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Blu-Ray : Highly Recommended
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Release Date: July 20th, 2010 Movie Release Year: 1982

Forbidden World

Overview -

On the remote planet of Xarbia, a scientific experiment has gone horrifically wrong. An experimental life-form known as Subject 20,” created by an elite group of scientists to prevent a major galactic food crisis, has instead mutated into a man-eating organism. It’s getting bigger, it has the ability to change its genetic structure at will and, worst of all, it’s hungry. Very, very hungry!

Two-fisted, hard-living, hard-loving bounty hunter Mike Colby (Jesse Vint, Macon County Line, Deathsport) is called in to combat this monstrous menace, but soon suspects that the scientists are keeping something from him. He soon discovers why: Subject 20 is half-human.

In classic Agatha Christie tradition, Subject 20 begins killing off the scientists one by one, while Colby and the remaining survivors desperately try to figure out a way to destroy it -- before it destroys them.

Also released theatrically as Mutant, Forbidden World has it all: Gratuitous gore, unexpected nudity, surprising bits of black comedy, and an assortment of inspired and inventive special effects (done on a Roger Corman budget, of course). Nevertheless, the film earned three Saturn Award nominations: Best Low-Budget Film, Best Special Effects and Best Makeup. The film marked the directorial debut of two-time Primetime Emmy Awards® winner Allan Holzman (Survivors of the Holocaust), who like so many Hollywood luminaries got his start under Corman’s auspices.

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Video Resolution/Codec:
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.33:1 (Unrated Director's Cut DVD)
Audio Formats:
Special Features:
The never-before-seen, unrated Director’s Cut (4:3 - Full Frame) DVD with an audio commentary with director Allan Holzman
Release Date:
July 20th, 2010

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


'Forbidden World,' or 'Mutant' if you want to call it by its original name, really isn't much more than an occasionally showy 'Alien' rip-off. In fact, the director, Allan Holzman, says as much on the commentary. Originally, producer Roger Corman tasked Holzman, who had just edited 'Battle Beyond the Stars' for the studio, to create a kind of 'Lawrence of Arabia' in space. When Holzman turned in the draft, Corman, deeming it too costly and elaborate, said: "Let's just rip off 'Alien.'" And rip off 'Alien' they did.

If this sounds like I'm knocking the movie, well, I am, sort of. But there's something oddly alluring about 'Forbidden World.'

The plot, as much as there is one, concerns a genetic research lab that's orbiting a world with the incredibly science fiction-y name of Xarbia (in the future the letter 'x' is used a lot more). It's on this lab that the scientists create "Subject 20," a hideous monstrosity that goes through several mutations and offs most of the research crew (comprised of B-actors that most people have never heard of, although a young Michael Bowen is in the cast).

It's not spoiling anything to say that the monster is eventually killed, and where one of Holzman's few original ideas comes into play: the monster, after eating the cancer-ridden body of the space station's head of security (Fox Harris), dies from cancer! This isn't spoiling anything, trust you me. It's like this bizarre, cheap-ass sci-fi movie turns into a movie about terminal illness. Or something. And it's this conceit that is evocative of the movie's many nutty tendencies.

Take the opening sequence, which is lifted from both 'Alien' with a dash of '2001' thrown in. Or the fact that the movie has these sections where images flit by, edited without any decipherable reason. (This being a Roger Corman movie, a scene where two of the female crewmembers shower together is a mainstay of these montages.)

There's a lot of goop in 'Forbidden World.' And a lot of blood. And, again, this being a Roger Corman movie, a lot of (refreshingly natural) boobs. You're struck by the amazing ability of crewmembers to mindlessly enjoy a hot sauna while a killer mutant is on the loose. But hey. I'm not complaining about excessive nudity. In fact, scratch "excessive" from that last sentence!

At some point during the screening process for the film, the original, humorous intent was deleted by Corman. Supposedly, if Corman heard an audience laughing WITH a movie, he assumed they were laughing AT the movie. He had Holzman take out all the humor, so what we're left with is a frequently comical sci-fi horror movie that never acknowledges its own ludicrousness.

There's tons of stuff to love about 'Forbidden World' (the boobs, the remarkably straight-faced performances, Susan Justin's score) and often times the movie hums with the low budget, "let's put on a show" attitude that defined the Corman productions from that period. But in the end, just liked its producer said, it's really just an 'Alien' rip off.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 25GB Blu-ray disc is Region A locked. There's a second disc, a DVD, that contains the original, intentionally funny version of 'Forbidden World' aka 'Mutant.' The disc does not automatically play. The case contains a nice little essay called "How to Make an Alien in 20 Days." Another cool feature: you can flip the outside cover inside out and instead of a 'Forbidden World' box you'll have a 'Mutant' box! How cool is that?

Video Review


The Blu-ray disc comes equipped with a formidable 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer (aspect ratio: 1.78:1) that's probably the best 'Forbidden World' has ever looked.

To compare how bad this could have looked, just pop in the bonus disc with the 'Mutant' director's cut. (More on that later.) Blacks are darker, overall clarity is vastly improved, skin tones look more lifelike, and the list goes on.

Occasionally, low budget movies presented in high definition seem to make their cheapy special effects or unconvincing make-up look cheaper and more unconvincing. This is the case, occasionally, on 'Forbidden World,' especially when the monster is in full effect. The rubbery nature of the beast is really revealed. But that's okay. You were never really "buying" the monster in the first place anyway (H.R. Geiger wouldn't have doodled this beast on a cocktail napkin).

But at the same time, the added depth and dimensionality provided by the high definition transfer affords some of the movie, especially the claustrophobic sets (incidentally designed by James Cameron for another Corman production), some added nuance and believability.

Is this transfer going to blow your mind? No. There are definitely some spotty issues, which I can't decide are the transfer's fault or the fault of that hazy cinematography style that was so favored in the late 70s and early 80s ('Forbidden World' came out in 1982). But does 'Forbidden World' look way better than it has any right to? Yes, definitely. I was really impressed with the clarity and overall look of this transfer, and I'm sure you will be too.

Audio Review


Equally impressive, in that 'hey, this is as good as it's going to get'-way is the disc's DTS 2.0 audio track.

The movie starts almost exactly like 'Alien,' with a crewmember unfreezing after hyperspace and all of these doodads and robots coming to life. It's here that the clarity of the mix really presents itself, and does a good job of sustaining the level throughout the rest of the film.

This isn't the kid of mix that'll blow you away, just as in the video's case, but there is a workmanlike efficiency to the mix, and that's okay by me (especially for a stereo mix). Dialogue is mostly clear and crisp and well prioritized, the monster snarls and grows with the appropriate menace, and despite some scenes where either the sound effects overwhelm or the dialogue goes muddy, this is probably the best the movie has ever sounded, too.

This is your only audio option, as far as I can tell.

Special Features


The extras on this disc are duplicated on Shout's DVD release, so sadly there's no exclusive content. On the brighter side, this set has a lovely collection of extras. (Not as many as, say, on the 'Death Race 2000' disc but this isn't exactly the movie 'Death Race 2000' is.) If I can editorialize for a minute (I know, it's so unlike me), I'd like to say how happy I am that the Corman movies have landed at Shout!(!) For years the collection has bounced around to different distributors, hell, even Disney had the rights for a few years, and it's just so nice to see these movies given the treatment they've always deserved. Way to go, Shout!, and keep 'em coming!

  • Making of 'Forbidden World' (HD, 34:16) This surprisingly in-depth look at the making of 'Forbidden World' is pretty engaging. You'll go through the same talking points - Corman coming up with the idea, director Holzman's vision being bigger than the budget would allow, the music, the humor, blah blah blah. But it's a snappily edited piece and features interviews with much of the cast and crew. Well worth a watch, it also acts as a nice pre-game feature to the set's big enchilada - the original cut of 'Forbidden World!' (More on that in a minute.)
  • Interview with Roger Corman (HD, 6:25) This is a short, amiable feature with the king of the castle himself, Roger Corman. Much of the same material is covered either in the making of documentary, or in the commentary with Holzman on the director's cut, but this is still worth watching. Corman is a kind of grandfatherly czar to obsessive genre fans like yours truly, so anytime he pops up it's fun. He won an honorary Oscar this year, remember? While not as lively as his chat with Leonard Maltin on the 'Death Race' disc, this is still worth your time.
  • Interview with Special Effects Artist John Carl Beuchler (HD, 14:20) This is an overlong interview with the chief special effects dude for 'Forbidden World.' Honestly, I thought that this doc, while well-intentioned, was sort of boring and easily the first thing you can skip over.
  • Skotak Gallery This is a gallery of designs by Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, as well as some candid behind-the-scenes photos.
  • Poster & Still Gallery Actually, this is a really lovely gallery. If you don't push anything, the images flip through, slideshow-style (you can also go from one to the next using your remote).
  • Trailer (HD, 2:33) This is a wonderful red band trailer (for mature audiences only!) that actually, surprisingly, captures the decidedly off-kilter nature of 'Forbidden World.' Well worth a watch.
  • Other Corman Trailers You also get trailers for other Corman joints - 'Battle Beyond the Stars' (HD, 2:27), 'Galaxy of Terror' (HD, 1:55), and 'Humanoids from the Deep' (HD, 1:49). These trailers are all pretty priceless, and while Shout currently has 'Galaxy' and 'Humanoids' scheduled for release in high definition, they've kept mum about 'Battle.' But after watching this trailer you'll want it in your Blu-ray collection. Like, now.
  • Director's Cut of 'Mutant' Okay, so on the second disc you get the long lost director's cut of 'Forbidden World,' which is actually closer to 'Mutant.' The movie is only a few minutes longer than the one on the Blu-ray proper (82 minutes versus the theatrical 77 minute), and the DVD looks pretty crummy - it's in full frame and was quite obviously taken off somebody's VHS copy. Still, it's lovely to see the original intent of 'Mutant,' with the humorous layer restored. It goes along much better with the general WTF-ness of 'Forbidden World.' And you can watch the director's cut with our without commentary from director Holzman, moderated by Nathaniel Thompson. Even though 'Forbidden World' has never been on DVD or Blu-ray, which is a big deal in and of itself, the director's cut is the real rarity, which has never, ever been available anywhere. And it's pretty great.

Is 'Forbidden World' (or 'Mutant') a cheap-ass 'Alien' knock-off? Yes, yes it is. But is it also a ridiculous amount of fun? Why yes, it's that too! Shout! Factory has really outdone themselves with their recent work on the Corman movies, and this is no exception. With above-average audio and video and a host of captivating features, including the once-thought long-lost director's cut of 'Mutant,' this is a highly recommended title indeed.