Forbidden World



New World Pictures

Directed by Alan Holzman

Produced by Roger Corman

Written by Tim Curnen/R.J. Robertson/Jim Wynorski

Music by Susan Justin

Cinematography by Tim Suhrstedt

Edited by Alan Holzman/Martin Nicholson

I watched FORBIDDEN WORLD on the heels of watching another “Alien” knock-off: “Life.” Despite is having been made 30 years ago, I’d have to say that FORBIDDEN WORLD is the better movie in terms of sheer entertainment. I mean, I actually had fun watching this movie whereas even though it’s got the bigger budget, major acting talent and far better special effects, “Life” was a slog to get through. Maybe it was because FORBIDDEN WORLD revels in gratuitous gore and nudity and I’m a depraved soul. Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the 1980s and have an affinity for movies of that period. I dunno. I’ll leave it for you to judge.

Which means of course that for some of you brought up on CGI you won’t even be able to get into this movie as you’ll dismiss the special effects. I say that there’s a certain amount of charm to be derived from watching a movie of this nature when the special effects are on the cheap but you can see where the people both in front of and behind the camera are doing their utmost to make it all work. And for me, it does.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to sell you on the notion that FORBIDDEN WORLD is some kind of sci-fi cult masterpiece. It ain’t. But what it is is a goofy artifact representing a style of moviemaking that isn’t done anymore.

There’s a scientific research station on the far distant world of Xarbia and something there has gone seriously out of control. Federation troubleshooter Mike Colby(Jesse Vint) along with his faithful robot sidekick SAM-104 (Don Olivera) heads there to find out what’s going on.


He meets up with the requisite motley crew manning the station. Creepy Scientist In Charge Dr. Hauser (Linden Chiles). His assistant Dr. Barbara Glaser (June Chadwick) who judging by her later actions with Mike must have gotten her degree in Sex Therapy.


Lab Assistant Tracy Baxter (Dawn Dunlap) who, by the way appears to like taking showers with Dr. Glaser for no apparent reason other than…well, they just seem to like taking showers together. There’s your Head Of Security who must have gotten his job through nepotism as he appears to be woefully unable to secure anything and your Obligatory Mad Scientist Dr. Timbergen (Fox Harris).

What has gone wrong on Xarbia is “Subject 20” a synthetic DNA strain that the research team was genetically engineering in order to create a new food source. Subject 20 quickly metamorphs into a life form in in own right and begins killing the humans for food, injecting them with it’s own DNA to turn the humans into pure protein which it then consumes. Now I don’t know about you, but that demonstrates to me that somebody writing this thing was looking to do a bit more than just have their monster simply eat people. And this gives the special effects department an opportunity to go nuts showing still living human beings turn into gooey protein bars before being slurped up by Subject 20.


I just wish that the writers had put a little more thought into some other aspects of the movie such as: if Mike Colby’s spaceship has hyper-drive then why is he in suspended animation at the beginning of the movie? And why was he under for so long that his son back on Earth is now older than he is? Are the flash-forwards we see Mike having while in suspended animation supposed to indicate he has some sort of psychic ability? And dagnabit, just why do Dr. Glaser and Tracy like to take showers together?

Like I said earlier, I’m not trying to sell you on FORBIDDEN WORLD being a lost masterpiece. Far from it. But it is a Roger Corman movie and if nothing else that man knew how to make a movie that keeps your attention.  Get yourself some friends, some pizza, some booze and have a good time.


Rated R

77 Minutes


4 thoughts on “Forbidden World

  1. Thank you for another fine review on my behalf, Derrick! I’m glad you liked this awesome little relic from a bygone era, and I figured that the “Alien” knock-offs of the past would beg a comparison with the recent knock-offs like “Life,” which you recently reviewed here. Those older ones tend to hold up surprisingly well with everything the filmmakers put into them despite such limited resources to work with compared to today, as you noted. And they also often out-did “Alien” in terms of sheer nasty-edged creature mayhem and delivery of the gore.

    Yes, we got some of the gratuitous nudity that so often ear-marked the ’80s horror and sci-fi films (including horror/sci-fi hybrids like this one). The fact that Ms. Chadwick and Ms. Dunlap were such incredibly gorgeous women made these scenes all the more, well… memorable (especially Dawn Dunlap; I was in love with her from the moment I saw her onscreen, and it’s a shame she never became a much bigger star). As to why they enjoyed taking showers together, well, I think the answer to that was obvious: the heating generator on the station was on the fritz (the crew clearly had more important things to worry about at the time than getting it fixed!), so instead of hearing each other complain that the other kept using up all the hot water the ladies decided to go the frugal route and pair up. What other reason could it have been? 😉

    One interesting thing about this movie that I think bears mentioning is how in the opening moments, Corman and grew totally deceive the viewers as to what type of movie — or, more specifically, what type of sci-fi masterpiece knock-off — it was going to be. The cheaply filmed but still fun to watch space battle sequence as Colby and SAM fought off those attacking interstellar pirates gave the impression we were going to get a “Star Wars” knock-off rather than one based on “Alien” (as if cheap flicks of the time like “Star Crash” and “Battle Beyond the Stars” didn’t give us enough budget-starving “Star Wars” cash-ins!). As soon as Colby and SAM arrived on Xarbia, however, the tone of the movie made a drastic change, and we instead found ourselves watching an homage to a very different type of space epic than the one we thought we were going to see.

    Great stuff from a time period some of us fondly remember!

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