RICHARD ELFMAN: INTO THE “FORBIDDEN ZONE” AGAIN

So what brings about this re-release of “Forbidden Zone”? Is it something you’ve been wanting to do for a while?
Yes, it’s something that I had wanted to do for a while and I guess it was just time. I have been getting fan mail for the last few years asking about a DVD and the demand seemed to be building. A good friend of mine, a producer named Jack Murphy, kind of gave me the kick in the rear to get this going (Jack just produced Stephen Gaghan’s script, “Havoc,” with Anne Hathaway and Bijou Phillips). Then the Landmark Theatre chain offered to run the film in a series of midnight shows. So here we go!

So does this mean that a DVD release of “Forbidden Zone” is just around the corner? If so, do you have any special features in mind?
We will release the DVD in the early fall. It will be a high def transfer off the original 35mm negative, light-years better than the washed out image and crappy sound on the old VHS. It will feature deleted scenes, interviews and commentary tracks with key personnel, including brother Danny, Matthew Bright and others, plus tons of photos and behind the scenes stuff. Also, I had based “Forbidden Zone” on an earlier 16mm film called the “Hercules Family” and we will put some of that on as well.

What brought about the creation of “Forbidden Zone” all those years ago?
I had a musical/theatrical troupe called the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, which later morphed into the rock band, Oingo Boingo. My intent was to capture on the film what we had been doing live on stage.

How did you go about writing something that insane? Was it just random ideas you wound up putting to film or was there more of a focus. Maybe a lot of drugs?
Well, no drugs, but a lot of crazy uninhibited FUN. I based the plot around the musical numbers and kind of let the old “free artistic drooling clown spirit” take over without thought of commerciality or who or what I might offend. Life can be viewed from many perspectives, including one of Absolute Absurdity.

Was it just an unsaid plan that Danny would be doing music for the film, or did you have to talk him into doing it?
I was the “Grand Potangi,” or “director” of the original Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo and Danny was the “Grand Hoodoo of Musical Voodoo.” He was composing for our shows and was the natural guy to do the film score. I think I chose well, don’t you think?

How did you assemble such an interesting cast?
I didn’t have to look too far. Frenchy (Marie Pascale Elfman) was my wife at the time and female lead of the Mystic Knights. Danny (who played Satan) is my brother. Squeezit & Rene Henderson (Toshiro Boloney) was really Matthew Bright, a childhood friend of Danny’s and an original Mystic Knight. Matthew went on to write “Guncrazy,” which broke Drew Barrymore as an adult actress and he wrote and directed “Freeway,” which broke Reese Witherspoon as an adult. His new film, Tiptoes, stars Gary Oldman as a dwarf in love with Kate Beckinsale. “Tiptoes” was written many years ago for Herve Villechaize (King Fausto), who was Matthew’s roommate at the time. Herve’s ex girlfriend was Susan Tyrrell, who played the Queen and Squeezit’s mom. All in the family, so to speak.

How was it working with Herve Villechaize? Was he cool?
Super cool. He came on weekends and painted sets. He was warm, charming, charismatic, funny… and had an eye for the ladies. I miss the little fucker.

What was the reaction to the film back then?
It kind of came and went. Zip! I had lost my shirt paying for it and went back to France for a while with Frenchy, when I came back, the summer theatrical run was over. To be honest, I was surprised a few years ago when I put my first website up and started getting hundreds and thousands of hits from people all over the world. I was recently flown to London and Barcelona for film festivals showing it. Life is strange.

Was the midnight movie scene different back then than it is now? More sex, drugs and violence in the theaters perhaps?
Although the Rocky Horror thing was getting going, it is a much tamer film than “Forbidden Zone”. We take off the gloves, so to speak. Political Correctness was more virulent then and we had arson threats at several theaters and were kicked off a few east coast campuses where free speech was really under attack by sanctimonious Political Correctness Police, the sniveling, mother-fucking assholes. Joseph McCarthy must have been smiling in his grave!

On this latest tour of the film, which city do you anticipate to be the rowdiest?
Denver apparently has a punk bar across the street from the theater and is planning a wild pre-party. I asked the theater manager if I attended the party in a clown suit and started beating a large base drum, would people follow me across the street to the screening? The manager said, “yes, probably,” so I am sending my clown collars to the cleaners. I will attend as many screenings as possible. I really like wild parties and have no shame whatsoever in terms of crazy brazen promotional stunts. No shame whatsoever.

What type of person would you say enjoys “Forbidden Zone” the most?
Ah, discerning individuals of the highest aesthetic standards! And of course, only the most sophisticated of drooling fools and maniacs.

What’s up next for you, Richard?
A wacky musical fantasy in the spirit of “Forbidden Zone” called “The Sixth Element” (working title). Lots of Crouching Tiger/Hidden Stooges action along with insane musical sequences. Also a Stephen Kingish film called “Trio,” about three degenerate geezers who attain supernatural powers and destroy a town.

Last question – Do you think you can get your brother to do a Boingo reunion for us?
Doesn’t seem too likely, alas. I just got off the phone with the kid and he is working round the clock on “Spider-Man 2,” then he has Tim Burton’s “Chocolate Factory” to do. Funny you asked, though. Last night I was at an Oingo Boingo tribute band concert, a group called Dead Man’s Party. They are really good. I was with original Oingo Boingo guitarist/arranger Steve Bartek and we had the best time and were quite impressed by the performance. I don’t see Danny doing this in the foreseeable future, but I recommend Dead Man’s Party in the meantime for one’s Boingo fix.

Check out the new official “Forbidden Zone” website.




Posted on April 13, 2004 in Interviews by

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