In Honor of New Fantastic Four, Enjoy Roger Corman's Forgotten '90s Masterpiece


You know, Marvel wasn't always such a coveted, multi-billion-dollar Hollywood property. It wasn't so long ago that getting a live-action Fantastic Four adaptation -- let alone a whole franchise reboot -- made by a studio was like pulling teeth, and the pre-Fox rights-holders had to resort to the most desperate of measures to ensure their opportunity did not go to waste. After the jump, relive the D-grade agony and ecstasy of the as-yet-unreleased 1994 adaptation spearheaded by schlockmeister Roger Corman, along with a bit of historical background from Movieline's resident Cold Case expert Michael Adams.

Mr. Adams, whose book about hunting down the worst film ever made will be published next January by HarperCollins, cites the original Four as one of the highlights of his quest. "This has Reed, Ben, Sue and Johnny in cheap costumes aboard a spaceship that crashes thanks to solar storm Colossus," Adams writes in an excerpt sent to Movieline, "turning them into the FF -- or as fantastic as four people can be on such an ultra-low budget."

He continues:

Fantastic Four is like Saturday morning TV, rather than actually atrocious. [...] In 1992, production company Constantin Film was going to lose its option on the property unless the film went into production in December. The script was budgeted at $40m. They took it to producer Roger Corman, who got it done for $1.98m in just four weeks. In late 1993 it was revealed the film had never been intended for release but was merely made to fulfill contractual terms. It's hard not to feel sorry for the cast who'd spent months talking the movie up to fans.

Indeed, the trailer below offers the only publicly available glimpse of effects Adams characterizes as "laughable, deliberately and otherwise": "Reed's elasticity, achieved through forced perspective, zooms and elongated sleeves and trouser legs is unintentionally side-splitting. [...] The performances, meanwhile, reach the level of TV soap. Put it this way: I'll never complain about Jessica Alba again."

Ah, the good old days. Akiva Goldsman, meanwhile, is still on the hook for the reboot. Let's just get this released and call it even, shall we?