One of the most endear­ing attrib­ut­es of Roger Corman — from a schlock per­spec­tive — was his will­ing­ness to recy­cle any avail­able resources in the film­mak­ing process.  If he could get more than one film out a set, a prop, a cos­tume, a script or even a bit of footage then he’d do it.  No oth­er pro­duc­er in the busi­ness could get as much pro­duc­tion val­ue bang for his buck as Corman — and that’s why remains the King of the B’s.

One of the finest prod­ucts of this “if it works, recy­cle it” phi­los­o­phy is Forbidden World.  It begins with a blast as inter­stel­lar “trou­bleshooter” Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) is awak­ened from hyper­space to fight off some attack­ing space­ships in a skill­ful­ly-edit­ed pro­logue.  This scene is notable for being shot on a left­over Galaxy Of Terror set and uti­liz­ing space­ship dog­fight footage left­over from Corman’s Star Wars riff, Battle Beyond The Stars.

This footage was the result of Corman allow­ing New World edi­tor Allan Holzman write and shoot some test footage over a week­end to see if he was ready to direct his own project.  The results passed muster and were sub­se­quent­ly graft­ed onto a new sto­ry­line mod­eled close­ly on the plot hooks of Alien.  Colby arrives on plan­et Xarbia, where a group of sci­en­tists are engaged in risky exper­i­ments designed to cre­ate a food­stuff that can repro­duce itself.  They’ve cre­at­ed a kill-hap­py muta­tion in the process and Colby has been brought in to neu­tral­ize it so can be stud­ied.

However, Colby’s tal­ents are imme­di­ate­ly put to use when the crea­ture emerges from its cocoon and leaps onto the face of a jan­i­tor (Michael Bowen) who was dumb enough to leave its cage door open.  The lit­tle beast­ie begins shift­ing its shape into larg­er, dead­lier (and more Giger-esque) vari­a­tions as it begins pick­ing off the crew in slimy, nasty ways.  Colby works in tandem with chain-smok­ing, ter­mi­nal­ly-ill sci­en­tist Cal (Fox Harris of Repo Man fame) to fig­ure out a way to stop it before it kills them all.

The end results are exact­ly the kind of sleazy, trashy b-movie fare that bluenose film crit­ics warn you to avoid — and that’s exact­ly why any self-respect­ing schlockophile needs to see it.  Forbidden World is a text­book exam­ple of how to make a trashy knock­off of a hit film.

Everyone involved knew slimy crea­tures and gore were a big draw­ing point in Alien so they deliv­er a dou­ble-help­ing here.  A who’s who of make­up-FX up-and-com­ers worked on this flick (John Carl Buechler, Mark Shostrom, Chris Biggs, etc.) and they deliv­er the grue­some goods from start to fin­ish.  Highlights include one crew member’s half-melt­ed face after an alien encoun­ter and anoth­er get­ting killed in a rather rude fash­ion by a rogue ten­ta­cle.  The crea­ture design shame­less­ly apes the Giger-esque bio­me­chan­i­cal approach of Alien (albeit on a dime-store bud­get) but it’s fun in the plas­tic-but-endear­ing style of 1950’s sci-fi — and the cli­mac­tic demise of said crea­ture is one for the record books.

Better yet, Holzman also works in some note­wor­thy sleaze — in between alien bat­tles, Colby works in a clothes-free romp with both of the facilty’s female staff mem­bers, the hot-to-trot cougar Dr. Glaser (June Chadwick) and the young, doe-eyed beau­ty Baxter (for­mer nude mod­el Dawn Dunlap).  There’s even a delight­ful­ly gra­tu­itous scene where the wom­en con­verse in some kind of weird futur­is­tic disco/planetarium light-show “show­er” so we can them in the buff for a sec­ond time.

It’s worth not­ing that actors play the mate­ri­al just right, going through the required paces with­out con­de­scend­ing to the mate­ri­al yet doing so with a twin­kle in the eye that lets you know they’re in on the fun.  Vint was a b-movie vet­er­an by this point and his south­ern accent and easy-going charm fit his “space cow­boy” role to a ‘t’.  Chadwick intones her lines with a seduc­tive purr as the sex­pot sci­en­tist and Harris steals every scene he’s in, cough­ing and spout­ing off b-movie sci­ence gib­ber­ish with total con­vic­tion (in fact, he might be Your Humble Reviewer’s favorite cin­e­mat­ic mad sci­en­tist).

The approach of the actors also high­lights the key ele­ment of Forbidden World’s b-movie suc­cess for­mu­la: total com­mit­ment.  It might be a retread but no one involved approach­es the work in a dis­dain­ful man­ner: from the actors to the below-the-line crew, the film crack­les with the ener­gy of every­one involved.  Holzman match­es the ener­gy of his cast and crew in the director’s chair, giv­ing the pro­ceed­ings a flashy look and a jit­tery pace (he was ahead of the curve in his use of fast-cut edit­ing for vis­cer­al effect) that puts it across the plate with plen­ty of cheeky style.

The end result deliv­ers plen­ty of chaos in a tight, deliri­ous­ly over-the-top 77-min­ute pack­age — and it’s all the sweet­er for hav­ing using recy­cled props, cos­tumes, sets, footage, etc. in the process. Forbidden World is thus a mod­el of Corman’s recy­cling aes­thet­ic and a per­fect com­pan­ion piece to Galaxy Of Terror.

Forbidden World

Forbidden World

This 2-disc set fea­tures new extras, re-mas­tered widescreen pic­ture and two ver­sions of the film (orig­i­nal the­atri­cal and extend­ed Director’s cuts).

Forbidden World (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Forbidden World (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

This blu-ray fea­tures new extras, re-mas­tered widescreen pic­ture and two ver­sions of the film (orig­i­nal the­atri­cal and extend­ed Director’s cuts).

Here’s a VERY NSFW German Trailer: