We are all interested in bad movies, inexcusable cinema, and naked ladies carrying camping equipment, for that is the stuff we use to fill the empty spaces in our pants. You are interested in the unknown, the unexplored, and the uninteresting—that is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of some of the worst movies ever made. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable soul who survived a screening. I am that miserable soul. The bait-and-switch advertising, the craven motives of the film’s producers, the chicanery behind every frame—my friend, we cannot keep these a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. Remember, my friends: terrible movies such as these will affect you in the future!
Released in 1935, Forbidden Adventure began its life as Angkor, a silent documentary about Cambodia. Dwain Esper (wunderkind producer/director behind such opuses as Sex Madness and How To Undress For Your Husband) bought the rights to the footage, added a prologue in which the film is being shown to the “Los Angeles Adventurers’ Club”, and dropped in some awful narration to stitch it all together. He then hired quasi-director George M. Merrick to shoot some new scenes on a Hollywood back lot featuring naked “native” women. (Actually, there is some evidence that Esper never bought the rights to the picture—but that he and an associate merely stole it from a processing lab.) When the Production Code Office demanded cuts because of the film’s copious nudity, Esper sent them a revised version, which earned a Production Code Seal of Approval. Esper then released the uncensored version, which played for decades on the “States’ Rights/Roadshow/Ballyhoo” circuit, overseen by showman extraordinaire Dan Sonney.
According to the liner notes on the Something Weird DVD, the “native women” in the “recreated” footage were recruited from an infamous L.A. house of prostitution. (Apparently no one at the time could distinguish women of African descent from women of Cambodian descent, because racism.) A man in a very convincing gorilla suit shows up in the jungle sporadically to liven up the proceedings and ensure that the film could one day be exhibited with an alternate title (even though THERE ARE NO gorillas in Asia, which is where Cambodia actually IS, so why didn’t the filmmakers do their homework oh yeah because this movie is mostly about seeing boobs.)
This film does not deserve to be lumped in with other bad films; it deserves to be lumped together with sticky National Geographic magazines found in the woods and the torn-out lingerie pages of an old Sears & Roebuck catalogue.