Thursday, September 27, 2012

Take It Off, Take It All Off!: "The Forbidden" (1966)

This lecherous mondo film's narrator warns of the final taboos experienced by humanity. While the majority of the world is repulsed by cannibalism, rape, and hardcore pornography, a subculture exists that finds these three sins normal. Granted, none of these three situations occur in this film, but the producers know sixty-five minutes of breasts are bound to put some asses in the seats.

The narrator taunts the viewer, who is supposed to be both fascinated and repulsed by the shocking behavior on display. In Los Angeles, we watch a "real" sex attack film which turns out to be an ad for a martial arts school. We then jet to the desert Southwest, where the good folks who work construction for the various space age projects being built in 1966 are taken advantage of by a portable nightclub's strippers and hookers. Why not head to Paris? There, strippers are lushly lit and backed by a twelve piece orchestra...okay, maybe not the stripper shown in the film, but if the film's producers say so, it must be true!

Hello, Stockholm, where an artsy reenactment shows us how one woman deals with her ex-husband and his mistress. Here in the "CSI" age, watching this is less than shocking. Don't pause to take a breath, however, we're off to Brussels. Here, Paris strip acts are tried out in a city where Red China products are sold, porn is considered art, and nude models put on legitimate exhibitions. Today, this behavior is the norm in all fifty states.

The Geneva lesbian club is the highlight of the film. According to unnamed sociologists, the neutral Swiss have grown bored with their fence sitting, and the suicide and divorce rates are skyrocketing. So, some lesbians got together and formed a social club complete with same sex marriages, divorces, and initiation orgies. We head back to Los Angeles in time for a youth riot; damn 10pm curfew! Hell, no, we won't go (to bed)! The most interesting item here is the prominent United Airlines billboard advertising a Los Angeles to San Francisco flight for a wallet busting $13.50.

Know what London has? Virgin strippers, checked weekly. Never mind the sign in French in their dressing rooms, they are virgins and they are English (apparently). A nameless city on the East coast boasts a sex school, then we head back to France to witness another reenactment about the lengths a woman will go to to see a man, in a very unintentionally comedic segment. Finally, East Berlin has Nazi strippers but West Berlin makes capitalism and democracy sexy, and then the film just kind of ends.

The producers went a different route than a lot of shockumentary films have gone. Sex will always sell, and I would rather watch it over staged voodoo rituals and animal slaughter. I am sure most of the exotic locales in this film were visited (black and white stock footage and color skin shows don't blend well), but the way the film makers mold a clip of a stripper to fit a shocking story is downright commendable. Come on, the strippers never perform in front of an audience, yet applause is heard?

If you don't take it seriously, "The Forbidden" is a joyfully sleazy trip back to the mid-1960's. Just try not to remember that most of the beautiful nude women here are in their 60's and 70's today. Grandma, what did you do in '62?? (* * *) out of five stars.