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Film: Forbidden Zone
You have been warned.

Forbidden Zone is a a completely bonkers musical directed and written by Richard Elfman and Matthew Bright (who would later direct Freeway) as a vehicle for the antics of their band, The Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo. At the time, the band was a stage art troupe that would later become a successful New Wave and Ska band, with Richard's little brother Danny Elfman as its frontman.

The movie's story focuses on a family that moves in a house that has in the basement a door to the sixth dimension that they pretty much try to ignore, but when the eldest daughter returns from her studies in France, curiosity attracts her to investigate. Heavily inspired by Cab Calloway, Betty Boop cartoons and Underground Comics.

This movie is groundbreaking for being the first film that Danny Elfman ever composed a soundtrack for (no surprise considering his brother is the director and screenwriter, his brother's wife is the protagonist, and their father and grandfather both play characters in the film). Danny himself plays the devil while the rest of the original Oingo Boingo band (when it was known as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo) are here as his minions. The film also includes a post-Fantasy Island Hervé Villechaize and pre-Cry-Baby Susan Tyrell.

The film had a huge influence on both Tim Burton and Paul Reubens, who first met while working on Pee-wee's Big Adventure. The decision was quickly made to base much of their film's visuals on Forbidden Zone, and to hire Danny Elfman to write the score. The rest is history.

A sequel is on its way: "Forbidden Zone 2: Forbidden Galaxy." Here's a trailer: the Princess (now Princess Polly) has apparently taken the helm and is taking the offensive to conquer Earth. Richard and Danny Elfman are both involved, as are Ego Plum and the crew from "Monster Man".


Forbidden Zone includes examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Squeezit and Renee's parents.
    • Considering Fausto and Doris are the parents of The Princess, they count.
  • Adults Dressed as Children
  • All Men Are Rapists / All Men Are Perverts / All Women Are Lustful: So much. The only truly chaste member of the cast is Squeezit, and even he's a little tempted by the Princess's come-ons.
  • Atlantis: Ruins of Greek columns and a temple with the banner "Atlantis Dept. of Public Works" are seen underground in the initial animation.
  • Badass Grandpa: More like "mentally disturbed, violent grandpa".
    • Handicapped Badass: Screaming his head off at the opposition for so many years has made Gramps deaf and dumb (and, as a result, much harder to control when angry).
  • Black Comedy Rape
  • Blackface: A character seen briefly at the start (and in a throwaway gag near the middle) is a slumlord and crack dealer played by a man in blackface; there are several others in bit parts throughout, done for comedic shock value.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: Parodied.
  • Chew Toy: Squeezit to a ridiculous extent. Originally the scene when his father beats him while his mother laughs was going to be ten minutes long and the weird scene when he was going to say the Pledge of Allegiance actually was going to have him castrated.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land: The sixth dimension. Reality isn't very normal in this film, though.
  • Cover Version: About a third of the songs are covers of 1930's songs, especially Cab Calloway ones.
    • And later, Danny Elfman would create a somewhat re-arranged version of the movie's title song to use as the opening theme for the TV show Dilbert.
      • According to an interview later on, he said he had nothing to do with that, and was surprised to hear that they had done so.
  • Crowd Song: Pico & Sepulveda, Queen's Revenge, The Alphabet Song and Finale.
  • Cut Song: "Johnny" and "Giter Brider Itzik"
  • The Danza: Herman Bernsteinnote  as "Mr. Bernstein, the Old Yiddish Man".
  • Dawson Casting: Phil Gordon, clearly well past middle age, playing the 10-year-old Flash. All his classmates are also examples of this.
  • Deal with the Devil: Squeezit has to do one in order to save his sister and Frenchy
  • Deleted Scene: A scene where Gramps sings about his days as a wrestler.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Well, maybe not deliberately. The director intended the black-and-white footage to be colorized by hand, but found it would be too costly to pull off; it's since been digitally colorized.
  • Dem Bones: All over in the initial animation.
  • Deranged Animation: The intro and the sequences to the sixth dimension.
  • Disney Villain Death: Queen Doris
  • Distant Duet: Queen's Revenge.
  • Down The Butt Hole: The only way to reach to the sixth dimension
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • Dysfunction Junction: The most normal character of the film is the wife-beating Norwegian-accented tarpit-working father.
  • Ear Ache: The singer's ear is cut and eaten by the frog.
  • Earworm: The Theme Song.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Susan Tyrell and the actress playing the Ex-Queen hated each other; according to Elfman, they actually started fighting during the Cat Fight scene.
  • Erotic Eating: Lampshaded and averted with a polish sausage.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!
  • Gratuitous French: Susan B. 'Frenchy' Hercules.
  • Groin Attack: The frog manservant gets this a lot. Naturally, he's named "Bust Rod".
  • Improbable Hairstyle: Queen Doris
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: While she's far from innocent, the Princess doesn't seem to be under any pressure to cover her breasts.
  • In The Style Of: Fleischer Bros. and early Warner Bros.. Cartoons.
  • Jukebox Musical
  • Large Ham: Queen Doris of the sixth dimension.
  • Little People Are Surreal
  • Mind Screw
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Princess. Oh, the Princess.
    • Mr. Fanservice: Satan, by default of being the only guy in the cast who is neither dressed ridiculously or made up to look extremely ugly.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: King Fausto and Susan B. Hercules.
  • The Napoleon: King Fausto.
  • No Budget
  • No OSHA Compliance: La Brea Tar Pit Factory.
  • Refuge in Audacity
  • Retraux
  • Romance Onthe Set: Herve Villechaize and Susan Tyrell. No, really.
  • Shout-Out: The whole Satan sequence is one on Betty Boop's Minnie The Moocher cartoon, as well as "Bimbo's Initiation" (when Squeezit opens a door and gets punched in the face by a waiting boxer).
    • The "Alphabet Song" is a reference to the classic The Three Stooges short "Violent is the Word for Curly" and its memorable song "Swingin' the Alphabet".
    • Frenchy "sings" a Josephine Baker song, and Pa "sings" a Cab Calloway song.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Pa Hercules singing a joyful cover of Pico & Sepulveda with a chorus of men while going to their crappy job at La Brea Tar Pit Factory. With a little bit of Lyrical Dissonance thrown in: "Where nobody's dreams... come... true!"
  • The Speechless: Gramps Hercules and Bust Rod.
  • Spoiled Brat: The Princess, and to a lesser extent, Susan.
  • Stock Underwear: Aside from the mooks mentioned below (who wear jockstraps), everyone whose underwear is part of their costume wears tighty whiteys.
  • Synchro-Vox: Used briefly during the "Bim Bam Boom" musical number; the young boy who played the Princess's "pet" successfully lip-synched the vocals in rehearsal, but became nervous and froze when cameras were rolling. Richard Elfman's solution was to loop usable footage from his spoiled performance (most evident when paying close attention to the Kipper Kids in the background, who are clearly moving forward then in reverse), and superimpose the lips of Matthew Bright, who played Squeezit. The visual style of the film is so bizarre that this odd scene just... works.
  • Table Space: The king and the queen, and a human chandelier over them.
  • Talking to Himself: Several actors play two or more roles in the film; perhaps most memorable is Matthew Bright as the Henderson twins, Squeezit and Renee.
  • Those Two Guys: The Kipper Kids, semi-famous performance artists who appear both in and out of the Sixth Dimension as a pair of grunting boxers and pug-nosed twin sisters, respectively.
  • Title Drop
  • Twin Telepathy: The Henderson twins.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Johnny shoots Billy to death in the classroom for cheating at cards, and gets into a protracted gunfight with the teacher, who presumably kills him with the machine gun she keeps under her desk. Both of them still somehow come to class the next day.
  • Villain Song: "Witch's Egg" and "Queen's Revenge" by Queen Doris and "Squeezit The Moocher" by the devil
    • Amplified by the fact that the late Susan Tyrrell (who played Queen Doris) actually co-wrote "Witch's Egg".
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Gramps Hercules, at the lunch at the beginning of the movie.
  • Wacky Homeroom
  • Watch It Stoned: For some, the only way to understand ANY of it is to partake in it with some kind of outside influence...
  • Weirdness Censor: Do you have a gate to other dimensions in your basement? Just ignore it, and tie up Grandpa to make sure he doesn't fall in.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Squeezit can talk with chickens, which gives him the confidence to become a hero... well, not without its consequences.
    • The chickens also pledge to help him any way they can - but, as everyone knows, chickens can't really do anything.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser / Depraved Homosexual: Squeezit's "sister".
    "The queen said she was going to ream us with twelve-inch cattle prods... and I'm still waiting!"

Re-AnimatorCreator/Full Moon FeaturesMarvel Comics
Evil DeadB-MovieThe Man Who Saves the World
Forbidden WorldFilms of the 1980sThe Forest
Tin Can RobotImageSource/Live-Action FilmsLittle People Are Surreal

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