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Rated R
Copyright 1980 Hercules Films Ltd.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 3 August 2003

The Characters:  

  • Frenchy Hercules - She developed a thick accent, and earned a nickname, while going to school in France.
  • Flash Hercules - This has to be one of the oldest looking kids I have ever seen.
  • Gramps Hercules - The old man displays some signs of mental illness. Usually this is fairly harmless in seniors, but gramps used to be a wrestler.
  • Ma & Pa Hercules - He works at the La Brea tar pits. She stays at home (apparently shaving her eyebrows).
  • Squeezit - Remember the geeky kid who got beat up often? Beheaded by Satan's minions.
  • King Fausto - Herve Villachez! The monarch of the Forbidden Zone constantly wears his sword and crown. He also has a mouseketeer fetish. Yes, I would definitely call it a fetish.
  • Queen Doris - Pretty, if you like cigar smoking women in clown makeup. When she said the words "thousand years" I recognized her as the narrator from Wizards. Shot.
  • The Princess - She spends the entire movie topless. God bless her.
  • Bust Rod - The requisite frogheaded butler who gets kicked in the nads and runs off of a cliff.
  • Satan - Danny Elfman! He has a crush on the princess (don't we all).

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Now here is an outlandish movie. It was shot in black and white, has background sets befitting a high school play, and is filled with perverse characters. To top it all off, the darn thing is a musical. Egad. I have had dreams that were more coherent than this (we are talking me: the guy who once dreamed that the Michelin tire man chased and ate him).

Yeah, I like this movie a lot.

The basic premise is that the Hercules family lives in a weird house. Probably because they are a weird family. One of Flash's chores is to tie up Gramps before going to school! Anyway, in the basement is a portal to the Forbidden Zone. Down there things get really freaky. Fausto and Doris rule over a subterranean world filled with clashing music, a dice motif, and screaming naked slaves (often whipped by the Princess).

The two kids, Flash and Frenchy, go to school and meet Squeezit. The fruitcake is sitting in a trash can. Before you get alarmed by his half hidden arm movements, I should tell you that Squeezit often acts like he is a chicken. It probably does not help that almost everyone in the film is less than fully dressed. We get to see hordes of people in their undergarments. This can make some viewers uncomfortable due to the sort of underwear selected. Let's face it, despite what Victoria's Secret commercials might want us to think, most people's intimate apparel is not very sexy.

School degenerates into a gunfight between the teacher and some students. Frenchy wisely bails out the window. The curious girl sneaks home and enters the basement where a misplaced roller skate sends her into the forbidden gateway. An animated sequence follows, showing Frenchy's trip. To get to the Forbidden Zone you travel through an intestine before eventually being flushed out of a huge squatting butt. At least there are soft pillows under the derriere. The animation reminds me of an old Monty Python bit.

Frenchy's exploration of the strange world is interrupted by the Princess; the intruder is taken to the King for sentencing. He consigns her to cell number sixty-three, where all of his favorite concubines reside. Fausto has a crush on Frenchy, a little detail that the Queen does not miss. The two mismatched royals eventually have a spat over the issue, but Fausto defuses the situation by literally diving onto his prostrate consort.

I forgot to mention that Squeezit's sister (actually cross dressing brother, thank you Ed Wood) had disappeared into the Forbidden Zone earlier. With both "girls" missing, Flash tries to enlist Squeezit's help. He fails and brings Gramps along for the trip through the intestines. Upon arrival, they immediately find three women and begin dry humping the ladies. I mean that they still have their clothes on, but appear to be going to town. Bust Rod captures the would be rescuers.

The Queen has both Flash and Gramps dropped off of a cliff into a large boiler, but they survive. While looking for the way out they are attacked by a gorilla. Flash is knocked off yet another cliff and drops into the prison of the ex-queen. He starts dry humping away as she explains how Doris tricked her and stole the crown. Meanwhile, Gramps wrestles the gorilla. (Are you getting all of this?) After a little bit, he bashes the poor ape's skull in with the cudgel he carries.

Squeezit is still in the normal world, along with his chickens, typewriter, and lascivious parents (dad is a sailor and mom is little better). Flash finds a phone and calls the whacko to beg for help. The appeal works; Squeezit finally screws up his courage and enters the Forbidden Zone.

The geek quickly becomes the prisoner of two black robed figures. One of them is distinctly made out to be a stereotypical sambo character. In fact, they do that a couple of times during the movie. The two captors are agents of Satan. Squeezit is taken to see the Wiza... ....Satan and witnesses Danny Elfman singing yet another version of "Minnie the Moocher" (Mr. Elfman must love that song). The Prince of the Underworld wants the Princess. In return he will ensure that Frenchy and the others are saved (maybe not that way, but the Queen will not get them). The nervous boy agrees, catches the Princess, and is promptly beheaded. Funny thing: they did not have Squeezit's body run around the room like a chicken with its head cut off.

Both queens do meet for a final reckoning and Frenchy does become the new partner to King Fausto. The perplexing movie comes to a close with a song and dance number.

"Forbidden Zone" is weird. Part of that results from the highly stylized sets and costumes. A great deal comes from the fact that the movie was intended to be bizarre. Saying, "I am going to make a cult movie." can be the recipe for disaster, but Elfman's product is so outlandish that b-movie veterans often speak of it in hushed tones. On the other hand, a number of people I know think that the film is stupid and that I am stupid for watching it. The first point is impossible to argue. An opinion of a film cannot be wrong, but I usually beat them up for calling me stupid.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • French accents are a primary cause of nausea.
  • Astral projection is easy to achieve just before going into shock.
  • The normal response to having your ear sawed off is, "Ouch."
  • The only problem with living chandeliers is that you have to change them once in a while.
  • For some people, sexy is a fat woman eating a banana.
  • Marital aids should never exceed 110 volts.
  • Hell has a really good rhythm and blues band.
  • Kicking a frog in the balls with turn it into a lemming.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • I had better not point out RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOTS. The Princess appears often.
  • 5 mins - I think they should get more chalk and give another try at drawing the walls.
  • 7 mins - What is going on?
  • 26 mins - Ow! The pain! The pain! (Of being pelted with fruit.)
  • 32 mins - This is Halloween, this is Halloween...
  • 49 mins - In the real world he would appear on Jerry Springer.
  • 52 mins - I love that girl.
  • 57 mins - Now who is going to direct the rest of the movie? Or was this the final take?

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note forbiddenzone1.wav Doris: "Where is your precious army?"
Fausto: "I will have a whole army of zombies. A zombie Marine Corps, a zombie Navy Corps, a zombie space..."
Doris: "You're really out to lunch."
Green Music Note forbiddenzone2.wav The kids singing about the alphabet in school. Flash seems unhappy with the lesson.
Green Music Note forbiddenzone3.wav Money Changer: "So, what's a nice Jewish boy like you doing in the sixth dimension?"
Flash: "Well, you see gramps, we're here to find my sister, Frenchy."
Green Music Note forbiddenzone4.wav Rene: "The queen said she was going to ream us with twenty inch cattle prods, and I'm still waiting!"
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipforbiddenzone1.mpg - 1.9m
Well, here is twenty seconds of weirdness. Multiply it by two hundred times and you get a good idea of what watching the entire movie is like.

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