Posts Tagged ‘Alice’

Music and Movie Moment: Forbidden Zone

March 31, 2010

Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo — Forbidden Zone (title song)

Forbidden Zone (Richard Elfman, 1980) starred the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, later to be renamed just Oingo Boingo, wild gypsy cult genius Susan Tyrell, Viva — Warhol’s Blue Movie Superstar, believed to be the first non-anonymous performer to have sex on screen — and Hervé Villechaize, better known as Tattoo (“Zee plane!”) on Fantasy Island, as the king of the Sixth Dimension. Also, award-winning composer Danny Elfman plays Satan.

It is a wonderful, unforgettable mess. It begins with a title card informing us that, while on a mission to retrieve some heroin from the basement of one of the vacant homes in the Los Angeles basin where he also makes his living as a slumlord, a pimp named Huckleberry accidentally discovered a portal to the Sixth Dimension, which, once he cleaned the drugs from, he then sold to the Hercules family, who are the main Earth-side characters in the film.

(The frog is named Bust Rod. Later, he has sex with a topless Princess. He is pretty fly for a frog. Think about it: when is the last time you banged a panties-only Princess? See? Fly.)

“Oey vey — the Yiddishe Charleston!” Gene Cunningham and Virginia Rose play Ma and Pa Hercules, although Cunningham is credited under his actual name only as playing the role of the pimp, Huckleberry Jones — for his role as Jones’ tenant, and pere to the Hercules clan, he is listed as Ugh Fudge Bwana.


Matthew Bright plays Squeezit, one of the film’s protagonists and classmate to Flash Hercules and the lovely and talented Miss Susan B. Hercules, aka “Frenchy.” Frenchy is arguably the lead character of Forbidden Zone, and her journey into the Sixth Dimension is the impetus for the majority of the film’s action. Oh, my stars and garters, could Squeezit possibly be a reference to masturbation?? Perish the thought. Bright also shares writing credits for the screenplay.


At the time the movie was filmed, Marie-Pascal Elfman (nee Saboff), who plays Frenchy, pictured above and below, was married to Richard Elfman. She is the mother of Bodhi Elfman, who is Jenna “Dharma” Elfman’s husband. Jenna and Bodhi met waiting on line to audition for a Sprite commercial.

Ms. Saboff Elfman served not only as the star of Forbidden Zone but was also responsible for the majority of the sets, which she designed and erected inside two separate sound stages. The Expressionist sets feature dice motifs, forced perspective, and stippling. They were mainly painted by hand on to paper which she then hung all around the sound stages, changing the backdrops as scenes required it.


Some examples of the animation sequences and production design. The design was heavily influenced by pre-WWII cartoons and the work of Max Fleischer and the Fleischer Brothers’ Studios, the best examples of whose animation you probably know being Betty Boop and Popeye. Together with a soundtrack that, besides original songs performed by Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo and “the Kipper Kids,” featured music by Cab Calloway and Josephine Baker, the movie’s design and feel really harkened back to the 1930’s, despite dealing with weirdo modern wonderfully cultish themes.


The picture takes a dim view of a) Los Angeles and b) the sad state of public schools. Well-viewed, picture (well shone, Moon), but I think the movie’s overall Expressionist, 1930’s cartoonish artistic glory is really not intended as a plot-driven vehicle for social commentary so much as it is an endless parade of visuals that will stick with you for life. Any knowing send-ups of modern convention are virtually coincidental. The movie is like an acid trip through a Hollywood backlot. The number “Swingin’ Through the Alphabet,” from which the above screencap comes, was inspired by the Three Stooges short “Violent is the Word for Curly.”



…A respectful fan asked Mr. Elfman “What the fuck were you thinking?” Elfman replied that he was trying to capture on film the spontaneous creative energy of his legendary band “the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo.” In the 70s they performed all kinds of crazy performance music theater, a kind of tripped out cabaret in L.A and NYC.

(“Review of Richard Elfman’s cult masterpiece FORBIDDEN ZONE in color!” MacDermot, Hal. 20 July 2009. Quiet Earth.)

“Frenchy” lands in the Sixth Dimension and King Fausto falls in love with her. This makes Queen Doris, played by Susan Tyrell, understandably upset. So she has Frenchy thrown in prison. Don’t you wish you could do that to people? “Send her to jail.” “Um, what’s the charge?” “She looked at him.” Very Red Queen and yet legitimately reasonable. As Psycho McJealouspants, proud holder of a degree in Flipping the Fuck Out (minor in Coming Unglued with special concentration in Keying Your Car) from Sex-Makes-Me-Crazy State University, I totally approve.


The animation was done by John Muto, who at the time was virtually an unknown. He has gone on to work on some of my favoritest movies, including Night of the Comet, Heart and Souls (I am a sucker for Robert Downey, Jr. every time), and Wilder Napalm (as a closet pyro, that movie is so hot to me).

For my money, one of the main reasons to watch is the Princess, here, but that’s just the type of predatory, untrustworthy, ulteriorally motivated person I am.

Outre freaky musicals are fun to watch and fascinating as cultural artifacts, yes, but can we not also agree that way cool as well are tiny blondes, and when they are topless, so much the nicer for us all?

I am unafraid to make that statement. I also like lemon meringue pie. I consider the preferences of equal harmlessness. Alert the media.


The insane “Kipper Brothers” [do] a mad musical number as boxers which involves punching themselves and blowing raspberries, and evolves into a Rumba sung by a fat kid with a Mr. Ed talking mule superimposed mouth effect, and the adorable Frenchy dancing with Mr. Bust Rod.

(MacDermot.)



Actor Hervé Villechaize was the only actor with a paid salary. (the wiki)

Getting paid to get yelled at by your ex-girlfriend is I guess better than having to do it for free, yes?


TW: The Kipper Kids, who, for those who don’t know, are notorious, diaper-wearing, soccer-hooligan, lip-farting performance artists.

RE: Yes. The Kipper Kids. You know, it’s Presley, Sinatra … the Kipper Kids. Great vocalists can do so much with a number.

(DiGiovanna.)



He wrote, directed, produced, choreographed and generally supervised all aspects of “The Forbidden Zone.” It took 21 days on a sound stage scattered over ten months – including a number of weeks in a garage with animator John Muto. Elfman’s wife, Marie-Pascale Elfman designed and painted the paper sets (with help from Villechaiz) and co-starred Elfmans 29-year-old brother, Danny (leader of a musical ensemble known as Oingo Boingo), wrote the striking music and played Satan.

(“The Man Behind ‘Forbidden Zone’.” Rense, Rip. August 18, 1982. L.A. Herald-Examiner.)



Chicken: You know the chickens are always ready to help you any way we can. But as you know…
Squeezit: What can chickens do?
Chicken: Precisely.

Squeezit thinks he is a chicken. It’s a problem a lot of boys have.



The cast includes Toshiro Baloney, The Kipper Kids, Viva and someone called Ugh Fudge-Bwana. “This is actually a phonetic spelling of his name, which is Swedish and difficult to pronounce,” explained Elfman. (Ibid.)


“Call it a bizarre comedy with music. If I could describe it better, I’d be a journalist,” said Elfman. He might be. Elfman is certainly documenting some aspects of modern American culture, however idiosyncratically. This movie does indeed defy more specific quantification. (An hour-long earlier version entitled “The Hercules Family” was refused by numerous distributors as “Being a threat to national security.”)

(Ibid.)

Oh, my god, Elfman fed that dude for the Herald-Examiner so many lies and half-truths. What a trip. It’s cracking me up.


After escaping the septic tank, Flash and Gramps come across a woman who tells them that she was once happily married to the king, until Doris stole the throne by seducing her, “even though she’s not my type.” The ex-queen has been sitting in her cell for 1,000 years, and has been writing a screenplay in order to keep her sanity.

(the wiki)



Tuscon Weekly: Aside from the Kipper Kids, the biggest star in the movie was Hervé Villechaize, who plays King Fausto. How did you get him?

Richard Elfman: Matthew Bright was his roommate. His ex-girlfriend was (Forbidden Zone co-star) Susan Tyrrell. Herve and Susan were already exes when the film was being shot, and periodically, they’d have tremendous fights. And it was comic/tragic, because she had a voice box from the Lincoln repertory, you could hear her from 2,000 yards away. And Herve had a small voice, so you could hear him squawking and hear her yelling.

(“Intestinal Fortitude.” DiGiovanna, James. March 31, 2005. Tuscon Weekly.)


The truly bizarre Forbidden Zone features among its wealth of surrealistic imagery the late Hervé Villechaize as the libidinous king of the sixth dimension; expressionistic production design that would drive Dr. Caligari to distraction; and Richard’s brother Danny, more recently the composer of virtually every modern film score you truly enjoy listening to repeatedly, as a Cab Calloway-fetishizing Satan – all of whom live in the basement, sort of, of the extended Hercules clan.

(“I Know That Voice.” Savlov, Marc. July 30, 2004. Austin Chronicle.)


Far different from the brother Danny-fronted Oingo Boingo of “Weird Science,” this multi-Elfmaned project (alongside Danny there’s Richard’s wife, Marie-Pascale Elfman, as heroine Frenchy) is a genuine curiosity, part vaudeville act, part borderline softcore raunch, and completely, utterly weird in the best sense of the word. (Ibid.)

Following the film’s color release on DVD from Fantoma and Legend Films, it was announced that a sequel was in the works. With an allegedly slated release date of 2010, Forbidden Zone II: Forbidden Galaxy has the following imdb summary, written by Richard Elfman himself.


Ma and Pa Kettle leave the depressed Dust Bowl with their kids, Stinky and Petunia, and drive their old jalopy down to Crenshaw in South-Central Los Angeles. Stinky is a hyper-active 12-year-old; Petunia is a lumbering 13-year-old; Ma is a corn-cob pipe-smoking inbred, and Pa is a craven, drunken carnival geek…with a bad disposition…even before his carnival job folded after the last dust storm. Together, they hope to find a better life in California. Unfortunately, the little shack they rent has a basement connected to the Sixth Dimension, ruled by a horny midget king who is growing an army of dead zombie babies…to take over Earth.

Coming soon to a theater near you?

Most stills courtesy Pilar Sama and you&me via the Nostalgia Party No. 2 community on the lj. Thanks!

O frabjous day of twenty-two-ness: batshit-bananas numerology, and baseball spring fever

February 22, 2010

“O, frabjous day! Calloo, callay!” (Carroll, Jabberwocky.)

Computer is fixed!, day off with the littl’un!, Spring Training has begun! and it’s my favorite day of the year — 2/22! Historically, this is my lucky day. I’ve always liked this date best out of the rest of the calendar. Twenty-two is my lucky number from very, very far back, followed closely by two itself (twenty-two trumps just-two because what’s better than one two? two twos. three twos, as in two-hundred-twenty-two, are okay but still inferior because they are three and not two in number. do not attempt to unravel this logic) and this was also the birthday of my first friend, Alex; feeding ducks with her by the little pond at Noble Library in San Jose is one of my first memories of laughing just from being happy. I wish it stopped there with the whyness of twenty-two-ness, but I get kind of …. into numbers.

See also: my lucky time (10:22 PM, or 22:22); the pages of Treasure Island and Wuthering Heights on which I hide money (222 and 22, respectively); the exact uniform number of Robinson Cano and less auspiciously Roger Clemens.


Julie Newmar: “Batterrrr uuup!”

Ask me someday about my theory that he is two people, one the familiar Texan do-gooder and all-around nice fellow Roger Clemens we came to love, and the other an evil, lying, cauldron of seething rage named Rogero Clemenzetti. A wicked and long-dormant personality who will stop at nothing to satisfy his creepy id-like aims, Clemenzetti emerged after a rat bit Clemens in an otherwise empty subway car between Long Island and New York, and he has never been successfully suppressed ever since — it is a very sad case of Jekyll-and-Hyde and I’m surprised no one else has caught it.


Picture from Star Trek Movie Night at the Giants’ AT&T park via Trek Movie.com, taken 4/27/09. I did not attend, as I was at the zoo with my kidlet for her 5th birthday — but we went to the movie later that week and we both cried at the beginning; we are diehard fans of Treks TOSand TNG (not so much the soapier others), but we looooved the reboot and did not find it sacrilegious at all (hot boys don’t hurt neither, and it’s about time we got some girl fan service up in this piece!).

In other thrilling baseball connections, 22 is half of the jersey number of Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson (4’s and 44 are goodish numbers because of their relationship with 2, being both the square of it and divisible by it, but 8, despite being not just a multiple but its cube is not as good, I feel less comfortable around 8 because it’s just getting too far from 2); 20 (an also-very-very good number because 2 + 0 = 2) less than the number of one of the sport’s greatest heroes, Jackie Robinson (being 42 which is a super-very good number because of DA); and, best of all, it is 20 + 2, 20 being Jorge Posada’s jersey number, though he wore 22 for a few weeks in 1997, before the re-acquisition of Mike Stanley (meh), when Posada switched to 20 so Stanley could once more wear 22 (again, MEH).


Gwen Stefani: “Batterrrr uuup!”

As you can see, 22 is the best number there is, 20 and 2 being close seconds, and therefore 2/22 is the best day of the year. Period. Also: baseball.


Baseball players always have bubble butts. I do not know what repetitive motion it is they do that gives them woman hips, but they’ve all got ’em, except for lanky pitchers, who just have bad knees.

Sorry for the long and pointless diversion but if nothing else, I hope this has proven to you the depths of my numerical mania, and the next time I scoff at the zodiac, feel free to remind me that I have insanely detailed schools of superstition of my own and would do well not to throw stones.


via Michael Leget on the photobucket.

If you think all that was bad, you should talk to my husband, who is medicated for obsessive compulsive disorder, some time about the Importance of Doing Things By Three. He will make a believer of you or die trying. It’s a passion that probably frightened away other, wiser girls, but actually endeared him to me.

Anticipation: Mad Tea Party edition

January 31, 2010


`Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.

`No, I give it up,’ Alice replied:`what’s the answer?’

`I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.

`Nor I,’ said the March Hare.


Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’

`If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, `you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.’


“High Tea” by Sugarrock99 on the deviantart.

`I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alice.

`Of course you don’t!’ the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!’

`Perhaps not,’ Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.’

`Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatter. `He won’t stand beating.’


“Tea Party” by Laurence Philomene on the flickr, also to be found as MY NAME IS LAURENCE on the tumblr.

`Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

`I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, `so I can’t take more.’

`You mean you can’t take less,’ said the Hatter: `it’s very easy to take more than nothing.’


The forthcoming incarnation. Click to see immensely large @ high-resolution.

`Nobody asked your opinion,’ said Alice.

`Who’s making personal remarks now?’ the Hatter asked triumphantly.

Alice did not quite know what to say to this: so she helped herself to some tea.


“We’re All Mad Here” by JessRabbit on the redbubble.

`Really, now you ask me,’ said Alice, very much confused, `I don’t think–‘

`Then you shouldn’t talk,’ said the Hatter.

This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off.



“Alice in Wonderland 10” by hooray on the deviantart.

Neither of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping that they would call after her: the last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.

`At any rate I’ll never go there again!’ said Alice as she picked her way through the wood. `It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!’


(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, Chapter XII.)


“Mad Tea Party” by Gurololi on the deviantart.

“And you’ll die with the rose
still on your lips,
and in time the heart-shaped bone
that was your hips.

And the worms,
they will climb
the ragged ladder
of your spine,
We’re all mad here.” — Tom Waits, “We’re all Mad Here,” Alice (Anti Records, 2002).




Previous Alice anticipation posts can be found here.