I have a weakness for cheesy, "so bad they're good" low budget horror, sci-fi or action movies. I watch'em so you don't have to!
"Forbidden World," a.k.a. "Mutant" (1982)
Starring: Jesse Vint, Dawn Dunlap, Lincoln Chiles, June Chadwick
Directed by: Alan Holtzman
When Ridley Scott's Alien became a worldwide box office smash in 1979, it was inevitable that imitations would follow. Sure enough, B-Movie makers around the world unleashed a flood of low-budget Alien wanna-be's over the next several years, including such Z-grade faves as Alien Contamination (1980), Inseminoid (1981, a.k.a. Horror Planet), and 1980's audaciously titled Alien 2: On Earth, an Italian "unauthorized sequel" to Scott's film!
Naturally, Roger Corman, America's "King of the B Movie," wanted a piece of the Alien action, too. His New World Pictures studio cranked out two stylish imitators; 1981's Galaxy of Terror (which is infamous for the controversial scene in which a naked woman is raped to death by a giant slug) and the 1982 follow-up Forbidden World (a.k.a. Mutant). In fact, Forbidden World was commissioned mainly so that the notoriously thrifty Corman could re-use the elaborate space station sets and other props that had been built for Galaxy of Terror.
Galaxy of Terror is probably the better of Corman's two Alien retreads, but Forbidden World is a delightfully scuzzy, exploitative little flick in its own right, featuring all of the usual New World trademarks - i.e., a big nasty monster, plenty of blood and slime, and a heaping helping of gratuitous female nudity. The film opens in some unnamed future galaxy, where studly space faring adventurer Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) is awakened from cryogenic sleep by his robot assistant "SAM," who resembles the love child of a Star Wars Stormtrooper and a Cylon Centurian from Battlestar Galactica. SAM informs Colby that their spaceship is under attack, but fortunately the Commander's mad skillz at the controls make short work of the invaders. (As an added Geek Note, sharp eyed B-fans might recognize the spaceships seen in the brief dogfight segment, as they're recycled from yet another Corman sci-fi flick, Battle Beyond the Stars.) SAM then gives Colby his newest assignment from Headquarters—they're headed to the desert planet of Xarbia, where a team of genetic researchers have created a dangerous new life form that has apparently gotten out of control.
It's Goo Time!
Once on Xarbia, Colby meets the team of scientists, including the secretive head of research, Dr. Hauser (Linden Chiles) plus fellow geneticist Dr. Barbara Glaser (June Chadwick of This is Spinal Tap) and bacteriologist Dr. Cal Timbergen (Fox Harris), who has a persistent cough that you just know is going to figure into the story later. They explain that an experimental life form intended to serve as a renewable food source - dubbed "Subject 20" - escaped from its cage and killed all of the other test animals in the lab before it could be re-secured. Colby's "Kill it and grill it" attitude towards the gene-spliced critter does not sit well with the lab geeks, who want to keep it alive. However, this clash of ideologies doesn't stop the attractive Dr. Glaser from bedding down with Colby virtually as soon as he arrives.
Before long, Subject 20 has hatched from its cocoon, broken out of its enclosure and infected hapless lab assistant Jimmy, whose body quickly begins to break down into a puddle of gelatinous goo. Subject 20 is now loose in the station's maze of corridors, so Colby and the remaining staff members mount up to exterminate it while the scientists try to figure out the creature's next move. This includes a hilarious scene in which the scantily-clad Chadwick and her female lab tech (Dawn Dunlap) take a shower together (!) and then attempt to communicate with the creature via the station's computers. Let's just say that Subject 20 doesn't take kindly to their "We come in peace" message. To reveal anything else would require a gigantic ***SPOILER WARNING***, but you can probably figure out where things go from here -- lots of scenes of various characters patrolling dark hallways and vent shafts, becoming Mutant Chow one by one, until the bacteriologist character reveals the dark secret behind the creature's creation and then devises a unique way to destroy the beast once and for all.
In a nutshell, Forbidden World was a hoot. It's got no pretensions, it just wants to be a good old fashioned slimy monster flick, and it succeeds in spades. The toothy, spider-legged creature resembles Giger's Alien (perhaps a bit too much) and the film's breakneck pace, gooey gore and eye-popping T&A are balanced nicely by the film's overall dark, claustrophobic feel. As Alien clones go, Forbidden World is definitely one of the "good" ones.
Forbidden World hadn't been seen on home video since the VHS era until 2010, when the fine folks at Shout Factory re-released it as part of their "Roger Corman's Cult Classics" series of DVDs. Fans should note that the Shout Factory edition is a 2-disc set, with a newly remastered transfer of the film's 77 minute "theatrical cut" on Disc 1 and the long-lost, original 82 minute "director's cut" (under its original title of Mutant) on Disc 2.
In the accompanying Special Features, director Holzman explains that Corman himself shaved five minutes from the film after a test screening, because he was displeased by the audience's laughter during certain humorous segments. Apparently Roger doesn't like humor in his horror flicks. The "Mutant" version restores those purged scenes and returns the film to its full-length gory glory, but the unfortunate tradeoff is that this longer cut was dubbed from a sub-par source (possibly a work print?) - not only is it in full screen rather than widescreen, but the picture is washed out and much darker than the clean and sparkling version on Disc 1. It's like watching a well-beaten VHS tape that's been rented hundreds of times. I'm sure that most fans probably won't mind, because they'll end up watching both cuts over time anyway!
Forbidden World aka Mutant is not to be confused with a completely different film from 1984 also called Mutant (a.k.a. Night Shadows in some circles, just to increase the confusion...). The 1984 film stars Wings Hauser and Bo Hopkins and is an Earth-bound, toxic-waste-turns-townspeople-into-ravenous-blue-skinned-zombies flick. Unfortunately, some low-rent video labels have produced DVDs of the 1984 Mutant which sport a photo of the toothy Forbidden World creature on the cover, leading to confusion and disappointment among fans who've purchased the wrong movie. The 1984 Mutant is entertaining little blast of '80s style cheese ball horror but Forbidden World is the superior film...so buyer beware!
© 2012 Keith Abt
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on April 17, 2020:
Hi Noel - I've been meaning to revisit this one myself, it's been quite a few years since I last saw it to wrote this review!
Noel Penaflor from California on April 17, 2020:
It's been so long since I've seen this, it would probably do me good to view it again.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on July 11, 2012:
Hi duffsmom - yes, I've seen "C.H.U.D.," though it's been many years, would love to see it again. Perhaps I should start scrounging for that one in the Bargain Bin...haha. Thanks for stopping by.
P. Thorpe Christiansen from Pacific Northwest, USA on July 11, 2012:
Another winner Hub! Have you seen C.H.U.D. - a wonderful low grade horrible horror movie. Love it. It was about 1988 or 89 and unfortunately, because it was so silly and fake, I let my 4 year old watch it--thinking she would understand how fake it was - and after seeing it, she wouldn't use the bathroom alone for a year! Not one of my best parenting moments. LOL
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on March 10, 2012:
Thanks for the kind words, V!
Vanessa Martinez Wilson from Vancouver, WA on March 10, 2012:
Oh the cheese. I'm a fan of the cheestastic showings of Corman and though I'm positive I've seen this movie, I couldn't recall specific scenes. Now I'll have to check my collection, because it's been a very long time. Thanks for reminding me about this one and introducing me to Mutant. I haven't seen that one.
Interesting and voted up.