Why the unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four movie was such a disaster – by design
From the start, the actors realized that this “Fantastic Four” would not be as big a production as they imagined, made even more suspicious by the fact that they were filming until Christmas. The soundscapes from Venice, California to New Horizons were more like a condemned warehouse, with a rat-catching cat named Lucy.
While Optic Nerve’s Rubber Thing costume was fairly comic-book style, the spandex costumes with a stitched “4” worn by the rest of the stars were more akin to homemade Halloween costumes. Mr. Fantastic’s stretching effects were laughable, and the few seconds that Johnny Storm fully ignites in a flying body burn were rendered in the most primitive CGI imaginable. Even the secondary villain Mole Man had to be changed into a generic sewer villain called the Jeweler, played by Englishman Ian Trigger (his final on-screen performance) in a crass troll makeup.
When the ultra-rushed 22-day filming schedule was completed in late January 1993, post-production efforts suddenly came to a halt – much to the bewilderment of director Oley Sassone. Very soon, with Corman’s company going radio silent and withholding funds, visual effects and other post-production efforts were dealt with clandestinely.
Sassone and his editors received material under different movie titles so they could finish the movie under the radar. Even the film’s composers, brothers David and Eric Wurst (“Bloodfist IV: Die Trying”), invested $ 6,000 of their own money to hire a 48-piece orchestra for the soundtrack. A few new transitional scenes were shot by Sassone on the fly, including shots of the Thing on city streets that were filmed without a permit or even lighting.
In August 1993, Stan Lee, who had visited the set frequently during filming (even bringing the donuts one day), was already publicly distancing himself from the film at a comic book convention:
“It’s not just in the works, it’s almost finished. It will be released someday, I think, at the end of this year. I’m not expecting too much. Marvel had no control. Our lawyers just gave Roger Corman the rights to make the film. There won’t be any other projects like this. Then we’ll do it ourselves. “
Wanting to get the word out, some cast members used thousands of dollars of their own money to hire a publicist and started making appearances at San Diego Comic-Con and elsewhere to meet fans and spread the word. Chris Gore of Film Threat had been on set as a reporter and wrote a cover story for the magazine. But all these advertising efforts would be in vain.