“Forbidden Zone”: Night Flight interviews director Richard Elfman

By on November 13, 2015

Nearly thirty years ago, the shock cinema musical masterpiece Forbidden Zone made its television debut on USA Network’s “Night Flight” (hey!), and today, in 2015, we’ve come full circle with the newly-colorized film. Watch it now on Night Flight Plus! For some backstory on this cult treasure and a peek at its future (Forbidden Zone 2 anyone?), be sure to read contributor Kara Jean’s candid interview with director Richard Elfman below.

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As we all bitch and moan about how nothing new is good anymore, just know that the original film that single-handedly turned us into the cretinous snobs with impeccable taste that we are today by raising the bar to unbeatable heights, is turning thirty-five this year. Yes, Forbidden Zone is back, and in better form than ever, with a brand new “Ultimate Edition” Blu-ray release, spearheaded by director Richard Elfman himself, who we are lucky enough to speak with here!

Unfortunately, when “Night Flight” was airing the film, Elfman had lost control of the rights, and told us he thought it had all but disappeared. Nevertheless, he was thrilled to see the film emerge on Night Flight, and the Midnight Matinee circuit, gaining steam as a cult favorite worldwide.

In 2014, he was able to heroically regain the rights to his film, and he has now re-released Forbidden Zone in mega-form, with a veritable TON of brand new extras, including color-optional mode; extra scenes from the original FZ brainchild, ‘Hercules Family’, as well as never-before-seen deleted scenes, a brand new intro, and the full original soundtrack on CD as an added bonus (and much, much more!).

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We at Night Flight were thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Richard Elfman directly about this exciting new release through MVD Entertainment Group, as well as his other upcoming projects:

Says Richard Elfman, “This is the first time I had the level of control I wanted [via film releasing company, MVD]. They maintained the artistic integrity of the film.. And they let me tweak everything with the color!”

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He goes on to explain that this colorized format is the way he’d always envisioned the film to be, as originally the intent was to not have the print remain in black and white, but to have the film hand-painted in China; a method popularly used in the 1920’s. However, he went on to explain, this was not within reach per the original budget circa 1980.

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“Every month or so I’m flown a different city to screen Forbidden Zone — ironically to a house packed by mostly millennials who weren’t even born when the film came out. We’ll recruit local talent and put a wild pre-live pre-show. My wife Anastasia (aka “Dahlia Dimont”) will open with a room-heating burlesque act—along with some local stars—then I come marching in with my crazy band-mates. Too much damned FUN!!

Anyway, now, we’re working on the Forbidden Zone SEQUEL!”

Elfman’s enthusiasm is as equally contagious as the flu he’s fighting, brought upon him, he admits, by his avidly gregarious Hollywood party-hosting in the days and weeks prior to this interview. His excitement never wanes, though, as he careens us through the haunted funhouse maze of his passion projects.

He continues, “Forbidden Zone 2 is going to be Bigger! Badder! Bolder! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry! You’ll wet your pants!,” he promises. Elfman is in full-on carnival barker mode, and it’s clear to see how easily he was able to rally the creative freaks in his corner, including brother and Forbidden Zone composer/co-creator, Danny Elfman, who has already agreed to score the new project.

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“It’s a timeless fantasy universe!!”, he describes animatedly, “Cirque du Soleil is choreographing Jenna Elfman’s ghost-chicken dance number!”

He goes on to explain the sequel’s plot, but we’re already sold. This was a long ago idea, now put together by the power of a successful Indiegogo campaign, bringing the attentions of big name Hollywood producers, further solidifying its creation.

“I’m fortunate to have an amazing team assembled for FZ2, including multiple Oscar-winning producer Mark Harris (Gods and Monsters, Crash, Million Dollar Baby) and acclaimed international producer Debbie Vandermeulen. Lotta work, but we’re moving closer to production!”

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Will there be reprised roles from the original film in the sequel? Possibly! Gisele Lindley, who played the Princess, has been calling me lately. Maybe I’ll put her in a dungeon sex scene with (co-writer, actor) Matthew Bright!”

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We asked if there are any old stories of on-set shenanigans to share:

“Oh! Well, speaking of Matthew Bright, the ‘Charming Reprobate,’ during filming, he’s sitting in a chair as [the character] René, and, well, Matthew’s a sinner, and so he was struck down! A twelve-foot lighting stand falls right on him, and he got knocked (boom!) right outta the chair. So just imagine us all in the emergency room, and Matthew dressed as René, but completely covered in blood on a gurney… We, uh, got some stares..!”

Susan Tyrrell is a NF stock favorite, as well, and the interview Richard gave her in an earlier 2004 DVD release of the film is so brilliant. We ask, is this interview included in the upcoming Forbidden Zone Ultimate Edition extras? And can you please tell us some Susu stories?!:

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Richard replies,”(laughing) Yes, it is on the new release! But let me tell you, Susan Tyrrell was a handful and a troublemaker! First of all, in that interview I did with her that you’re referring to; you can’t see it off camera, but, you know by this time she had her wooden legs [Susan had lost both legs below the knee due to a rare blood disease that she unfortunately succumbed to in 2012]. But she never lost her wicked humor, as Richard goes on to say, “She kept grinding her wooden leg into my crotch during the entire interview! (laughing) I kept having to pause, saying, ‘Stop it, Susan! Jesus Christ!”

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“Oh, and you know Marie Pascale, who played ‘Frenchy’ in the film, well she invited us all to this blueblood-type party in France. And the people were pretty rude to us, but Susan just wasn’t having it, no way. One girl in particular had been being very rude to Susan, just insinuating attitude, and at one point Susan grabbed this girl by the arm and burned her lit cigarette out on her wrist!”

“And she was always bringing these young guys around the set to make Hervé [Villechaize] jealous. Because, you know, they were a couple. And they would FIGHT! I think between Hervé and Matthew [Bright], the two of them probably fucked every single cast member and extra on set!”

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Oh, to be a fly on the wall. . .

Some other surprises that Richard shared with us are the Forbidden Zone OST coming out on vinyl, the Forbidden Zone 2 web series (still in the works), and the Forbidden Zone 2 video game (!?!), which is being worked on concurrently with the filming of the sequel. Be still my heart!

We’ll hopefully have more info as these developments take place, so stay tuned!

Here’s hoping Richard feels better soon so he can keep bringing the weirdness and spreading the cheer!

And with that, we’ll leave you all with a quote from Susan Tyrrell’s infamous horny-limbed interview in response to how she felt about Richard Elfman’s 2004 The Forbidden Zone DVD release, where she sums it all up so succinctly:

“I’m happy that this is out in the Cosmos, for all the worldwide freaks to enjoy!”

The Forbidden Zone Ultimate Edition DVD and Blu-Ray is available for purchase, so buy now or watch Forbidden Zone now on Night Flight Plus!

Forbidden Zone 2 release date TBA.

Photos courtesy of Richard Elfman

About Kara Jean

Remover, Shaker, & Insufferable Media Snob.