Forbidden Zone (1980)

R  |   |  Comedy, Fantasy, Musical  |  21 March 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 3,432 users  
Reviews: 88 user | 63 critic

The bizarre and musical tale of a girl who travels to another dimension through the gateway found in her family's basement.



(story), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gisele Lindley ...
Jan Stuart Schwartz ...
Marie-Pascale Elfman ...
Virginia Rose ...
Gene Cunningham ...
Huckleberry P. Jones / Pa Hercules (as Ugh-Fudge Bwana)
Phil Gordon ...
Hyman Diamond ...
Matthew Bright ...
Squeezit & René Henderson (as Toshiro Boloney)
Brian Routh ...
Harry Kipper (as The Kipper Kids)
Martin von Haselberg ...
Harry Kipper (as The Kipper Kids)


A mysterious door in the basement of the Hercules house leads to the Sixth Dimension by way of a gigantic set of intestine. When Frenchy slips through the door, King Fausto falls in love with her. The jealous Queen Doris takes Frenchy prisoner, and it is up to the Hercules family and friend Squeezit Henderson to rescue her. Written by Scott Murdock <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A chaotic musical fantasy.


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Parents Guide:



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Release Date:

21 March 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tiltott zóna  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The alphabet song in the classroom scene is a mutated version of "Swinging the Alphabet," a classic number from the Three Stooges short _Violent is the Word for Curly (1938)_. See more »


Flash: The principal, Mr. Yodelbean, sent out bulletins to all the classrooms that said if anybody was gonna be late, they was gonna be punished.
See more »


References Snow-White (1933) See more »


La Petite Tonkinoise
Composed by Vincent Scotto (as V. Scotto), Henri Christiné (as Christiné) and Georges Villard
Vocals by Josephine Baker
Courtesy Pathé / EMI
See more »

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User Reviews

a definitive 'take it or leave it' flick. I'll take more, please!
31 August 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once said, "It never got weird enough for me." With all respect and love to that late-great Gonzo God, I wonder if he would eat those words following a viewing of this. This is truly one of the weirdest movies ever conceived, shot, executed, whatever-ed. But it's brilliance is in the fact that amid its chaos and delirious mayhem is that it's not really all that incoherent. It may not be any more or less crazy a piece of avant-garde experimentation than a super-obscure picture like Pussbucket.

The difference, I think, lies in professionalism. In a small way I'm reminded of Russ Meyer; Richard Elfman is a very careful director with his camera, never making a shot unintentionally out of focus or deranged in masturbatory terms, and with his production designer (if maybe it was just him and his wife who also financed the picture) create madness that can't exactly be called shoddy in production value. Like it or not, and I can imagine people definitely NOT liking this, there's some art going on here.

It's also the kind of movie you can't peg down. I was laughing mad throughout, almost convulsively at one other step after another in the 'plot' (and yes, there is one, once checked into the 'Zone' and the 6th dimension and the annals of the Queen and the family going through the zone), but is it entirely a comedy? Actually - yes, it is. But what kind of comedy? There's a sensibility that borrows heavily at times from those delightfully insane cartoons from the 1920s and 1930s (Un Iwerks' obscurer shorts come to mind), but only at times like bits in that classroom singing old songs.

There's also characters in black-face (yes, black-face), obvious caricatures of black people and Jews, a little person (the actor from Man with the Golden Gun), a guy with a giant frog head and a suit, and Satan. Did I mention it's a musical shot in black and white and that it's also like if Rocky Horror Picture Show wasn't likable for its badness but was genuinely f***ed-up as a true cult hit?

Enough trying to explain it- this is cult in the sense of Eraserhead or Ichi the Killer, or even one of the real old-school guards of the avant-garde like Jack SMith. You really do have to see it to believe it, and understand how much of a mix of forms and styles work its way into it, of the obvious and joyfully exaggerated "characters" (just between that one Queen with the hair and the little guy it could be enough, but then what about the little guy's new French mistress?), of the sudden title-cards, of the animations from time to time with most prominent example a travel down an intestine.

Not to mention the music, which is some of the purest genius in the picture (this and Blues Brothers, both good for a double feature not too oddly enough considering one specific song I need not mention here, are great wacky musicals of 1980). There's two facets: the usage of old blues and show-tunes of the 30s, almost like speakeasy songs, and then the songs of Oingo Boingo, Danny Elfman's equally weird band he had before becoming a composer. Needless to say he composes his first time here, and it's a great training ground for the likes of other great scores in Tim Burton's pictures; his one appearance as Satan is a howler, though overall he matches up to what his brother has to offer as a filmmaker of verve and daring.

How much you might respond positively to the daring of Forbidden Zone will depend on how seriously you take it. I don't think I got any profound life lessons, but if you can tap into the vibe of the picture then you got it made. It doesn't get much weirder than this, and I love it for it on whatever terms it makes as imaginative low-budget gonzo comedy.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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