Film Review: The Fantastic Four (1994)

Release Date: Officially unreleased, once screened on May 31st, 1994
Directed by: Oley Sassone
Written by: Craig J. Nevius, Kevin Rock
Based on: Fantastic Four by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Music by: David Wurst, Eric Wurst
Cast: Alex Hyde-White, Jay Underwood, Rebecca Staab, Michael Bailey Smith, Kat Green, Joseph Culp

Marvel, Constantin Film Production, New Horizons, 90 Minutes

Review:

“What kind of thing have I turned into?” – The Thing

I’ve seen clips of this for years, I enjoyed the documentary on it but never have I seen the movie in its entirety until now.

Man, is this bad. I mean, really f’n bad. Roger Corman, whose cheesiness and low budget mastery I have enjoyed for decades, really took things to an incredibly new low with this in 1994.

But then again, if you watch the documentary on this film, it was made to hold onto the trademark and wasn’t really intended for actual release.

This film was rushed. It was made half assed. But that was mainly due to the producers and not the actors and crew who weren’t clued in to the reality of this production and the intentions of the people pulling the strings.

On the positive side, this surprisingly feels closer to the spirit of the source material than the three big budget Fantastic Four movies that came after it. It takes a few liberties with the origin but isn’t as drastic of a change as the most modern reboot. And fuck, I loved Doctor Doom in this more than the other films because he literally looked like the comic book Doom I grew up with and was just as hammy but in a great way and not an unintentional, terrible way like the Julian McMahon and Toby Kebbell versions.

I also thought that the score was pretty decent for a no budget, mid-’90s superhero flick. If you remember the era, Marvel had nothing but a string of atrocious movies up to this point. Even their television shows before this were shit, excluding The Incredible Hulk, but that show wasn’t as close to the source material as it should have been, let’s be honest.

The thing is, had the producers cared, this could have been a better picture and maybe have done well on the VHS market. It certainly would’ve bombed in the theater but it had imagination and the story isn’t terrible.

Okay, the jewel thief midget character was terrible and I’m not sure why they didn’t just make him Mole Man, as there were a lot of similarities but this movie could have been fine tuned into something at least palatable. It’s like they just ran with the first draft of the script and maybe that’s exactly what they did, as they had to rush this the hell out.

This isn’t unwatchable, if you are a fan of terrible f’n movies or want to see something that is certainly worthy of being riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000 or RiffTrax. And honestly, I’d probably watch this again before touching any of the big budget Fantastic Four films.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: I guess 2005’s Fantastic Four and its sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and the second reboot, 2015’s Fantastic Four. However, all these movies are terrible.

Documentary Review: Contamination: A Convention Story (2012)

Release Date: August 10th, 2012 (Wizard World Chicago)
Directed by: Corey Logsdon
Music by: Kevin McLeod
Cast: Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Alex Hyde-White

State of Mind Productions, 61 Minutes

Review:

Watching this documentary made me realize something, all of these fandom/convention documentaries are pretty much all the same. There have been solid documentaries on the topic but now there are so many of them that they just all bleed together into one big amorphous blob in my brain.

Ones like this that are about one specific convention just don’t serve much of a purpose other than being an hour-plus advertisement to the convention itself and not a really effective advertisement at that.

The problem is, I don’t live near St. Louis and even though I like horror, it’s just not enough to get me to make a trip there for this one convention that doesn’t feel special in any way because all these documentaries do is show that they’re all pretty much the same.

Look, I’m not trying to shit on this documentary or this convention but these films aren’t effective when they’re a dime a dozen and are just random ass clips of talking heads talking about how rad this thing is. These films often times have a few small celebrities in them but they are mostly comprised of regular joes giving their two cents on their fandom. I’m into geek shit and I don’t care.

Now my critique is more about these types of films and not this one in particular but this is the one that broke me. I can’t watch these things anymore, unless there is more to it than just talking to people at a con.

These con specific docs are probably cool to people that frequent these specific cons that are featured but for everyone else, it’s like, “Oh, St. Louis has a horror convention with some people there. I’ll just see those same people when they come to that con an hour away from my house in six weeks.”

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: Other documentaries about various fandoms: Heroes Manufactured, Comic Book Independents, 24×36, Atari: Game Over, Way of the Puck, Nintendo Quest, VHS Massacre, Going Attractions, Vinylmania, Out of Print, Records Collecting Dust, Mai-Tais, Toques and Tikis and 24 Hour Comic.

 

Film Review: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Release Date: May 24th, 1989
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Jeffrey Boam, George Lucas, Menno Meykes
Music by: John Williams
Cast: Harrison Ford, Denholm Elliot, Alison Doody, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, Sean Connery, River Phoenix, Alexei Sayle, Alex Hyde-White

Lucasfilm Ltd., Paramount Pictures, 128 Minutes

Review:

“You lost today, kid. But that doesn’t mean you have to like it.” – Fedora

I remember the day that I saw this film in the theater upon its release. It kicked off the summer of ’89, which was a massive time for movies and still, hands down, one of the best summer blockbuster years of all-time between this, BatmanGhostbusters IILethal Weapon 2Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Licence to KillThe Karate Kid, Part IIIFriday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, The Abyss, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. That summer also gave us great non-blockbusters like Weekend at Bernie’sUncle BuckWhen Harry Met Sally…Sex, Lies & VideotapeDead Poets SocietyDo the Right ThingUHFTurner & Hooch and Parenthood. 1989 could actually be my favorite movie year ever but I’d say it’s tied with 1984.

With all that competition and with a lot to live up to following two previous Indiana Jones movies, The Last Crusade had a lot on its shoulders. Not to worry though, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were still on their A-game and this one had a real familiarity to it, after Temple of Doom was a stylistic and narrative change from the original movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Not only does Indy return but we get to see some familiar faces from Raiders. Denholm Elliot’s Marcus Brody returns and actually goes on the adventure this time. We also get to see John Rhys-Davies’ Sallah again and he is also more directly involved than he was in Raiders. The big cherry on top is the inclusion of the original James Bond, Sean Connery, who played Indy’s father. It is also worth mentioning that this started with a great sequence featuring a teenage Indiana, played by River Phoenix. The sequence was so good that it inspired a long-running television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

The film’s cast is rounded out by Julian Glover, who played an Imperial general in Empire Strikes Back, as well as a Bond villain opposite of Roger Moore in For Your Eyes Only. We also get a cameo by British comedian Alexei Sayle, who was one of the creative forces behind one of my favorite shows of the ’80s, The Young Ones. The female lead is played by Irish model Alison Doody, who probably had the least impact of any Indy girl but still held her own in a cast that boasted immense talent.

The other aspect of familiarity with this picture, other than the cast, is that Indy is pitted against the Nazis once again, in a race to find a Holy treasure that also features a big desert action sequence. However, the tank Indy faces off against, as well as the Nazi colonel, are much bigger threats than the Nazi convoy from that famous Raiders chase sequence.

With the first three Indiana Jones movies, it is hard to dislike anything. All three of them are perfection. While Temple of Doom is my favorite, The Last Crusade and Raiders of the Lost Ark are both amazing.

In fact, this is the best cinematic trilogy ever made and yes, I still consider these three films a trilogy even though a fourth one, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released after a nineteen year hiatus. That one was a step down in quality but it certainly wasn’t as big of a step down as Star Wars when it came back with the prequel films.

Indiana Jones is an incredible franchise and really, I love Indy more than I love Star Wars because the series had three consecutive pictures that were as good as a movies could ever be. Sure, you might want to argue that Citizen Kane or The Godfather or The Shawshank Redemption are better films. But were they this fun while being this damn good? Hell f’n no!

Documentary Review: Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s the Fantastic Four (2015)

Release Date: July 10th, 2015 (Comic-Con International: San Diego – premiere)
Directed by: Marty Langford
Music by: Davis Horgan

Uncork’d Entertainment, 85 Minutes

Review:

The Fantastic Four franchise has never really produced anything great from a cinematic standpoint. The mid 00s films were mediocre and the recent 2015 attempt was one of the worst comic book movies ever made. But there was also an attempt that predates all of those films: the 1994 Roger Corman produced Fantastic Four film.

The reason why most people don’t know about this film is because it was never officially released. In fact, the movie was made on a tiny budget and rushed, just so that the studio who owned the rights could still hold onto those rights. It was made cheaply and quickly and those behind it, felt they were horribly duped and that their efforts were wasted.

Since that time, the film has circulated in a bootleg form at comic book conventions and on the Internet. Many people have seen it now but it is still a strange enigma and despite its limitations, is considered to be the most accurate portrayal of the Fantastic Four comics.

This documentary tells the story about the film from the perspective of the filmmakers and actors involved. It is a pretty good film and the interviews are all satisfying and engaging. Everyone involved seemed to really love making the picture even if they had some reservations about certain aspects of it. Ultimately, they were all trying to do their best and saw the picture as a turning point in their careers. Unfortunately, the public never got to see it theatrically and it didn’t become the launching pad that many of the people involved in its development had hoped.

I’ve never seen the film but it has been on my radar for a long time and I’ll probably check it out now, much sooner than later. I actually like some of the people in the cast due to their work in other projects.

If you are one of the rare fans of this film, then the documentary will probably make you happy. It’s nice seeing most of these people still feeling a sense of accomplishment and showing enthusiasm, even if they were conned into a dead project that was never to be released.