Thursday, February 26, 2015

Unreleased Fantastic Four movie (1994)

Many years ago when I was writing for a website called Obscene Newg I put together an article about the unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four movie. Below is the trailer off YouTube as well as my article that never got posted on the defunct site. Heavy on the Spoilers, just saying.

Bootlegs of this film have been circulating among fans over the internet and at comic conventions. I just happened to stumble across a bootleg copy. After viewing the movie with fellow Newg author Greg, we decide to investigate the film a little further. I did some looking around on the net, most sources listed the same rumors and limited bits of information about the movie. I tried to include a little bit more detailed summery of the plot as well as a lot of screen captures to help you get the full fell of this motion picture masterpiece of shit. The movie is low budget, cheesy, and yet at times fun. It features a cast not-so-famous actors and actresses with questionable acting ability.

Alex Hyde-White as Reed Richards
Jay Underwood as Johnny Storm
Rebecca Staab as Sue Storm
Michael Bailey Smith as Ben Grimm
Ian Trigger as The Jeweler
Joseph Culp as Victor von Doom
Kat Green as Alicia Masters
Carl Ciarfalio as The Thing

The movie starts in a lecture hall as a professor tells his class about this rare phenomenon that is going to happen that night.  Wow, what are the odds? Students, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm are in this class. Ben isn’t paying a lot of attention and Reed, being a genius, can pay attention, talk to Ben and pass notes with his fiend Victor at the same time. Victor wants to try to harness the power of this Colossus comet or cosmic storm that will occur that night. He wants Reed to help him run a machine on campus that evening during the storm because it will help them with their research. I’m not sure what University the movie is set at, but the equipment they have and the fact that they let the students us it at all ours of the night is slightly alarming.

That evening after Reed and Ben stop by the boarding house where they live (with the Storm family). Reed heads to the laboratory to meet with Victor. They get the machine ready while a crowd of students, including Ben, gather near the laboratory to watch the cosmic storm.

Of course the storm is so powerful all the instruments overload and strange lighting comes down from the sky through the device and zaps Victor. Ben rushes into the lab from outside and knocks Victor out of the ways of the lightening arc. They quickly rush him to the hospital where he is pronounced dead by a doctor with a weird accent. The hospital staff is very reminiscent of an old spy movie. The doctor then steals the body of the not quite dead Victor with the help a medical technician.

Ten years later, as the caption so helpfully points out, Reed has grayed a little while building a rocket ship powered by some fancy crystal cluster. The rocket, sitting on its launch pad looks like a model kit I might have built when I was nine. During this time Ben has become a pilot and they decide to fly out to Colossus to once again try to harness its power. Before they leave they must first pick up the now young adult children of the woman from whom they used to rent rooms from. Who else would you pick to have on your crew? It’s amazing how much the kids (Sue & Johnny) have aged while Reed and Ben look relatively the same.

Now that our heroes are all reunited Mrs. Storm looks at her children about to go to space with two former tenants and says “Look at you, the Fantastic Four”. It’s one of those touching moments in the movie. They leave and go wait for Reed's crystals to be delivered.

Unknown to our heroes a strange guy who reminds me of Ivan Ooze from the Power Rangers movie is spying on the armored truck that delivers the crystal. This strange sewer dweller is none other than the nefarious Jeweler. The crystal is delivered to Reed and Ben inside a bullet proof case in the lobby of the building.

As Ben carried the case he accidentally knocks a blind girl over, smashing a statue that she was carrying. He helps her up and she touches his face. She is instantly so in love with him she stops worrying about her broken statue and walks away. I’m telling you the plot to this movie is just bullet proof.

Upstairs Reed explains to his fellow crew-mates that this crystal is a good power source for the ship because it will not overheat due to all the different crystals bunched together in this cluster. Everyone seems so impressed.

Once everyone is asleep the Jeweler heads out to steal the crystal. He walks by the blind woman’s apartment while she is sculpting a bust of Ben Grimm. The Jeweler notices how beautiful she is and then heads on to the building where the crystal is being kept in a room laced with laser censors.

The Jeweler easily steps between the laser beams and replaces the real crystal with a fake. A mysterious man with a metal mask watches the jeweler steal the crystal over a surveillance camera system. He orders his henchman to get the crystal from the Jeweler and the Jeweler orders his henchman to kidnap the blind woman. The plot still seems simple enough. We have four good guys, a blind girl, a bad guy who wants a crystal, and another unnamed bad guy who wants a crystal.

Our heroes, knowing nothing about the switch-a-roo or the kidnapping, take off on their spaceship powered by the fake crystal. Another plot point totally grounded in scientific fact. All is going well. As the approach Colossus, Reed orders that some device on the top of the ship be activated. Johnny, being the experienced space ship operator he is, presses a button to deploy a satellite dish antenna type thing.

Within moments of deploying this energy harnessing antenna device the ship is blown into a million pieces. This sequence is complete with showers of sparks, shaky camera work, and actors falling out of their chairs. There is also a nice cross fade of the exploding ship over one of the crewman’s faces.

The crew of the ship find themselves lying on a hillside without their space helmets along with chucks of the ship. Johnny is so excited about what a crazy ride they where just on while Reed is a little depressed from failing once again. It’s really quite amazing how their helmets disintegrated in the explosion, but there isn’t even a single char mark on their space suits.

Something in the air tickles Johnny’s nose and he sneezes a fireball. This strange event makes them realize they are missing one of their fellow crew members, Sue.

They call for Sue and she shouts back, they still can’t find her. All of the sudden she materializes in from of them. When she realizes what happened she freaks out and falls backwards. Reed instinctively tries to catch her. His hand stretches out and catches her. Everyone is quite confused, yet they don’t seem to paniced. Johnny shoots flaming boogers, Reed’s arm just stretched three feet and Sue keeps turning invisible. I’d be kind of freaked out.

 The man in the shadows in now reviled to be Doctor Doom and he does a bunch more scheming. His mask is pretty comic book accurate and looks decent also. Inserting shots of Doctor Doom’s head while he rants and raves got to be a little old. Watching bad guys do evil things is more fun than listening to them plan them.

Our heroes decide to rest for the night and while laying by a camp fire several military jeeps show up to rescue them. When they solders see Ben they almost open fire because sometime during the night he has mutated into the Thing. Reed jumps in front of him and insists he’s a member of his crew. The Thing costume may be the high point of the movie. It is very comic accurate and moves fairly well. Think of the masks from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.

They are quickly whisked away and begin medical examinations in a very undetailed set. The quirky doctor, who is wearing one of those old fashioned reflector head bands, is shocked when he asks the Thing to take a seat and he crushes the small stool provided for him.

While Johnny is explaining to the doctor about his strange flame ability he happens to say the magic words “Flame On” and his hand bursts into flame. It is hard to tell if the doctor or Johnny is more surprised. This scene right here should have won Jay Underwood an Oscar. His acting ability is just amazing. The screen capture speaks for its self. It’s a real shame for his sake this film never made it to theaters. Next the doctor examines Sue, and when he wants to draw blood she disappears.

By the time the doctor gets to examine Reed, he is rather scared of his new patents. He tells Reed he can draw his own blood. Reed gives no argument and grabs the needle from across the room. The special effects are just amazing, words can’t really describe just how real that fake hand is.

Now, if the story wasn't weird before… it gets very strange.  The doctor, at the facility where our heroes were taken after being rescued by the military, works for Dr. Doom. He tells Doom about these four individuals with amazing powers. Doom asks him about the possibility of extracting these four powers and implanting them in one person. The doctor thinks it would be possible and a plan begins to form. Yet again cutting away from the Fantastic Four to watch Doom talk for ten minutes.

At the same time, the heroes are getting bored of being locked up the cheesy observation room set, and when three guards in body suits walk into their cell, the Thing beat them up. The fight consists of everyone standing still while the image on the screen spins and punching sound effects are heard. In the following shot Reed, Sue, and Johnny are dressed in the suits and plan to find a way out. The sneak into a control room, take out the guards and open the main door. Unfortunately Sue’s invisible punch did not knock the guard out for long. He gets up and sets off the alarm.

The Things burst through the wall of his cell and comes running to meet his partners. When armed guards show up wearing green hoods (similar to Dr. Doom’s) he utters his catch phrase “It’s clobbering time” and starts pounding on the guards.

The other heroes show off their abilities as well. Reed stretches his leg out and trips some of the green guards. Once again, I can’t say it enough these effects are just really top notch. Sue disappears and ducks as guards on both sides of her open fire with their AK-47’s. This may be the team’s most effective tactic because it eliminated guards via friendly fire. Reed happens to catch a glimpse of a giant laser in the basement of this strange building they are imprisoned in. Don’t forget about this part, it will be important later.

Johnny uses his flame ability to try to blast a hole in the wall. Eventually the Thing comes over and breaks through the now hot and presumably weakened wall. Our heroes escape to their base of operation from before the space flight. Once back there they begin to process the fact that their lives will never be the same. Reed determines that their powers manifested from personality traits. Sue disappears because she is shy. Reed stretches because he often spreads himself thin. Johnny has his flame ability because of his explosive personality. Ben’s ability is due to the fact that he often uses brute strength to solve problems instead of his brain. They have a good chuckle and Ben storms out because he can’t turn off his power like the others.

He mysteriously finds his way to the Jeweler’s lair where he is welcomed by the army of homeless people and freaks. Shortly after his arrival Dr. Doom shows up to take the crystal that the Jeweler previously stole. The Jeweler uses the blind woman he kidnapped earlier that he now claims is his queen as a human shield. Doom has no interest in the girl, but grabs her to be his human shield when the Things storms in. Dr. Doom introduces himself and Ben states who he is. The blind girl remembers Ben’s name from when he bumped into her. She blurts out “I love you” and the Thing transforms back to Ben Grimm with the help of a neat morph effect. The morph, which is almost on par with the ones in Willow, is probably the best looking special effect in the entire film. That tells you just how real it looks when Reed stretches.

 Back at our heroes base Sue presents Johnny and Reed with Fantastic Four uniforms. Then suddenly Dr. Doom appears on the large flat screen monitor hanging from their ceiling. He informs the heroes that he is going to take over the world by destroying the city with his giant laser. It will be powered by Reed’s crystal that is now in Doom’s possession. Doom shows just how powerful the laser is by showing them the footage from the atomic bomb trials of the little cabin being destroyed. Ben having failed to recapture the crystal or save his girl friend gets pissed off and in a not so impressive special effect turns back into the Thing. Basically they flash back and forth between a shot of Ben and the Thing. He’s not even in the same position in both shots.

 The Thing returns to the heroes head quarters and walks into the room with Reed and the others as Doom finishes his message. They officially form the superhero team the Fantastic Four with one of those overused, everyone in a circle place one hand in the center, team shots. Then they blast off in their Fantastic Four Jet (Fantas-Car?). I guess Reed was building the jet while he waited for the glue to dry on his space ship.

The Fantastic Four enter Doom’s base and are quickly imprisoned by force fields of some sort. It reminded me of the scene in Star Wars III where the heroes get caught in the “Ray Shields”. As a mater of fact, the other thing that reminded me of Star Wars in this movie is the music. It’s not the Star Wars music, but there is a similar sound to it. One bit of the soundtrack that was used during several scenes was very similar to the Jawa Music in Star Wars IV. Having the heroes trapped in the force field allows Dr. Doom to give the usual overly long villain speech at this point. He explains about how he will extract their powers and implant them in himself and once again goes over his plan to take over the world by destroying the city with a laser.

 Doom activates his extraction device and it zaps the heroes with green lightening. The fact that the lightening hurts them is implied by the terrible faces they make. I was almost in pain watching some of their acting during this part of the movie.

 Luckily Reed or should I say Mr. Fantastic, since he’s in costume, stretches his foot under the force field and kicks the device. The lightening bolts move around as the machine wobbles and luckily it zaps the device that generates the force field. This frees our heroes and a battle ensues between the super hero team and Doom’s Green guards.

The Thing tosses a few of them around while Johnny shoots fireballs at them with bad aim. Both heroes’ attacks work to help chase off Doom’s troopers.

 Mr. Fantastic throws a few stretch punches before following Doom to another room. It’s amazing how the guards with machine guns can so easily be taken out with a slow punch from across the room. In the next room Doom activates the giant Laser.

The Invisible Girl uses he invisible force field ability to block a couple of the guards. Sue shouts to Johnny asking him what they should do about the laser. Is that a big pieces of plexiglass?

 Johnny replies, “I have an idea, Flame On!” He bursts into flames from head to toe and takes off like a rocket ship after the laser beam.

Mr. Fantastic confronts Doom. Secret claws extend out of Doom’s gauntlets and he tries to slash at Mr. Fantastic. The hero comes back with a couple of stretch punches. He eventually backs the villain up against a railing and punches him one more time sending Doom toppling over the railing.

At the same time a CGI Human Torch is racing as fast as he can to try to catch up with the laser. The CGI Human Torch needs to fly through the CGI clouds a lot faster if he wants to catch up with the CGI laser beam. I know this was made a while ago, but the graphics are really weak. Take the image of the Human Torch’s ass cheeks as an example.

After falling over the railing Doom is able to grab onto a gargoyle on the side of the building he has just fallen from. Doom confirms that he is Victor, a fact that Reed has discovered earlier. He begs to be spared. Reed stretches down and grabs him by one arm. As he starts to pull Doom up we see several close ups of the rivets at the end of Doom’s gauntlet. Suddenly the rivets come loose and he slips out of the gauntlet, and falls a great distance to be swallowed up by fog surrounding the bottom of his tower. At this point Sue walks into the room and comforts Reed. The gauntlet is left on the railing as the heroes walk out of the room. The shot lingers on the gauntlet, which eerily wiggles a couple of fingers.

 The Human Touch flying full throttle is able to catch up the front of the laser beam. He races along side it for several seconds.

Suddenly he is able to fly in front of the laser where the strength of the laser begins to push him along as if he was a person in front of a Mack Truck.

The force of the laser flips the Human Torch head over heels as it blasts him towards the city. This flipping results in several strange and almost disturbing positions. The tumbling and tossing beings to slow down as the Human Torch begins to gain control.

He eventually turns himself around and is able to fly fast enough the he can push the laser beam back and up into space. Once in space the beam explodes and the Fantastic Four have saved the day.

 he movie ends on a happy note as Sue and Reed get married. I find it funny that she wore a wedding dress, but the other three wore their uniforms. I would have liked to have seen the Thing in a tux.


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