the dirty story about Roger Corman’s adaptation of ‘The Fantastic Four’ Opinions I Espinof

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the dirty story about Roger Corman's adaptation of 'The Fantastic Four' Opinions I Espinof

I suppose that in the minds of all fans of comics and their film adaptations, that magical moment in which they discover that, in the mid-90s, the first family had starred in a movie about ‘Fantastic Four’. You may also remember how we were sold that, as bad as it was, it never came out. Well, the documentary’Damned: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four‘ clarifies that nothing you believed was true.

The (dirty) game of Hollywood

Marty Langford makes a good part of the troop he made parade in front of the camera, with all the illusion and good intention possible, a very complicated adaptation. The director, Oley Sassone, had barely a million dollars to shoot as quickly as possible the first film about the emblematic Marvelite first family.

The only condition they had on the table, apart from the beastly budget shortage, was to shoot faster than the wind. With the casting closed in December (and where names like Mark Ruffalo paraded), just a couple of weeks later they began filming. Roger Corman’s ‘Fantastic Four’ may have gone down in history as the movie marvel doesn’t want you to seebut not in the sense that you might first imagine.

Actually, this version was never seen in theaters because it was only filmed to avoid losing the rights for the big screen by the producers. Stan Lee is one of the big “losers” of this documentary, since according to the participants he showed a great attitude on the set while behind him he shouted with a microphone in hand that there would never ever be a Marvel movie again without his control. And he also claimed that he didn’t expect much from a project that he constantly belittled.

Saxon Oley with the thing

Paradoxically, although the final result suffers from the lack of media, the spirit and heart of this adaptation were closer to the original material than the rest of the millionaire versions that would be to come in 2005, 2007 and 2015 respectively. The first two produced by Avi Arad, another of the great “villains” of the show and producer of some of the biggest clunkers in the history of comics-based cinema.

And it is that this small and humble documentary (which did not have the collaboration of Stan Lee or Avi Arad) is almost a reward for effort and dedication of a team that made many mistakes, but also contributed great ideas and details. Without going any further, the brothers David and Eric Wurst, composers of a score dream orchestra paid out of pocket. Or the incredible facial prosthesis of The Thing, much more spectacular than what we would see ten and twenty years later.

Condemn

Unfortunately, these fantastic they were never prepared to compete with his rivals. Not even with those that didn’t work at all, like ‘The Shadow’, much less if we compare it with another film of its year, the now classic ‘The Mask’. Both titles seem to be light years away from Sassone’s film, whose innocence and manners almost automatically make it a series b… from the 50s.

But the movie is never obnoxious and it’s still quite endearing despite such old-fashioned ways that make ‘The Phantom’ seem more modern than ‘The Matrix’. ‘Fantastic Four’ feels made by a team that, despite misery, tried very bravely to justify their work and effort. And that is the recognition of the documentary: thanking the effort and realizing that Hollywood never plays fair.

Fantastic Four 1994

Waiting for these four eternal characters to find their place in the film studios of the publishing house that saw them born (or Walt Disney, actually), it is not bad to render an account through a documentary that, in some way, puts the three subsequent films in their place about the characters: they seem made with the same rush, pressure and maybe more casting errors.

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