A space guy named Mike and his robot companion Sam visit an isolated research station on a desert planet to help stop an experimental creature from killing everyone. Despite Mike’s best efforts, the creature does in fact kill everyone, but dies when it’s fed a cancerous tumor. In the end, Mike breaks even: he loses Sam, but gets a girlfriend.
A lone spaceship travels through the cosmos. Its sole human occupant, Mike Colby, is awakened by his robot companion Sam. Classical music plays as Mike’s ship fights off food raiders in a stock sci-fi spaceship battle, made even stockier due to the fact that it’s all footage reused from one of producer Roger Corman‘s previous films.
After the battle, Sam tells Mike that they’ve been ordered to check out a research station on the desert world Xarbia. Sorry, Mike. Your vacation will have to wait.
The Planet Xarbia
On Xarbia, Mike meets the station’s staff: Gordon the director, his assistant Barbara, scientist guy Cal, et. al. They tell Mike about an experiment that’s gone horribly wrong: a metamorphic creature called Subject 20. This creature was supposed to provide the solution to the galaxy’s food crisis, but it mutated and escaped containment, killing a bunch of lab animals before cocooning itself behind a glass case. Mike offers helpful advice on how to solve this problem: “We should get rid of it.”
Gordon is perturbed at this suggestion, “scientific research often takes us into uncharted territory.” Mike retorts, “I’m not talking about territory, doctor. I’m talking about strange little creatures that kill.” They eat strawberry shortcake afterwards.
The First Casualty
One of the computers alerts Jimmy to strange readings coming from the cocoon – something’s coming out! He opens the glass case to get a closer look and the organism jumps on his face! He screams and knocks every breakable item off the lab’s shelves before finally collapsing and dying. Subject 20 slithers away.
The others find Jimmy’s body and are understandably upset, especially lab technician Tracy, his girlfriend. Cal wheels Jimmy’s body away for further study, and the others look for the creature. When they can’t find it, they turn in for the night.
We get a montage of everyone’s nightly activities: Tracy mourns Jimmy’s death, Brian plays a translucent musical instrument, and Barbara invites Mike to her quarters for a lovemaking session. The computer alerts security officer Earl to Subject 20’s movements. He goes down long, dimly lit corridors to search for the creature (which he calls a dingwhopper), but in the end, Earl is easy prey…
The next morning, Mike interrupts Tracy’s appointment with a tanning booth to flirt with her. The creature makes an appearance and prompts the would-be couple (poor Barbara) to flee. Brian and a few others meet up with Mike and Tracy, and the dingwhopper escapes outside.
Mike, Brian, Gordon, and Sam arm themselves and leave the station to search for the beastie. It fatally wounds Gordon and gets back in the station through a tunnel, landing behind Tracy in the control room. She screams and runs out, but instead of pursing her, the creature seems content to chill on top of a shelf.
Barbara has the idea to communicate with the creature. She instant messages it on a workstation computer.
Its tentacle impales Barbara and blood sprays everywhere. Good thing Jimmy’s already dead because he’d have a nervous breakdown if he had to clean this mess! Brian is the next to die when he attempts to send out a distress signal (the communications computer just happens to be right behind the creature). The creature sprays acid on his legs and then he gets electrocuted.
The Final Battle
Eventually, Cal discovers that the creature’s weakness is cancer, and we discover that HE has cancer. Mike cuts him open and removes a huge tumor from his liver. Sam is destroyed, Tracy screams a lot, and Mike shoves the tumor inside the creatures mouth, destroying it.
I really wanted to like this film, but I was ultimately disappointed. It was a low-budget remake of Alien whittled down to the core, with the character and charm replaced by schlock and gratuitous nudity. Had this movie had some interesting quirks, or something really memorable or different, all would be forgiven. Note that Forbidden World originally did have a few humorous moments, but Roger Corman wanted a totally serious movie and ordered their removal (they have since been restored in a director’s cut). These moments are minimal, though, and fail to redeem the film.
While I appreciated the classical music, the whole first scene with the fight against the food raiders is pointless. The only reason this scene appears is so its footage could show up in the movie’s trailers. A space battle is a proven way to entice people to see a film, right?
The characters were all lifeless and boring. Our hero Mike showed some attitude at the beginning but then sort of fizzles out. What I do like about Mike, though, is how he doesn’t look like a traditional, young action hero. He’s a bit older and looks like a regular guy.
Gordon had a couple decent lines in his first few scenes. He was obsessed with the creature and finding a solution to the food shortage, and we got a taste of what could have been a good debate, on scientific progress and making sacrifices to save countless lives. However, the hunt for the creature upstages any sort of meaningful dialogue Gordon can provide. This is, of course a B-movie.
Tracy was the quintessential damsel in distress, and an obnoxious one at that. All she did was scream. At the end of the film, there’s a part where the creature knocks Mike onto the floor and he drops the tumor. Tracy picks it back up, and instead of trying to throw it into the monster’s mouth herself, she just puts it back in Mike’s hand. Way to go, Tracy.
Cal and Barbara were probably the best of the lot because they seemed intelligent and actively worked on finding an effective way to deal with the creature. Brian, Earl, and Jimmy were just redshirts for the creature to eat. And Sam could have been cooler (a couple of his lines dripped with sarcasm), but he was voiced by a child, which was a little weird. He has a different, more synthesized voice in the director’s cut.
The solution of destroying the creature with a cancerous tumor was different, I suppose, though it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. You can’t get cancer from eating cancer because cancer is tailor-made for the person who has it. With the monster it must be different.
On the plus side, I quite liked the electronic music, composed by Susan Justin, and the use of the Blaster Beam instrument. I also thought the blood and guts effects were top notch, especially for such a low budget feature. The creature itself was…okay. Due to its resemblance to Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, though, it looks better suited for a horror-comedy film.