Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The 1980 cult classic Forbidden Zone tells the story of an LA family that ventures into a 6th dimensional kingdom ruled by Herve Villechaize and former Warhol superstar Susan Tyrrell. There are lots of bizarro, unforgettable musical numbers sprinkled throughout the film, but my favorite has always been this little showstopper - a goofy fantasia of cardboard props and dancing businessmen lip-syncing Felix Figueroa's 1947 novelty tune.
The song makes one of LA's most unremarkable intersections sound genuinely exciting and exotic, like the place to be. But then, just as we're transported by visions of palm trees and blond starlets in convertibles, the song hits us with a melancholy truth: "Pico and Sepulveda... Where nobody's dreams come true."
In this clip, director Richard Elfman (Danny's brother) perfectly captures the song's bittersweet quality, building up to this elaborate production number that abruptly ends with everybody trudging off to work in a big factory belching clouds of toxic, cartoon smoke.
I can't help but think of this sequence every time I drive through the intersection at Pico and Sepulveda. Just for a moment I'll hear those pounding conga drums, and the blasting horns... And then I look through the window of the corner donut shop, see the girl slouching behind the counter, and wonder if her dreams will ever come true.
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