BlokeBusting The Essentials #93: The Fantastic Four (1994)
#93: The Fantastic Four
The Not-So-Invisible Movie
Ok. Well. Right. Erm…
So this film exists. That’s a thing that happened. I’ll admit that I first heard about this film maybe 10 years ago and I had never once actually considered watching it. I went into this viewing totally blind (outside of my general knowledge of the characters and setting from other sources) and I think I made the right call. So, let’s dive right in.
Given that the only versions of this film floating around are YouTube or DailyMotion uploads of prints from 1994 that were ordered to be destroyed, I think we can forgive the VERY shoddy quality of the video. The odd thing is that the film feels like a TV movie. And that can work well for some films. But I’m not sure about this one. The plot is also very, very weird. I’m not even sure what the secondary antagonist was supposed to be. It looked like a down-on-his-luck Mad Eye Moody who just decided to usurp Fagin, which is just bizarre. In fact, let’s get into the characters now.
- Dr Doom – Joseph Culp
I think this character must be difficult to play at the best of times. He’s almost 100% stuck behind a solid metal mask and armour. He’s evil but does have a reason for the way he acts that make sense to his character. The problem is that any faithful adaptation will have him look like a Power Rangers villain of the week (well, maybe occurring every few months). And watching this in the quality available really doesn’t help. I’m still not actually sure if I simply missed the point where they showed him committing to his new evil ways or if they just ran with it. Doom by name, doomed by nature.
- The Fantastic Four – Alex Hyde-White (Reed Richards), Jay Underwood (Johnny Storm), Rebecca Staab (Sue Storm) & Michael Bailey Smith/Carl Ciarfalio (Ben Grimm/The Thing respectively)
I’ve lumped these guys together here because, sadly, they aren’t written well enough to justify separate entries here. Reed is dull, Johnny has a few “eh” moments, Susan is even blander than you’d expect given the time the film came out and what the writers would have been able to do with her character. Ben is kinda ok, but his powers just kinda vanish at one point for NO REASON. None. He’s just not The Thing for 10 minutes. Anyway, you have now learnt as much as I have from watching the entire film. They are bland, they get powers, they’re still bland.
- The Jeweler – Ian Trigger
This guy. He’s just weird. Seriously weird. As in who the hell thought he was a good idea? Even knowing that the film might never get released, NOBODY said anything? I’ll leave the choice up to you to check this guy out. But he’s honestly one of the oddest characters I’ve seen in any film.
The Sad Part
This film honestly could have been something fun. The writers did at least try to stay close to the origin of the characters and they did go the whole hog to get the look of the costumes right (even if it was only in the last 15 minutes). But it’s obvious from the look of the film and the horrible acting that this really was only made for logistical and legal reasons. The Special Effects were also laughable. Even for the time, it’s actually horrible to look at. The 1987 TV show Knightmare (Seriously, look this one up. It was fun and VERY hard to win) had better graphics, which tells you everything you might need to know about budgeting for them. Had this film been held off for another decade (surplanting the one that we’ll cover at another time), maybe it could have been done right, with more options for the plot, effects and acting. But for now, we can only look to Bubba for his take on this forgotten relic!
I’ve seen this movie a couple different times and I have mixed feelings about it. Of course, it’s a pretty bad movie, but the more I watch it the more fun I have with it, especially this time after having watched Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four. It’s silly, but the Fantastic Four in general are pretty silly. The Thing’s prosthetics are relatively simple but effective and the stretching effects are hilariously cheap. Some of the most enjoyable moments are Johnny Storm’s extreme overacting and Doctor Doom’s extremely theatrical performance. The absolute best moment is after Doom leaves the room so as not to “sully his hands” with the demise of the Four and lets his minions dispatch them. When Doom returns a few moments later to see the Four gone and a Thing shaped hole in the wall, he looks around for a few seconds and lets out the most hilariously unenthusiastic “huh” ever and it’s amazing. It’s just hilariously awful through and through.
As for its cinematic importance, this is one of the most well known, if not THE most well known unreleased films. This is part of the reason why more people know about movie rights and how Constantin films held on to the film rights of the Fantastic Four in near perpetuity as long as they started production on a film every 10 years. Don’t ask me why that’s a thing. This is the only film that Roger Corman ever produced and never released and he has literally produced well over a hundred films. And as I mentioned before, there was a documentary made recently all about this film and how it came to be and how it came not to be. It’s the first live action version of the Fantastic Four which is a pretty important Marvel property and it’s just a bizarre piece of cinematic history despite only existing in a bootleg version. Really, the story behind this film that was produced just so that Constantin Films could try again several years later is more fascinating than the film itself. Well worth inclusion in my list.
Well said Mr Wheat, as always. And, as always, we move on to THE questions:
- Would I recommend this film to others?
- Does it deserve to be on this list?
- If so, where would I put it?
For this one, I’ll keep it brief. I think you’ll have followed my logic by now, but you might be interested in my answers none-the-less.
1) Not really. For all the reasons I mentioned above, it’s not really worthy of watching unless you’re intrigued. In which case, go ahead! I might not recommend it but I’ll never try to stop you from watching it.
2) Actually, Yes. It’s bad, it’s cheesy as hell, it’s filled with odd decisions. It’s also the first Fantastic Four film ever made and that stands for something in my book. Plus, let’s be real, cheesy as hell and odd decisions are kinda par for the course in comics…
3) Well, let’s see. Obviously I didn’t enjoy the film much, but it is important. So how about:
- The Crow
- Dr Strange
- Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
- Batman: The Killing Joke
- Superman 3
- The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
- The Fantastic Four (1994)
- The Punisher
- Batman & Robin
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- BvS: Dawn Of Justice
Yeah, that feels right. It’s definitely more important than enjoyable, and that just pushes it above The Punisher for me. So, now that’s done I must take to the skies once more to fight for justice! Well, either that or work on scheduling my next film night. These things just don’t plan themselves…