"The Fantastic Four" (1994)
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: zero (out of 5 stars)
Alex Hyde-White as MR. FANTASTIC/PROF. REED RICHARDS
Jay Underwood as HUMAN TORCH/JOHNNY STORM
Rebecca Staab as INVISIBLE GIRL/SUE STORM
Michael Bailey Smith as THE THING/BEN GRIMM
Joseph Culp as DR. DOOM/VICTOR VON DOOM
Studio: New Horizons
Directed by: Oley Sassone
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In case you donít know the story of the ďoriginalĒ Fantastic Four movie, hereís a brief run-down... A production company held an option to make a movie of the Fantastic Four. If they didnít deliver a movie with a significant budget and an industry name behind it, they lost their option. The solution: give Roger Corman a million bucks and wait for a movie... any movie.
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The result is a cinematic abortion that was shelved immediately after completion. The company never had any intention of releasing it (unbeknownst to most of the cast and crew); it was just a million dollar investment to secure an option.
Thanks to the wonder of the Internet and a little web site called eBay, you can find bootlegged versions of this film floating around. These ďrare international importsĒ can be had for about the price of a used DVD. Granted, they have the video transfer quality of a back-yard amateur porno flick, but itís gonna be your only chance to see the film, which is rumored to be the number two most sought-after bootleg just behind the ďStar Wars Holiday Special.Ē
Just glancing at the cover box will solidify your fears. It is the worst pose for each of the characters. Reed Richards looks gay. Susan Storm looks frigid. Johnny Storm looks like he just got invited to the Neverland Ranch for the weekend. And the Thing looks like a big, fat booger.
Watching the film gives little more hope. To be honest, it would have been great fodder for MST-3K. If youíre gonna check it out, spring for a case of beer and watch it with your buddies. At least youíll get a good laugh.
Not being an expert on the Fantastic Four, I donít know how much of the mythology is ravaged in this version. The basics are there, however. The characters are roughly what Iíve seen in the old cartoons. The main villain is Doctor Doom, who introduces himself as such but it still takes several minutes for Reed Richards to figure out heís the same guy as his old school chum Victor Von Doom. Brilliant.
Like any lame superhero movie made more than a decade ago, there was a secondary villain who lives in the sewers (possibly a reject from the Penguinís gang in ďBatman ReturnsĒ). Even after watching the film, Iím hard pressed to say what his purpose really is. For some reason, he kidnaps the Thingís blind girlfriend to make her the queen of the sewers. (Hey, donít blame me. I didnít write the script.)
To be fair, this really isnít as bad as you might think. The costume for The Thing actually ainít bad, considering it was produced on Roger Cormanís watch. You canít tell from the cover photo, but the girl who plays Sue Storm is pretty cute. Sure, Reed Richards is still a dork, but not as much as you might think from the photo.
This film holds some classic moments of crappy low-budget filmmaking. In one scene, we have the POV shot from a blind girl. The actor in the Doctor Doom mask delivers his muffled lines through the mask. Sure, it may have cost an extra couple thousand to loop those lines and modulate the voice. Why splurge on this extravagance? This is Roger Corman, after all.
Probably the height of silliness in this movie comes at the end when Reed Richards marries Sue Storm. While Sue is given her day in the sun and allowed to wear her wedding dress, Reed shows up in his Fantastic Four costume. I guess the rental shop was out of tuxes that day.
As expected, the special effects are laughable. The fantastic powers of the heroes are achieved with ancient visual trickery that any geek in his attic can recreate on a home computer. The costumes are ridiculous. While the Thing is almost decent, the regular outfits look like a cheap Power Rangers Halloween costume you might pick up at the local Wal-Mart.
ďThe Fantastic FourĒ is a must see for any lover of bad movies. Itís that awful.