Alright, I admit it. I have a problem. I just can’t let this damn movie go. I’m talking of course of the 1994 unreleased adaption of Marvel’s The Fantastic Four, produced by legendary B-movie filmmaker Roger Corman.
Regular visitors to this blog will be familiar with this production. I have in the not too distant past posted reviews of the movie itself, the documentary about the movie and the book about the documentary. And now I’ve reviewed a book about the movie.
When will this end?
So, anyway. For the uninitiated, The Fantastic Four went into production in December 1992 with a shoestring budget and a tight deadline. Knowing that they had a much-loved property on their hands, and that it could be a springboard to bigger and better things, the cast and crew put their hearts, souls and, yes, own money into it, giving it everything they had and stretching that miniscule budget to its limit. Corman himself even started preparing the ground for a cinematic release, cutting a trailer and commissioning promotional materials.
And then the movie was shelved.
The cast and crew were blindsided. It turned out that co-executive producer Bernd Eichinger had only gone into production with this ultra low budget production to satisfy a clause in a contract that would allow him to hang onto the rights. This way, he could hold out for a bigger deal from a major studio further on down the line.
Filmmaking. It’s a dirty business. Who knew?
I was hoping this book, Forsaken – the Making and Aftermath of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four by William Nesbitt would be the definitive literary account of this whole sorry episode, but I was disappointed. Instead of spelling out the story for us, it is instead a book of interviews with most of the people involved, including the stars, the crew and Corman himself. In this respect, it’s a book for the die hards only.
Luckily for me, I’m one of them.
It’s s shame Nesbitt didn’t take a more journalistic approach with Forsaken. Had he done so, it would be of interest not just to fans of the property, but also anyone fascinated by the machinations of Hollywood. That said, there is much to be gleaned from the interviewees, like who knew what and when. It also gives an intriguing insight into the inner workings of Corman’s studio. Honestly, it really is jaw dropping how many corners were cut on this film to keep it within budget, such as the actors wearing their own clothes on screen.
So, if you’re interested in Corman’s production of The Fantastic Four, or in Corman himself, you will enjoy Forsaken. But if not, the last word on this notorious film remains Mark Sikes and Marty Langford’s 2016 documentary Doomed: the Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four.