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Fantastic Four - The 1994 Roger Corman Unreleased Live-Action Feature Film!
by: -RoG-

I'll be honest with ya... I never cared much for the Fantastic Four. Something about the characters just never interested me that much. It seemed like for every character, there was a far better counterpart in some other comic book series. I'll take Plastic Man over Mr. Fantastic any day. I'll take Wonder Woman (and her invisible jet) over the Invisible Woman in a heartbeat. I'll take the Incredible Hulk over The Thing without thinking twice about it. And last but not least, I'll take Ghost Rider over the Human Torch, not just because Ghost Rider is more interesting, but because I really hate the Human Torch.

Still, with the new "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" movie coming out, I thought now would be a good time to look at the ORIGINAL Fantastic Four movie. No, I'm not talking about that boring piece of shit from 2005, I'm talking about the one from 1994 by the legendary b-movie master, Roger "Death Race 2000" Corman! This movie was never officially released in theaters or on DVD and only had a budget of roughly 1.5 million dollars. Word is, the studio would have lost the movie rights to the Fantastic Four if they didn't begin filming something soon, so they went ahead and gave Roger the reigns to make this one.

As corny as this movie may be, I still find it far more entertaining than the 2005 big budget version of the Fantastic Four. The countless flaws of the movie provide plenty o' laughs and, If nothing else, at least Dr. Doom looked right. So with that in mind, I think it's high time I help give some more exposure to this forgotten film.

First off, a lot of people wonder why things went so wrong with the experiments that the Reed and Victor were conducting. Could Victor's accident have been prevented? I say yes. All you need to do is look at who their professor was - George Gaynes, or Commandant Eric Lassard from the Police Academy series as most people know him! You can't have that guy teaching a bunch of students about astro-physics and not expect something to go horribly wrong. The guy can barely keep his goldfish out of harm's way for chrissakes!

Anyway, Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom decide they're going to harvest the energy of Colossus - a radioactive comet-like energy source that just so happens to be traveling close to Earth tonight. Ben Grimm is also introduced briefly as he plays a video game that looks like a bad cartoony rip-off of Missile Command. Or perhaps the game is supposed to be some foreshadowing that Colossus is going to rain down some pain on them soon. Who knows, and more importantly... who cares?

So back at the lab, Reed and Victor go over their notes and calculations in preparation for the arrival of Colossus. Reed, as always, wants to be extra careful and do more tests, but Victor pushes him to go forward with their plans because Colossus has already arrived. So, with a display of some low budget early CGI effects, they start harvesting the energy, but something goes wrong and the machine crystals overheat. Reed shouts at Victor, telling him to get out of there, but he refuses to leave as he shouts "I will not fail! I will not fail!" Well guess what, Vic? You failed. The electricity bursts out from the machine and pins Victor up against the wall... shocking and burning the crap out of him. But hey, when your last name is "Doom" you should probably avoid playing with electricity anyway. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Now here's where it gets a little weird. Two guys had apparently been keeping an eye on ol' Victor for a while - spying on him at the university 'n everything. They somehow knew that Victor would one day become Doctor Doom and were all too eager to become his right-hand guys. So, they impersonate medical doctors at the hospital and tell Reed that the burns were too severe and then cart Victor away, knowing full well that he's really still alive.

How do they know and accomplish all of this? Why do they want to become his servants? None of that is even explained, so I guess you'll have to go back and read the comic books and hope that the mystery is unveiled. I'm guessing it's not, but anything's possible I suppose. I should also note that the main henchman has a really bad Transylvanian-like accent and I expected him to fly away like a bat before the movie ended. Sadly, this never happened.

Cut to ten years later, and Reed and Ben show up at Johnny and Sue Storm's house to invite them to go on a mission to outer space! Reed and Sue clearly have a history together. You know this because the music gets real quiet with some faint piano in the background, the two stare into each other's eyes and have one of those deep daytime drama show moments where they say to each other: "Hello Reed." (long pause) "Hello Susan." It's a very touching moment that I'll never forget as long as I live.

Wait, what was I just talking about?

Anyway, unfortunately for Reed, he has let his work get in the way of what could've been... well, a lukewarm romance at best. Still, a lukewarm romance would most likely be an extremely welcome occurrence in the life of your average astro-physicist. Nerds!

Sue and Johnny's mom stops them all before they leave and says, "Look at you! The Fantastic Four!" And that, my friends,  is how they got their name... from mom. Aww.

Note: In case you're wondering, yes, Johnny Storm is played by Jay Underwood from the classic 80's movie "The Boy Who Could Fly" and the "Not Quite Human" TV movies. I still remember the best thing about the first film being Fred Savage and his mission to make it around the block on his Big Wheel before the bullies could stop him. Way to go Fred, you made it! But I digress...

Meanwhile, back in a very dark place, we get the first shadowy glimpse of Doctor Doom as those same two henchmen are now reporting back to him. They tell Doom about a precious diamond cluster that's being shipped to Reed Richards and company. What's funny is that since he's speaking through a mask, Doom's voice is actually extremely muffled throughout most of the movie. You'd think they would've recorded his voice separately and added some effects to it in post-production, but no... they just let the guy talk straight through the mask the entire time. Brilliant!

I should also note that Doom really likes his metal fingers and the clickety-clankity sounds they make whenever he moves them. He's always tapping them whenever he goes. Damnit Doom, keep your hands to yourself.

Reed receives his diamond cluster which will enable him to harvest the energy of Colussus because they can displace the heat and give the prisms in the machine a chance to cool off instead of overheating and causing another mishap like the one from 10 years ago. Reed really wants to right the wrongs of the past and make Victor's supposed death not be in vain. Too bad for him that, in addition to Doctor Doom, some crusty old geezer named The Jeweler has his eye on the diamond cluster as well. You see, Ben Grimm accidentally runs into the blind sculptress, Alicia Masters, and she falls in love with him, but the Jeweler is in love with her and is determined to make her the queen of his lame underground homeless guy club. He figures that giving her the biggest cluster of diamonds on earth will win over her heart. After all, diamonds are a girl's best friend, right?

Back at home, Alicia sculpts a model of Ben Grimm's head based on her memories of touching his face... all this accompanied by the sweet sounds of flute music and god knows what she intends to do with that head afterwards. Frankly, whatever it was, I'm glad it was edited out of the film. After he's done spying on his female obsession, the Jeweler heads back to Reed's office to steal the diamond cluster. I gotta say, for an old geezer who looks kinda like Judge Alvin Valkenheiser from "Nothing But Trouble", this Jeweler fella can really move. He weaves his way through Reed's high-tech laser security alarm system almost effortlessly as if he was playing hopscotch.

He even has a replica cluster that he puts in their place so Reed won't even know the real diamonds were stolen until it's too late. Doctor Doom apparently has hidden cameras set up in Reed's office and is all to happy to see this taking place. Not only does Doom plan to take the diamonds from the Jeweler later on, but the Jeweler has just saved Doom from having to kill the Fantastic Four himself. Oh no, what ever will our heroes do?

Sure enough, they fly into outer space in a ship that honestly looks like a cheap kite or one of those plastic air-powered rocket ships that come with a pump that you stomp on so they jettison up into the air for a few moments of mild amusement. Yep, that right there is what those big movie budgets can afford you! Once in space, they initiate the procedure to harvest the energy of Colossus, but since the diamond cluster is fake, the ship quickly overheats. As the four of them are blasted with cosmic energy rays we are treated to a kaleidoscope of moving colors that surely used up at least 25% of the film's meager budget.

With a chorus of "ooohs" and "ahhhs", the colors race across the screen intermixed with the agonized faces of our four heroes. It's clearly one of those scenes that's only meant to entertain the same kinds of stoners who attend laser light shows and stare at them with complete awe. "Whoah! Duuuuude! Look at those lasers maaaaaan!" Then, Doctor Doom watches them from a surveillance camera that I assume he had floating around in space and says "Goodbye, Dr. Richards" as the ship explodes. Look, if you're gonna be an evil mastermind, you need to have a good supply of surveillance cameras not just all over the planet, but all over the galaxy.

He then celebrates with one of those ridiculously long maniacal laughing sequences that comic book characters are so notorious for. Even better, he does it while clanking his metal fingers high upon his throne which sits in between two flaming balls. Now I'm no interior design expert, but I believe he's trying to say he's the head cock around there. And this cock will fuck you up if you let him. Well, that's what I imagine he'd say at least.

After he's done with the laughter, we cut to the wreckage of the ship and the four who have miraculously made it back to earth. Obviously, they didn't have the budget to film their horrific crash, so they just showed the aftermath by scattering some junkyard metal scraps in an open field. Anyway, while the ship was obliterated, the four of them are virtually unscathed. That's right, now they all have super powers. Now they're really the Fantastic Four! After getting some dirt in his nose, Johnny Storm sneezes and ignites a nearby plant on fire. In a movie this cheesy, you'd expect Smokey the Bear to pop up from behind the bush and kick Johnny's ass. Unfortunately, it never happens.

Sue also slowly appears as partially visible. When she realizes this, she freaks out and can't control her legs for some reason and begins to fall backwards towards a giant shard of the wreckage. Reed reaches out for her and his arm stretches out to catch her just in the nick of time. But what about Ben Grimm? You know, The Thing? How come he hasn't made an appearance yet? Well, I guess it just takes long to grow boulders on top of your entire body than to make your skin turn to rubber.

WILL THE INVISIBLE WOMAN VANISH FROM THE FILM
IN HOPES OF SAVING HER ACTING CAREER?
WILL BEN GRIMM GET A REALLY DISAPPOINTING
SUPER-POWER LIKE "SPEED-KNITTING" INSTEAD?
CONTINUE TO PAGE 2 TO SEE! CLICK HERE!


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