Forbidden Worlds Film Festival 2023

Bristol’s biggest repertory genre film festival is returning for four days in May, this time celebrating some of cinema’s iconic creatures and their creators, as well as action legend Michelle Yeoh and a selection of genre classics inspired by the archives of Bristol’s beloved video shop 20th Century Flicks.

Ninety years ago, King Kong was unleashed upon screens around the world and changed cinema forever. This year, Forbidden Worlds Film Festival is celebrating the pioneering Creature Creators who transformed how we perceived ‘monsters’ through their stunning use of stop-motion animation and incredible puppetry work. 

As well as a special screening of the original King Kong, we invite audiences to come see the classic Harryhausen adventure The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), game-changing sci-fi actioner The Terminator (1984), terrifying childhood fable Return to Oz (1985), and much more on the biggest screen in the South West. Among the invited guests for these screenings will be members of The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, including Vanessa Harryhausen.

We will also be celebrating the career of action Legend Michelle Yeoh with three of her most iconic films – Royal Warriors (1986), Police Story 3: Supercop (1992) and The Heroic Trio (1993). As always, we will be also be screening a host of cult and classic genre films From the Video Shop Archives of Bristol institution 20th Century Flicks, including a brand-new restoration of The Way of the Dragon (1972) to honour the 50th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s passing, the vertigo-inducing blockbuster Cliffhanger (1993), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and the Euro-slasher Amsterdamned (1988) that sees terror coming to the canals of the Dutch capital.

This year’s line-up includes four UK restoration premieres, four special anniversary screenings and, in true video shop style, seven titles are under ninety minutes long!



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Thursday, 18 May 2023

6:00pm – 8:45pm THE TERMINATOR (1984) + The Creatures of Stan Winston

Experience Stan Winston’s stunning model and FX work in the James Cameron sci-fi classic that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star!

From a war-torn 2029, where the remains of humanity are battling a robotic enemy bent on their annihilation, two soldiers are sent back in time to 1984. One is a cyborg assassin assigned to kill Sarah Connor, an unsuspecting young woman whose unborn child will lead the battle against the robots. The other is a human resistance fighter dedicated to saving her life and the future of mankind.

The screening will be introduced by film writer Ian Nathan, a former editor and executive editor of Empire magazine, and the author of numerous books including James Cameron: A Retrospective, Terminator Vault: The Complete Story Behind the Making of ‘The Terminator’ and ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ and Alien Vault: The Definitive Story Behind the Film, who'll be discussing Stan Winston's iconic creature designs.

Bristol Aquarium
9:00pm – 10:45pm PUMPKINHEAD (1988)

An ancient demon is resurrected to unleash vengeance in this cult horror classic!

When a group of teenagers accidentally kill his only son, Ed Harley (genre-cinema legend Lance Henriksen) calls upon a backwoods witch to save his child. Instead, he invokes a monstrously clawed demon, known as Pumpkinhead, which answers only to Ed's bloodlust and his need for vengeance.

Bristol Aquarium

Friday, 19 May 2023

12:00pm – 1:40pm PREY (1977)

A shapeshifting alien and a lesbian couple in an isolated English farmhouse – the perfect recipe for sex and violence.

An extra-terrestrial with the ability to change its form lands in rural England on a fact-finding mission and discovers a house owned by a lesbian couple. Unaware of their guest’s origins, the two women become involved in a claustrophobic psychological drama of sex and violence.

Bristol Aquarium
2:00pm – 3:40pm ROYAL WARRIORS (1986)

Michelle Yeoh must battle a team of rogue Vietnam veterans in this classic Hong Kong ‘girls and guns’ actioner.

When CID officer Yip (Yeoh), a Japanese Interpol agent (Hiroyuki Sanada), and a security guard (Michael Wong) foil an airplane hijacking, they find themselves targeted by a gang of Vietnam veterans who are out for vengeance. It’s not just personal… it’s also about to get explosive.

Bristol Aquarium
4:00pm – 5:45pm GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (1990)

Rick Baker’s iconic creatures return in this fourth-wall-breaking satirical horror comedy!

After his home is destroyed, Gizmo finds himself in an ultra-modern skyscraper run by a egotistical media mogul. It isn’t long before Gremlins are running amok and only Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan), his bride-to-be Kate (Phoebe Cates), B-movie legend Dick Miller, and a host of bizarre cameos can stop them!

Bristol Aquarium
7:00pm – 8:30pm THE WAY OF THE DRAGON (1972)

We celebrate the life of Bruce Lee with a new restoration of the only film written, produced and directed by the great martial artist!

After becoming a box-office titan in Hong Kong with back-to-back hits The Big Boss and Fist of Fury, Bruce Lee was given the chance to write, produce, and direct his third film. Taking the production to Rome, Lee plays a martial artist who travels to the Italian capital to help his cousin, whose restaurant is being threatened by a gang of thugs. Cue furious fists, nunchuck-swinging action and one of the iconic cinematic fights of all time as Lee faces off against Chuck Norris in an epic gladiatorial death match in the Roman Colosseum.

Bristol Aquarium
9:00pm – 10:30pm DOLLS (1987)

From the director of cult classic Re-Animator (1985) comes a horror comedy featuring diminutive toys of terror!

In this eighties cult favourite, a precocious girl, her nasty parents, two punk-rock groupies, and a nervous salesman find themselves the guests of two ghoulish senior toymakers in their dark, haunted mansion. The old couple make and collect dolls that seem to have a life of their own, particularly at night…

Bristol Aquarium

Saturday, 20 May 2023

10:30am – 12:30pm RETURN TO OZ (1985)

The most terrifying Disney film ever made… and, yes, we’re includingThe Black Cauldron.

What do you picture when you think of a sequel to the classic Hollywood musical The Wizard of Oz? That loveable Aunt Em and Uncle Henry would decide young Dorothy was delusional and have her taken to a sanatorium where she would be administered electro-therapy? Well, that’s the starting point for this dark Disney fantasy, one of the strangest children’s films ever to be produced by a major studio.

Bristol Aquarium
1:00pm – 3:30pm KING KONG (1933) + King Kong at 90: The legacy of Willis O’Brien

Behold the Eighth Wonder of the World as The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation joins us to celebrate the founding father of stop-motion animation – Willis O’Brien!

Director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) leads a film crew to the remote, uncharted Skull Island  in search of the legendary Kong, a gigantic ape. After the island’s natives attempt to sacrifice actress Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) to Kong, Denham and his crew pursue the beast through the dinosaur-infested jungle. Ann is rescued and Kong is captured, and the stage is set for a clash of civilisations.

Bristol Aquarium
4:00pm – 5:30pm THE HEROIC TRIO (1993)

Hong Kong leading ladies Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Anita Mui assemble for this super-powered slice of comic-book craziness!

A mysterious force is kidnapping newborn babies for nefarious purposes and the police are powerless to stop it! Only three heroic women who share a terrible past can possibly stop the machinations of the Evil Master and his plans: the mask-wearing, knife-throwing crime fighter, Wonder Woman (Anita Mui), shotgun-wielding bounty hunter with a heart of gold Thief Catcher (Maggie Cheung), and the principled Invisible Woman (Michelle Yeoh), whose loyalties are about to be put to the test…

Bristol Aquarium
6:30pm – 8:30pm CLIFFHANGER (1993)

Hang on for dear life with a 30th anniversary screening of Stallone’s action classic.

Stallone plays Gabe Walker, a retired mountain ranger, who must face his personal demons head on when terrorists crash-land in the middle of a national park. Kidnapping his fellow ranger and former best friend, Tucker (Michael Rooker), Gabe must play a deadly game of cat and mouse with the terrorists, led by the sadistic Qualen (John Lithgow) as seek to find the $100 million dollars that they lost in the crash and is spread across the mountain range’s snow-capped peaks.

Bristol Aquarium
9:00pm – 10:45pm AMSTERDAMNED (1988)

A serial killer is stalking the citizens of Amsterdam via the city’s famous canals… and only a grizzled detective can stop him!

From the murky depths of Amsterdam’s famous canals, a predator is on the hunt. Surfacing at night, he is killing people seemingly at random and disappearing without a trace. With panic gripping the city, Detective Visser is assigned to stop the killer before he strikes again… But could someone close to him be the killer’s next victim?

Bristol Aquarium

Sunday, 21 May 2023

11:00am – 1:00pm THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958) + A celebration of Ray Harryhausen

For the 65th anniversary of this classic action adventure, The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation joins us to celebrate Ray Harryhausen and his iconic cinematic creations.

In this stunning 4K restoration of the adventure classic, join legendary hero Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) as he battles some of mythology’s most fearsome creatures including a dragon, the enormous Roc and the terrifying Cyclops! After the scheming sorcerer Sokurah (Torin Thatcher) shrinks Sinbad’s fiancee, Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant), to the size of a thumb, he must journey to a mysterious island to retrieve a magical lamp…

Bristol Aquarium
1:00pm – 2:50pm INVADERS FROM MARS (1953)

Dare you come to the UK premiere of the new 4K restoration of this sci-fi classic that once you see it will haunt your dreams forever?!

When young David McLean sees a spaceship crash during the night, he can’t believe his eyes… nor the fact that his family and neighbours have begun to act strangely. Determined to stop the invaders, David teams up with astronomer Stuart Kelston (Arthur Franz) and Dr. Pat Blake (Helena Carter), and the trio must fight together to repel the insidious intruders.

Bristol Aquarium
3:15pm – 4:45pm POLICE STORY 3: SUPERCOP (1992)

Michelle Yeoh teams up with Jackie Chan for some of the most dangerous stunts ever performed on camera!

After Hong Kong ‘supercop’ Chan Ka-Kui (Chan) is assigned to take down an international drug ring, he teams up with Chinese Inspector Yang Chien-Hua (Yeoh) in order to infiltrate the cartel. Together, the two officers must put aside their differences and work together to take down one of Asia’s most ruthless crime families.

Bristol Aquarium
6:00pm – 7:30pm ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976)

A brand-new 4K restoration of John Carpenter's explosive cult classic!

Police officers and convicts find themselves as unlikely allies after they must join forces inside a soon-to-be-closed L.A. police station. The reason? They must defend themselves against Street Thunder, a vicious gang who have taken a blood oath to kill someone trapped inside the precinct.

Bristol Aquarium
8:00pm – 10:15pm STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997)

It’s time for intergalactic war, blood, guys and carnage in Paul Verhoeven’s classic satire on authoritarianism.

Set in a fascist future where young people must do military service to qualify as citizens, own property or even have babies, a bunch of idealistic teenagers (Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Neil Patrick Harris, Dina Myers) all sign up for military service to battle evil arachnids. However, as the war rages, they soon discover that their enemies aren’t the mindless creatures they’d been taught about.

Bristol Aquarium