It’s very hard to sum up the plot to this film, but I’ll try. Susan B. Hercules (Marie Elfman), or Frenchy as they call her, lives in an insane world where she hates school and has a weird family. She finds out she has a portal in her basement that leads to another dimension, so she happily takes it. After coming out of an asshole (literally) she is taken prisoner by King Fausto (Herve Villechaize of Fantasy Island) and Queen Doris (Susan Tyrell) of the Sixth Dimension. But everything goes downhill quickly, as the King has fallen in love with Frenchy, and the insanely jealous Queen will stop at nothing to destroy her. Meanwhile, her family members go to the rescue.
That’s something of a basic plot, though there is so much going on in Forbidden Zone that no paragraph or synopsis could ever make it justice. I first saw this movie while I was in my first year of my first college (USC of PR) and I was tripping on cough medicine, so I didn’t really understand a thing. After a few hours sleep and a sober brain, I re-watched it and thought it was one of the funniest, and most surreal films I have ever seen, and I still love it. The project came to fruition when Richard Elfman, with his brother Danny Elfman, decided to create a filmed representation of their famous live show for their band, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo (later to be known just as Oingo Boingo). It took ten months and was a failure commercially and critically, and it was even accused of being racist for it’s surreal use of blackface makeup. First off, you have to wonder at what kind of idiot would take this film so seriously. Thankfully the film has been re-discovered and it’s now a cult classic.
For starters, let’s talk about the acting. For such a small production they were really able to get a lot of recognizable names. Susan Tyrell was already an Academy-award nominated actress, so for her to be able to do such an over-the-top role as Queen Doris is really incredible. Hell, she spends most of the third act screaming and fighting, all of this with her tits out. No wonder John Waters cast her in Cry-Baby. The members of the Elfman family all make an appearance, but none as memorable as Danny Elfman himself, playing the Devil. To think, this is the man who would become Tim Burton’s main composer. Comedy duo The Kipper Kids also make an appearance. But the one woman who steals the show is the always-adorable, always-bubbly, always topless Gisele Lindley, who I fell in love with from first sight and is the only small-breasted woman I have ever lusted after. It’s too bad she never made anything after FB, at least not that’s on IMDB. She had a lot of talent.
The production design in this film is truly incredible. It’s part Monty Python, part German surrealism, and all insane. Everything, and I mean everything is shot on set. Also the soundtrack is composed of different types of music, from original compositions by Danny Elfman and his band, to 30’s and 40’s songs that seem to be from old cartoons, and the characters lip-synch to them. So if you want a movie that’s surreal, funny, sexy, and has a lot of quirky animation, this is the film for you. It’s one of my favorites.