At the risk of offending Jessica Alba fans the world over, I think most people will agree that the last two Fantastic Four films were pointlesss. Aside from Chris Evans’ fun performance as Johnny Storm, the movies didn’t exactly set the world on fire, pun intended. However, an earlier movie adaptation of the Fantastic Four apparently made Tim Story’s version look like Iron Man by comparison.
Never seen it? That’s because it was never released. There’s a detailed recap here, but we’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes: After sitting on the FF film rights for years, the German company Neue Constantin Film rushed the movie into production in the early ‘90s so it wouldn’t lose the option. So in 1992, producer Roger Corman (Sorority House Massacre II, Piranha) was enlisted to crank out a FF movie on the cheap. It appears that everyone took the job seriously, but there was a tiny problem: It was made specifically so that Constantin Film could keep the rights, shelve the movie and remake it at a later date with a proper budget. Several important people — the actors and the director — never got that bit of information. (Fun fact: Corman’s fellow producer on the film, Bernd Eichinger, later worked on the 2005 and 2007 FF movies.)
The 1994 movie has never been released on DVD, but several scenes, like the one above, are available on YouTube. It’s easy to snicker, but there’s something kinda charming and DIY about those clips, and I really feel for the players who were duped into thinking that it was destined for the big screen. (Besides, the Dr. Doom in this version doesn’t look any sillier than the dude in the 2005 “big budget” FF movie.) When you think of all the terrible big-budget movies that are released intentionally every year, it seems particularly cruel. I’d love to see the finished product, complete with commentary and some making-of footage. And no, I’m not joking.