Monday, January 3, 2011
bad/awesome flixxx review: The Fantastic Four (Roger Corman) (1994)
"What kind of a thing have I turned in to?"- Ben Grimm/The Thing
"Holy Freud, Batman. I think you're right."- Johnny Storm/Human Torch
Wow. I had always heard about this flick. I remember reading about it in Wizard magazine years ago. I remember when they pumped it like it was actually going to come out. A few months back, my ol buddy Raf dropped a copy into my hands. I did a little research and it turns out the film was never intended for release at all. The very same company and man that co-produced the Fantastic Four and its sequel in 1995 (Bernd Eichinger) and the company he worked for (Constantin Film) was about to lose the rights to produce the flick. They needed 40 million to make it. According to wikipedia, without the funding to make his project, they turned to veteran low budge indie producer Roger Corman to begin production on a film that would act as a franchise holder basically. The fucked up thing about that is, they never told the actors or anyone involved that they never planned on releasing it. The actors even went to Comic conventions signing autographs believing that this flick was actually coming out. Then they pulled the plug at the last minute shelving this one until they had enough bread (ten years later) to make a real "hollywood" flick. Heavy. So, A bunch of television actors, and THE BOY WHO COULD FLY as Johnny Storm!!! in Roger Corman's unreleased film, THE FANTASTIC FOUR!!!
I don't really consider this movie all that bad, considering the kind of movies I usually watch anyway. The story is already there, you already know the basic story if you are familiar at all with the comic, and I would assume those that would want to see a flick like this would be. However, the dialogue is horrible. That being said, Corman really only had a few weeks to put the script together, and then the filming only lasted a month in January of 93. That's not really that bad for the amount of time and the budget that they had. Actually is pretty goddamned amazing.
There were a few weird things though. The story is still the same deal. Reed Richards & Ben Grimm are in college with Victor. They don't tell us his last name, but everywhere says that his last name is Von Doom. I would have assumed that he adopted that after he became Dr. Doom. Otherwise, when he introduces himself as Doom to the Four, wouldn't they have realized who he was, instead of putting two and two together later in the movie? I'm not sure of the actual comic history here, just seemed strange to me. Ok, so there is this comet thing coming and everyone in town is going to see it. Nice cameo here by Commandant Lassard (from Police Academy) as the Professor! Reed and Ben stop by this house to see a little girl Sue and even littler boy Johhny. I don't really know why they went there. I guess just to introduce the characters.
Victor and Reed have a plan to harness the power of the comet, but Victor doesnt listen to Reed, and the thing starts to malfunction spraying lightning all over the room and burning Victor's face off. Ben knocks him out of the way hoping to save his life. Two weird henchmen take him away posing as doctors. No one ever explains why or where they came from, and how he ended up ruling over them later.
Ten years later, Reed and Ben are going to fly away to space with this super diamond. They need a crew, so instead of getting real astronauts, they inexplicably go get Sue and Johnny, their old friends. Somehow this is all cool with NASA or whoever is in charge. Doom makes his first appearance & sends his henchmen to steal the diamond, but he's too late and a sneaky little midget who at first I think is the Mole Man, steals the diamond first. Doom is like, fuck it. The Midget is the Jeweler. Whoever that is. Before they split to space, Ben knocks this blind chick Alicia Masterson over, and messes up her statue. She touches his face and falls in love. Immediately she begins sculpting a replica of his face. Creepy.
So they go to space and the fake diamond malfunctions and they crash and are ok. But they realize they have powers. Then they are kidnapped by Doom. They escape and then The thing is pissed cause he's a hideous monster, and the Jeweler kidnaps Alicia to be his queen. Doom is building a laser to blow up NYC. Although, instead of shooting the laser at NYC, he is shooting it into space, so that doesn't really make sense. Unless is was going to get reflected off of a satellite or something. Maybe they didn't have time to tell us that part. Or write it. Or consider it. But nonetheless, he goes to the Jeweler and gets the diamond so he can use the laser. The 4 reunite to fight him, and even though they JUST BARELY DECIDED TO BECOME THE FANTASTIC FOUR, somehow, the Baxter Building (their headquarters) ALREADY has a huge 4 symbol on top of the building. Then they fight the doomtroops, then Reed goes after Doom, ultimately letting him fall to his demise (supposedly). Johnny becomes the Human Torch (it looks like first generation CGI or maybe even just regular animation) and saves NYC. I guess the Jeweler got away. Next, with NO EXPLANATION WHATSOEVER we cut to a scene of Reed and Sue getting married. End movie. The special effects are ridiculous. Especially the parts with Reed's arms and legs stretching. The fact that Reed knew Sue when she was a super young little girl is kind of creepy too. If he was only 10 years her senior, that's one thing, but it seemed a bigger gap in their age in the beginning. All in all, its not that bad, for a totally thrown together movie with no budget at all that was filmed in a month. But it is bad. Perfect actually.
***UPDATE!!!*** after being goaded into going back to watch a specific scene (and it looks like someone caught it in the comments too) during my first watch, I failed to notice another, maybe THE MOST ridiculous moment in the movie. There's a POV shot when the morlocks are kidnapping Alicia for the Jeweler. Normally this wouldn't be weird at all, except that Alicia Masters was fucking blind!! HA! wow! incredible. Hope you all enjoyed this. From the many suggestions, Ill probably be reviewing the 1990 CAPTAIN AMERICA soon, if I can come across a copy. Thanx for the feedback yall!!