If you asked any schlock fan what vintage b-movie would be most likely to get a two-disc special edition this year, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would have said Forbidden World. However, Shout! Factory has stepped up to the plate and produced an unexpectedly lavish set for this classic cheapie as part of their Roger Corman Cult Classics line. As you work your way through this set, it’s like taking a trip back to the glory days of the genre DVD (i.e.: the first half of the 2000’s), when companies like Anchor Bay were unleashing amazing editions of cult favorites every week.
For starters, this set offers not one but two versions of its main feature: the first disc has a remastered, anamorphically enhanced transfer of Forbidden World and the second disc offers a full-frame transfer of Mutant, the original cut of the film, taken from director Allen Holzman’s personal video transfer of this long-lost version. The theatrical cut looks fantastic, with strong colors and a nice level of detail to complement Tim Surhstedt’s shadowy cinematography. The original mono mix is used and it offers a solid soundtrack that does well with its reproduction of Susan Justin’s spacey synth score.
The director’s cut suffers from the inherent limitations of a transfer from an aging video source – namely fuzzy detail and a darker overall image – but it’s still watchable. It’s also interesting for fans to view because the added footage is not extra gore or nudity – it’s mostly extensions of scenes that makes the film’s self-deprecating approach to genre more overt (as the story goes, Corman’s feathers were ruffled when a preview screen got some intended laughs along with the screams and he forced Holzman to whittle down all the humor beats). You probably won’t watch it more than once but it’s an interesting bit of unearthed history for genre obsessives.
The value of the director’s cut is further bolstered by a commentary track featuring Holzman and moderator Nathaniel Thompson of the Mondo Digital website. It’s an informative and candid track, with Holzman discussing the problems he had with Corman about setting the film’s tone and a dispute with actress June Chadwick over her character’s demise.
Holzman also discusses plenty of scene-specific details, like how a real-life experience in the Philippines inspired the “emergency surgery” scene near the end of the film, and even tells a funny story about working as an editor for David Carradine on one of his self-directed films. Thompson gives Holzman plenty of room to speak his mind but also gently steers the flow the commentary with some interesting questions. The end result is well worth a listen for fans.
The other special features are located on the first disc. The major draw is “The Making Of Forbidden World,” a half-hour featurette that includes input from Holzman, actor Jesse Vint, composer Susan Justin and several effects designers including the Skotak brothers and Chris Biggs. It offers plenty of worthwhile behind-the-scenes info, with Vint telling a funny story about a prank pulled by cast member Linden Chiles and some similarly entertaining tales about the film’s first preview screening. It’s also a very effects-intensive discussion, with the various effects men revealing the practical methods used to create several of the makeup and visual effects for the piece.
There are also two solo interview featurettes, a six-and-a-half minute with Roger Corman and the other with makeup effects designer John Carl Buechler. Corman recounts his memories of the film’s production and release in a slick, engaging manner, packing plenty of practical info into a small space. Buechler fondly recounts what a big break this film was for him and explains several effects in great detail, including a humorous/horrifying tale about what the assistants who handled the final effects scene went through.
The extras on disc one are rounded by a pair of image galleries, the first devoted to sketches and images done by the brothers Skotak and the other offering a mixture of candid shots, stills and promotional art, plus trailers for Forbidden World and other Corman titles that Shout! Factory is handling. The final treat is a full-color insert book with liner notes and plenty of gross/gooey imagery from the film. It all adds up to a swell package for a deserving exploitation-flick favorite and a nice bargain for exploitation film fans who dig space-sleaze.