Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four (2015) – Jim Morazzini


Back in the day a friend of mine headed out to L.A. with a film degree and a couple of contacts at Roger Corman’s New World Studios. She came back a couple of years later, broke but with some great stories about the making of some of the films she worked on. While I eventually saw most of them, (including a theatrical showing of Carnosaur which I saw with her), one eluded me for years, The Fantastic Four. Eventually I would track it down and come to appreciate it for what it was. Now Marty Langford has made a documentary about the behind the scenes goings on, both on the set and in the boardrooms of the film.

Using footage from the film along with interviews with an assortment of cast and crew members including Corman himself Langford gives us a fun and enjoyable look at both the making of this low budget superhero film and the business decisions that got it made and ensured that it would never be released.`And if you’re shaking your head at the very idea of Roger Corman filming The Fantastic Four, just remember this was back when the only comic book movies with major budgets had been the Superman and Batman films. Most of the superheroes, especially Marvel ones were on TV, like the Incredible Hulk, or the two Captain America movies. So a low budget adaptation was not such a strange idea.

From the first calls or auditions, (then unknowns Mark Ruffalo, Nick Cassavetes, and Patrick Warburton were among those who read for roles) through the casting of the leads including Alex Hyde-White and the rather over the top Joseph Culp (both sons of famous actor fathers), and the start of shooting a couple of days after Christmas with no rehearsals or preparation we get the stories of a small cast and crew doing their best to make up for a lack of money with enthusiasm and talent. At times even using their own money they pushed the film through production and an iffy post production, convinced this could be their break.

But what the cast and crew didn’t know, (whether Corman himself knew is open to debate), is that the whole thing was just a ruse so New Constantine films could hold onto it’s rights to the property. Thus this cheap production, never intended for release was commissioned. As post production drags on and the release keeps getting pushed back, it starts to become obvious something is up.

Granted, it would have been good if there had been some input from Marvel or New Constantine apart from some media quotes that are presented along the way. But in some ways that’s not as important as the story of the making of the film.

Comic fans, movie buffs and geeks in general should enjoy Doomed when Uncork’d releases it on VOD 10/11 and DVD on 12/20.

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