Friday, September 09, 2011

The Fantastic Four, directed by Roger "One Shot" Corman

The 1994 film version of The Fantastic Four has never been released, probably by design. The producer, Constantin Film, was in jeopardy of losing the rights to the comic book franchise unless it exercised its option and made a movie.

It wasn't prepared to mount a blockbuster, so instead it brought in producer Roger Corman, who cranked out a film for around $1.5 million.

The low-budget nature of the project is clear from the first frame: Special effects are not special, and the Thing looks more like a pineapple than a monster with rocklike skin. And then there's Mister Fantastic's elastic limbs. "It was little more than a mannequin arm with a piston attached to it," says Alex Hyde-White, who portrayed the character.

Heartbreakingly, none of the actors knew that the film was only meant to fulfill a contractual obligation. "I thought it could help me break through as a dramatic action star," Hyde-White says. Jay Underwood, who played the Human Torch, remembers that the picture generated some buzz during production. "Magazines were already wanting interviews," he says wistfully. He's now a pastor at a Baptist church in Northern California.

The movie has become a
Plan 9 From Outer Space for comic book geeks, and bootlegs are often screened at conventions. Meanwhile, Constantin Film held on to the rights, and its big-budget 2005 Fantastic Four film grossed $330 million.


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