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The Fantastic Four

USA/Germany 1994
produced by
Steve Rabiner, Roger Corman (executive), Bernd Eichinger (executive) for New Horizon, Constantin Film
directed by Oley Sassone
starring Alex Hyde-White, Jay Underwood, Rebecca Staab, Michael Bailey Smith, Ian Trigger, Joseph Culp, George Gaynes, Kat Green, Carl Ciarfalio, Chuck Butto, Annie Gagen, Howard Shangraw, David Keith Miller, Robert Alan Beuth, Patrick Richwood, Ricky Dean Logan, Mercedes McNab, Phillip Van Dyke, Michele Brown
screenplay by Craig J.Nevius, Kevin Rock, based on the Marvel Comics-comicbook created by Stan Lee (writer), Jack Kirby (artist), music by David Wurst, Eric Wurst, special effects by Mr.Film, Billups Communications, special makeup effects by Optic Nerve Studios

Fantastic Four

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Ten years ago: Reed Richards (Alex Hyde-White) and his best friend Victor (Joseph Culp) experiments on something that involves the meteor Colossus - but Victor dies in the experiments ... or rather seems to die.

Now: Reed Richards wants to go to Colossus in a self-built spaceship with his friends Ben Grimm (Michael Bailey Smith), Sue Storm (Rebecca Staab) - who's of course in love with Reed -, and Sue's hothead brother Johnny (Jay Underwood), however, a certain Doctor Doom, whose evilness is even in his name and who eventually will turn out to be Reed's friend Victor, wants to sabotage their efforts - but before he can do so, another baddie called the Jeweller (Ian Trigger) steals the jewel that is supposed to run Reed's ship and substitutes it for a fake.

Somehow, the foursome makes it to the meteor though, and when their rocket crashes back to earth, they are all mysteriously unharmed, but seem to have special powers: Reed can stretch his limbs to almost infinity, Sue can turn invisible, Johnny can ignite himself without being harmed or anything else for that matter, and he can fly too, and Ben ... he has become incredibly strong and impervious to bullets, but he has also become a monster aka The Thing (and is from now on played by Carl Ciarfalio) - which he isn't too fond of given his former good looks.

Anyways, the four superheroes are soon apprehended by what seem to be gouvernment agents, but soon Reed and company find out they are really agents of Doom, and they use their powers to make a getaway.

In Reed's lab, the four are making some experiments concerning their new superowers, but the Thing feels out of sync with the others and hits the streets ... and soon enough, he is welcomed into the Jeweller's colony of freaks, where he at first feels right at home - until he learns that the Jeweller wants to make Alicia Masters (Kat Green), Ben Grimm's former blind girlfriend, his queen. But before he can do anything much about it, Doctor Doom has taken over the colony and lures Ben's superhero friends there as well, to suck them dry of their superpowers ... but of course, our heroes just use their superpowers once more to get out of a tight spot and serve Doc Doom his just desserts ...

 

The genesis of this film is something of a legend: Apparently, Bernd Eichinger and Constantin would have lost the rights on Fantastic Four if they did not make a movie right then and there (this being 1994), but supposedly lacking funds and a proper screenplay to make the film into the spectacle Eichinger had envisioned, he hooked up with Roger Corman and New Horizons to make the stuff into an inexpensive B-picture - quite fitting actually, given the trashiness of its source material, an uninspired sci-fi-superhero comic created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee back in 1962. But of course, Eichinger had no plans to ever release the film (and hasn't officially to this day), which none of the cast and crew was told of course. However, through not quite legal channels, the film leaked out to the interested public in various versions, from a rough cut without music and missing most of the effects - long thought the only version in existence - to the finished film with everything properly in place and ready to screen - the version this review is based on.

 

The question that remains is of course, is the fillm any good ?

The answer is: Not really, it's your typical 1990's low budget sci-fi schlock in which underwhelming acting and an indifferent directorial job clash with a underdeveloped screenplay that wastes to much time with the story's setup to spend much time with the actual (and very muddled) main story. And Doctor Doom just fails to impress as a villain thanks to a less than impressive costume. On the plus side of course, the special makeup-jobs on the Thing and the Jeweller are quite well-done, especially given the budgetary limitations of the film - but unfortunately that's simply not enough.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD