Every now and then a movie soundtrack comes along that's probably as enjoyable as the film, if not more so, without having seen the film. Since your chances of finding Forbidden Zone at your local movie house are fairly low at press time, this would be one of those times. The soundtrack, masterminded by Danny Elfman, features music from his band, Oingo Boingo, along with a bunch of old 1920's jazz numbers with characters speaking or otherwise contributing over them. If it sounds a little odd, good-- it is a little odd.
There's also a number of original tunes that really aren't very Boingo, but fans of the band will probably enjoy this because this is essentially the only place featuring the band when they called themselves The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, aside from Gong Show repeats.
The songs, reportedly created over a week or two, have the sort of rushed madness which is often found on such musical rush-jobs. The album is fairly high-energy and without having seen the movie when I first heard it, an enjoyable if at times freakish listening experience. Viewing the film doesn't clarify its meaning all that much, though. There's a woman played by Marie-Pascale Elfman named Frenchie that sings on a few tracks and has an appropriately bad French accent. Susan Tyrrell, best known for a voice-over role in The Chipmunk Adventure, is the film's villain. And there's Princess, a woman from the valley that runs around topless for the whole thing. The songs tell the story of Frenchie's discovering some alternate dimension full of low-budget sets, nonsensical plot, and vaguely racist stereotypes complete with characters in blackface. The 1980 black-and-white film is one of the oddest I've ever seen, with some sets being little more than black marker on large sheets of paper.
Besides the Boingo tunes, there's some numbers from Cab Calloway and a sort of cover, sort of parody of Minnie the Moocher entitled "Squeezit the Moocher." High art meets low art here to produce fairly low art, but this is art for a very specific audience. The album has some songs that are different from the film, and a few tracks are missing from the album that were present on film including at least one really good one. While unfortunate, it's nice to see such an oddball CD is still in print.
The title track "Forbidden Zone" is still in circulation, although slightly changed. Elfman rewrote it for use as the theme to the UPN animated Dilbert show under the name The Dilbert Zone. Odds are about seven people noticed this.
If you don't like what sounds like really bad off-off-off-Broadway musical numbers, the band Oingo Boingo, or the early works of Danny Elfman, this is not for you. If the idea of Danny Elfman playing Satan in a movie with gratuitous nudity, latent racism, and giant frog people appeals to your sense of curiousity, see the movie and then check your bigger music stores (Tower, Virgin Megastore) or your local indie record store for this freakish document. It's weird, and it'll probably make little to no sense to you if you have or haven't seen the movie, but most of it is surprisingly fun to listen to and quite creative. If you were already curious about this album and want to know if you need to hear it, the answer is yes. If you don't know what this is, well, tread lightly.
December 29, 2003