As a fan of film, I love exploring behind the scenes. Reading about the production process, the special effects and the stories of what could have been.
The Fantastic Four (1994)
This edition of WCHB is a little different as it concerns a film that does exist, fully completed but was never meant to be seen.
The story starts back in 1992 where a company called Constantin Film were about to lose the rights to make a Fantastic Four film if they didn’t start production by December of that year. As they didn’t have the $40 million required for a blockbuster version, the producer turned to Roger Corman for help. For those of you who don’t know Roger Corman is a well-known producer who can make very low budget films.
The production company allowed the producer to effectively lie to the director, cast and crew informing them that this was a proper theatrical release. The producer also stated that if the film failed at the box office, it would be used as a pilot for a television series. Everyone agreed to take on lower wages based on this information.
Filming lasted just one month and the cast gave press interviews still believing what they had produced was a genuine film. The film studio even gave an official release date of 1994 before announcing later that it was never to be seen.
The film was shelved but somehow it found its way out into the public. It all started many years ago being traded on VHS cassettes at comic conventions. Here in the present day, I found the full film on YouTube.
Imagine a film that’s so bad but yet everyone who’s in it believes their doing a good job. The plot is an origin story but it’s so poor. There are moments that make no sense whatsoever. One scene concerns the Thing. After seeing his true love kidnapped (even though they’ve only met for thirty seconds literally!), he turns back into his human Ben Grimm form. I couldn’t fathom why this happened and no-one in the film mentions it. There is no explanation as to why and it doesn’t happen again. Ben runs outside, screams and then becomes the Thing once again. Weird!
A quick mention has to go for the awful dialogue. It’s so bad at times it’s simply brilliant. My favourite line was, “Be careful, I’m in shock. I can’t feel pain!”
Doctor Doom is faithfully recreated from the comics but his costume makes so much noise it’s hard to hear what is actually being said! You may remember that Doctor Doom is dressed in a green cloak over his metal armour.
The fantastic Four also dress like the original comic versions with their light blue skin tight costumes with the big four symbol on them. In the comics this looked fine but in a live action film they just look ridiculous.
When the fighting does begin, Doctor Dooms’ henchmen appear all fetchingly dressed in green tunics carrying machine guns. The green is to let you know they work for Doom of course! But the fights with the Fantastic Four are so bad it’s like a 1960’s Batman version of a fight but without the camp value. Rather than fight properly, the Fantastic Four resort to just tripping them up or tricking them into running into each other!
I must give praise for the costume built for the Thing. Like Doctor Doom it is faithful to the comics. The animatronic work for the head of the costume was really good for a film on such a low budget from the mid-nineties. The face and mouth articulation is quite impressive. It reminded me very much of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as built by the Jim Henson Workshop.
In the end the film served its purpose and the film rights were retained. Everyone at Marvel with the exception of Stan Lee deny it even exists and you can be sure it will never see the light of day on an official DVD.
What Could Have Been… is a series first created by John (@UKFilmNerd) on the original version of theunheardnerd.com. We will be re-running the series in a weekly format, but if you can’t wait for the next instalment you can check it out now. [What Could Have Been… #1-12]