The Forbidden Zone: Director’s Cut (1980) 

Welcome to the 6th dimension where your every musical oddity dream can be a reality. A teen girl finds herself traveling to this dimension where bizarre events, strange people, and incredible music await her. 

Written by Richard Elfman, Matthew Bright, Martin Nicholson, and Nicholas James, from a story by Richard Elfman who also directed, this is the kind of film that could only be made in 1980 it seems. The story is all over the place in the best of ways, the music is a part of the story’s fabric, showing up everywhere and making the story that much more interesting. The way this film is put together required a clear vision or a little bit of insanity, or perhaps both. Here the film, was shot in black and white, later colorized and has animated sequences that should look familiar even to those who have never seen the film before. This film is and has been influential to many filmmakers and animators since then, so some sequences will bring to mind more recent films. This is the kind of film that will make some want to light up and smoke up before and during, something that is not for everyone, but definitely would not be frowned upon by the creators involved. However, one might want to keep a clear mind as there are a lot of different characters here, some interesting accents, and some random twists and turns in the story that will require full attention to be fully followed and understood.  

Filmed before the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo became simple Oingo Boingo, this film contains plenty of their music. Credited for the music here is Danny Elfman, clearly a strong force behind the creation of this film. His work here should sound familiar and if it does not yet, it will in the future as the songs are catchy and stick around as earworms for a while. 

The cinematography by Gregory Sandor is spot on for the film’s needs. The images move with the rhythm, with the music, with the characters, the images are part of them and one of them. This is the way to film something like this, merge the images and the music, make them one with the characters and elevate a film from a piece of cinema to an artistic experience.  

The cast here is wild and varied with Danny Elfman as Satan, a stage presence that is mesmerizing, director Richard Elfman as a Masseur, Hervé Villechaize as King Fausto of the Sixth Dimension, Marie-Pascale Elfman as Frenchy, Susan Tyrrell as both Queen Doris of the Sixth Dimension and Ruth Henderson, etc. The cast is huge and everyone gives a performance that is interesting in one way or another. Of course, Satan, the King, the Queen, and Frenchy are the ones that will grab the attention and never let it go. This is an ensemble film and this ensemble understood the assignment, which seems to be ever changing, and delivered exactly what was needed of them. 

The director’s cut blu ray comes with two intros, one filmed in 2015 and one filmed in 2022 where Richard Elfman is seen running around and driving around Los Angeles before introducing the film. The tone of these is on point for his style of filmmaking. The blu has interviews that are more than worth checking out, an audio commentary, outtakes, deleted scenes, and a few more surprises. This is one worth the double dip for fans who may have bought its previous incarnation. 

The Forbidden Zone as a film is a piece of perfect nostalgia for 1980 and an entertaining musical that clearly has some inspiration from Faust and maybe even a little Alice in Wonderland. The music is awesome and one of the main reasons to seek this out. The visuals are fantastic and the colorization of the black and white-shot film gives it a dreamlike feel that adds to the experience. The blu here looks great and sounds great.