Vintage Cablebox

“Forbidden World, 1982”

“Get naked.”

Forbidden World, 1982 (Jesse Vint), New World Pictures

SOMETHING IS WRONG ON XARBIA! Eggheads create problems. Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) finds solutions. In a by-the-numbers “B” movie narrative, you get a bunch of scientists together aiming to end galaxy-wide starvation, but instead, they create a monstrous killing machine, dubbed “Subject 20,” derived, hilariously from synthetic proteins. I’m reminded of all the hysteria surrounding “gentically modified” food. People need to understand that movies are not real. It’s called fiction for a reason, regardless of the source’s authenticity or suspension of disbelief. Movies are not real. There are no real terminators running around. There are no aliens out there with acid for blood. Cinderella is a fairy tale. Although I was distressed to see that the latest batch of Crystal Pepsi was “genetically engineered,” according to it’s packaging.

This is one of those wonderful, sexy, exploitative science fiction movies (nary any redeeming value other than schlock) that would crop up on late night movie channels as a remedy for fighting insomnia. The monster on the poster (a spider-like gargoyle creation) is not the monster in the finished movie. The creature in the movie looks like a mutated Kool-Aid Man. Stylistically, Forbidden World rips off Alien, but only to a certain point. The creature in question is the product of genetic engineering that started life as an alternative food source intended to end famine. Released a month before John Carpenter’s The Thing, there are stark similarities to the creature’s ultimate power: to replicate the DNA of it’s prey, which is then consumed.

This would all be intriguing subject matter if made with a little more care than Roger Corman and Jim Wynorski (Screwballs) could provide. Instead, it’s a flimsy excuse for the females in the cast to take off their clothes and have sex with the males. Not that I have a problem with that; June Chadwick (from V: The Series) and Dawn Dunlap are very easy on the eyes, but in the Wynorski lexicon, a plain-old scientist is boring if he or she isn’t sex-starved with a nice body. If the primary influence of Alien was Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, then Forbidden World’s influence appears to be Friday the 13th. Hot sex is the quickest journey to a pine box! Remember that, kids.

Forbidden World was released in an unusual clutch of sexy horror/science-fiction movies; the follw-up to Corman’s Galaxy of Terror (with production design by James Cameron), Horror Planet (originally released as Inseminoid), directed by Norman J. Warren (who also directed Alien Prey) and the no-budget thriller, Nightbeast. Corman (in requisite fashion) re-uses footage from Battle Beyond the Stars and Galaxy of Terror to make Forbidden World. Still, it’s a fun, dirty little science fiction movie which, were it made today, would have all the sexuality stripped of it and (oddly) made more violent with a PG-13 rating.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.


David Lawler has written for Film Threat, VHS Rewind, Second Union, and his own blog, Misadventures in BlissVille. Lawler has produced several podcasts including That Twilighty Show About That Zone, Two Davids Walk Into A Bar (with co-host David Anderson), EQ Lawler/Saltz (with Alex Saltz), and Upstairs at Froelich's (with co-host John Froelich).

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