Yodi-Cat’s Lost Film Review © 2007
Directed by Richard Elfman. Featuring Hervé Villechaize as Fausto, King of the 6th Dimension. With Susan Tyrrell as Doris, his Queen. Also featuring, as the Hercules family, Virginia Rose as Ma; Ugh-Fudge Bwana (aka Gene Cunningham) as Pa; Phil Gordon as son Flash; Marie-Pascale Elfman as daughter Susan (aka Frenchy); and Hyman Diamond as Gramps. Further featuring, in the 6th Dimension, Giselle Lindley as the Princess; Jan Stuart Schwartz as Bust Rod (aka Froggy the Butler); and Danny Elfman as Satan.
You don’t have to read ahead to know I loved this one. One of the purposes of Yodi-Cat’s Lost Film Review is to provide bad reviews to deserving Lost Films. Occasionally, however, you come across a lost film that isn't only good; it’s great (see my review of Undercover Brother for example). Such is the case with Forbidden Zone, a clever and witty, chuckle-a-minute (with occasional guffaw), tongue firmly in cheek, low-budget musical (!) farce, in vivid black-and-white.
All right, the black-and-white isn't that vivid. Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, one of the many more recent films to incorporate elements of Forbidden Zone, and Woody Allen’s Zelig are two vivid black-and-white-films. What you get with this gem is not vivid. You also get cheap cardboard sets and extended animated sequences. Not to mention the fabulous singing and dancing. No, really, I liked it, as well as just about everything else. One delight I’ll mention now is Hyman Diamond as mentally retarded Gramps Hercules. His whole manner is straight out of 1920s-era silent films. Go, Gramps!
Plot: the Hercules family purchases a haunted house. In the basement is a door leading to the Forbidden Zone: the 6th Dimension. When Frenchy accidentally falls thru the door, Flash and Gramps enter the 6th Dimension to rescue her. Mrs. Cat found Flash reminiscent of Harpo Marx, sans horn and avec voice. I thought him closer to the late and lamented Al Lewis -- “Grandpa Munster” and other roles. Lewis’ finest role, however, will always be running for governor of New York.
Back to the 6th Dimension. The king is a ladies’ man, and has become smitten with Frenchy. When the queen finds out, all hell and hammy acting break loose. To tell the truth, hammy acting is rampant from the beginning and thruout this film.
How can you not like a film with characters in underpants? Especially the young and attractive Princess, bouncing thru the 6th Dimension in nothing more than a pair of flimsy panties. How can you not like a film with characters constantly and repeatedly sodomizing and being sodomized by other characters (without removing their underwear, no less)? How can you not like a film with a masochist transvestite? OK, I’ll give you that one. Actually, the masochist transvestite character falls a little flat, as does the character of Froggy the Butler. (There’s such a thing as being too creative.) This is understandable in a film with so many lovely and charming other distractions competing for one’s attention. Like the Princess, for example.
Forbidden Zone is funny, and the musical sequences are delightful (especially Frenchy’s boogie-woogie introduction of herself in high school). A further charm: the obviously written-in at the last minute role of the ex-Queen (played by Viva), who unfortunately dies at the end of the film. This however does not prevent her singing a duet with Queen Doris, also dead at the end of the movie. The high school teacher (played by Kedric Wolfe) had normally staid Mrs. Cat howling with laughter. Even funnier was the winged head of Squeezit (played by Toshiro Boloney) flitting around like Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. By the way, what was Squeezit doing in that garbage can that made those high school girls giggle so?
On the Yodi-Cat scale* of 1 to 5 Paws, Forbidden Zone gets 4.3 Paws Up!
Be sure to tune in for the next installment of Yodi-Cat’s Lost Film Review.
*The Yodi-Cat scale:
5 Paws = Worth seeing repeatedly until you memorize the dialog
4 Paws = Worth seeing once
3 Paws = Not bad if you have enough catnip to get thru the boring parts
2 Paws = Walk out halfway thru and listen to music instead
1 Paw = demand your money back and think bad thoughts about the director