Blu-ray Movie Review – Forbidden Zone [Ultimate Edition] (1980)

Forbidden Zone [Ultimate Edition]
Directed by Richard Elfman
Courtesy of MVD Distribution
Year of Production: 1980
Blu-ray Release Date: November 10, 2015


I’ve been a fan of Danny Elfman for a long, LONG time. As the lead singer for Oingo Boingo back in the late 70s and early 80s, Elfman quickly made a name for himself as a composer and songwriter. But when he turned to movie scores in the mid 80s, my fandom skyrocketed. I’ve loved many of his movie soundtracks, particularly BEETLEJUICE, BATMAN, NIGHTBREED, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. So when I heard he had performed and acted in a quirky, low-budget film made by his brother, I knew I had to give it a look. And I’m so glad I did! FORBIDDEN ZONE is a crazy trip into the bizarre, chocked full of surreal imagery and moody but fantastic music.

If you are not familiar with FORBIDDEN ZONE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of MVD Distribution:

Richard Elfman’s Forbidden Zone, starring Herve Villechaise (Fantasy Island) and Susan Tyrell (Fat City, Cry-Baby), will make it’s way to the home video market on September 29th in various forms including Digital, DVD, Blu-ray, and soundtrack packages. Each edition contains the black and white and color transfers of the film. In the film, Sexy Frenchy falls into an insane underworld ruled by a horny little king and his jealous queen. Chicken-boy comes to the rescue, only to have his head cut off by the soul-singing Devil himself–played by Danny Elfman and the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. Frog butlers, topless princesses and rioting school kids sing and dance in unforgettable musical numbers by Danny Elfman, Cab Calloway, Josephine Baker and other greats. Forbidden Zone is truly a ground-breaking, fun-filled timeless classic! Elfman says: “Forbidden Zone, the Ultimate Edition is coming shortly to DVD and Blu-ray from my good friends at MVD Entertainment. For the first time ever we include both the original black & white plus the new color version–all in sterling hi-def and state-of-the-art sound mix. There’s a terrific booklet and loads of bonus features (including an utterly insane introduction by some idiot who looks a lot like me). I’m very proud of this best ever Forbidden Zone release! Officially Elfo-recommended!”

I guarantee you’ve never seen a film like this before. And if you think you have, you were probably on drugs. This movie is a fever-dream you won’t want to wake up from.

FORBIDDEN ZONE is shot well for being a low-budget picture, and looks pretty good onscreen. I understand the movie was originally shot in black-and-white, but recently colorized in 2008; the fine folks at MVD Distribution have included both on the Ultimate Edition Blu-ray, and watching both versions is a real treat. I found it interesting to see the differences the color can make. Both are entertaining, but the black-and-white version is somewhat more bizarre for some reason.

The acting is pretty good, although I don’t think anybody will win any awards. The cast does a good job as a whole, although I have to commend Danny Elfman on his portrayal of the Devil. In addition to foreboding zaniness, Elfman brings true musical talent to Old Scratch’s persona.

The special effects are cheesy, but the movie is still a visual feast to behold. The set pieces remind me of a Salvador Dali painting, and the atmosphere they help create is beyond astounding. If you’re in the mood for weird but entertaining, FORBIDDEN ZONE is the movie for you.

FORBIDDEN ZONE is a major win for me, and I highly recommend it. The Ultimate Edition includes the movie’s soundtrack on CD, so be sure and snag this version so you can enjoy the music everywhere you go. I can almost guarantee you’ll find a song or two that’ll stick in your mind long after the film is over. But regardless of what version you buy, check this film out soon. You’ll take a heck of a trip, and it will be one you’ll want to take again and again. The film is available now.


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