The Beau: a night in the Forbidden Zone

“I’m sorry,” Jette said for perhaps the third or fourth time that day. “If you don’t like the movie, I apologize in advance.”
I once went to a movie Jette recommended and thoroughly hated it. It was a traumatic experience neither of us wants to repeat. Especially Jette.
That evening, we were going to see Forbidden Zone on her recommendation. She was taking a risk, but hedging her bets.
Jette had been telling me about Forbidden Zone for the longest time. At first, it was stories about this bizarre movie made by the Elfman family. Then, once she discovered the DVD was available, it was about how we should have a watching party and freak out all of our friends. Finally, when the Alamo Drafthouse announced they were going to show it with director Richard Elfman in attendance, she announced she was going and gave me the hard-sell pitch to go with her. I agreed, but as the date got closer she was getting anxious. Was our relationship strong enough to survive this twisted little movie?
She needn’t have worried. I had a great time.

Forbidden Zone is a big mashup between movie musicals and underground comics. If the strange and profane sensibilities of underground comics interest you, so too will Forbidden Zone. If underground comics offend or bore you, Forbidden Zone probably will too. The movie even looks like an underground comic. The action is staged on sets that look like comic line art. Things happen in bizarre comic ways. The Princess walks around topless the entire time for no particular reason, which makes complete sense in an underground comic universe. There is lots of dry humping from behind, and girls being walked around in chains—all just for atmosphere.
The transition between our world and the Forbidden Zone is made through animation. There is an R. Crumb comic about a plumber who tries to commit suicide by flushing himself down the toilet. He travels a maze of twisty, curvy pipes, getting smaller and faster, finally emerging from a birth canal. Characters enter the Forbidden Zone the same way, racing through a maze of twisty pipes, finally plopping out from between the legs of a large cardboard cutout.
Richard Elfman said that the movie was done on a shoestring, and it shows. Most of the money went for music rights and animators, and that shows too. I suspect a lot of the songs were arrangements based on other works, such as when Satan (Danny Elfman) sings his offer to trade Frenchy’s life for the Princess to the tune of “Minnie the Moocher.”
There was Q&A with Richard Elfman after the movie. He and the audience mentioned Forbidden Zone 2 several times. I don’t know if that’s a real thing or wishful thinking. Jette suggested it might be an Evil Dead 4 sort of thing.
The movie was shot entirely in black-and-white, which worked out really well with the retro music score. Elfman said the plan was to hand-color the underground scenes, but that never happened.
Afterwards, they were selling DVDs in the lobby. I didn’t feel the need to buy one, but I’m sure glad I saw it. I’m also interested in listening to more Oingo Boingo, the band that evolved from the Forbidden Zone performance troupe.