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Fantastic Four ?

Fantastic Four ?

Old 07-15-04, 02:56 AM
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From a recent "review" on comicon.com:


Watch out for Smokey and hide the hooch; we’re goin’ bootleggin’! At the risk of the revenooers knocking down my door, I’ll confess to picking up a few bootleg tapes at conventions over the years. Typically, these have been flix from overseas that weren’t domestically available at the time, films like Tsui Hark’s Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain or God of Gamblers, which features Chow Yun Fat in a role that straddles Maverick and Rain Man. However, on those rare occasions, I’ve bagged stuff related to comics. They’re more regularly appearing on freshly burned DVDs, but more years they’ve been the province of tape.

Some of these are actually being defeated now by official DVD releases. Among my favorite now-irrelevant bootlegs are the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes Earshot and the two-part Graduation. If you recall, those episodes were set to air circa the Columbine incident. Both episodes dealt with violence at the high school, and sensitive minds at The WB pushed the shows out of order to later dates. At the time, fans went nuts because the season finale was delayed. This led to a short boom in bootleg copies. Of course, said episodes have now been shown on FX a dozen or more times each, and are available in the Season Three boxed set. I picture tubs and milk crates in dealer closets filled with the now unmovable merch.

But really, when I think of bootlegs, a few obvious ones come to mind. The out-of-print copies of the late ‘70s Reb Brown Captain America TV movies. The out-of-print Dr. Strange. The legendary, shunned by Lucas Star Wars Christmas Special (which I saw when it aired, and for years, people didn’t believe me when I described it to them). Of the great unwashed mass of boots, there are ultimately three that are my “favorite”. Submitted for your approval, here they are.

Fantastic Four: You knew this was coming. I actually have some genuine affection for this poor, misbegotten film. Directed by Oley Sassone, who made his name with Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight (okay, maybe not), and then went on to direct for a legion of campy genre shows (Mutant X, Xena, Viper, The Sentinel, She Spies), the film suffers immediately from the black mark of the fact that it was never intended to be released.

Huh? It all goes to the machinations of options in Hollywood. Corman’s rights were about to expire, and unless they began production by a certain date, they’d lose the rights. By knocking out a film, they could get cash. It’s that simple. So they made a cheapie version with no intention of it getting out. Actually, the cast and crew didn’t know this; if you read the issue of Film Threat about the production of the film (which features the cast on the cover), they’re all operating under the assumption that they’re doing straight-forward work.

The other funny part of that bit is that at the time (1994), Chris Columbus was apparently chomping at the bit to make a big-budget FF film, and that kicked off the rights imbroglio. Obviously, that didn’t happen. What’s also ironic is that instead of fast-tracking FF after the success of the X-Men film, things floundered, blowing the numerological perfection that would have come from putting out the FF on 04-04-04.

At any rate, we wind up with this version. In his book Danse Macabre, Stephen King describes one of his all-time favorite bad movies, Robot Monster as “charmingly awful.” I can think of no better description for this one. It’s flat-out bad, yet I have to enjoy the damn earnestness of the whole affair. It’s obvious that all concerned tried their darnedest, but just couldn’t make big ideas and big stories work in the confines of limited budget.

Take, for example (please!), the wonder that is Joseph Culp (son of Bill!) as Dr. Doom. It’s not that he’s tremendously bad. It’s that you can barely hear him behind the friggin’ mask! “Richards!” sounds like “Rhmphats!”

Then there’s one of the greatest movie scenes of all time, when Alicia Masters is kidnapped. She’s jumped from behind, and in that hoary movie standard, we see from her point-of-view as she slowly slips into unconsciousness. One problem with that, though. SHE’S BLIND!!

That’s to say nothing of the magnificent stretching effects, the cartoon Human Torch, or the sheer humiliation of being named the Fantastic Four by Sue and Johnny’s mom.

There are a few fun things worthy of note. I think that they did a nice job with the actual look of The Thing (even if they did reuse the same shots of him fighting henchmen at least three times). I find it funny in retrospect that Buffyverse staple Mercedes McNab played a young Sue Storm. Of course, as an unrepentant male, I will admit to my favorite part of the film being the adult Sue Storm, Rebecca Staab. She’s extremely cute (and has gone on to other genre projects, notably a run as a vampire on Port Charles).

This movie inspires abject hatred in some, but I kind of look at it like a student film. They really, really tried to get the spirit of the characters, which is more than you can say for a few big budget versions. *cough*Joel*cough*

The rest of the article goes on about the Justice League pilot for CBS and the infamous Legends of the Superheroes.

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Old 07-15-04, 09:00 AM
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Originally posted by EskimoJoe
There are actually several used VHS copies at amazon.com. There is a legal way to get your hands on this movie, if you really want it.
It has never been released on home video.

Buying a bootleg VHS off a seller on Amazon is no more 'legal' than buying a bootleg DVD off a seller on eBay.
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Old 07-16-04, 08:18 PM
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I thought this movie wasn't bad, and it actually provided a never before seen origin for Dr. Doom.

Definitely worth picking up in one form or another for collectibility sake...
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Old 07-16-04, 10:21 PM
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I thought it was a decent Roger Cormen movie and a must-see for comic book fans.
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Old 07-18-04, 05:04 PM
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According to a US bootleg official I asked, he said it's pretty hard to go after anyone for bootlegging something that was NEVER released. There is no $$ lost because the company never intends to release it. It's a very gray area and for shows like the unaired Justice League pilot and the Fantastic Four they will never go after someone for just those type of shows.

It's the bootlegs of released stuff that they care about. Look at all the fan boots of animes...fully acceptable until the US release happens. I wouldn't buy a bootleg but for these rare examples I gladly do it. If the company has a problem with it then they will have to release it before they can complain or take me to court.

I have the FF by the way...and it's not a horrible film. It's cheesy but in a fun way. Horrible is something like 21 Grams.

Last edited by TheV; 07-18-04 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 07-19-04, 05:32 AM
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jesus christ enough of the bootleg talk. TheV is right. If the film was never released and was not going to make any money anyways, then who really gives a damn. It should be open domain.
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Old 07-19-04, 08:40 AM
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Don't do it! I downloaded the movie - skipped through many sections - watched about 60 seconds and had to delete it. The simpy picture of the FF above pretty much tells you how syrupy the production is. The sets are almost as elaborate as your average high school play. They really must have blown a full $1000 in production costs and salaries for this monstrosity. It's like watching an episode of Baywatch without the riveting dialogue, the complex plot or any scantily clad women. If I was younger and drinking heavily this might have been amusing. OK, I'll try not to sugar coat it any more - it was bad, painfully unpleasant; Doctor Doom could use this film to torture his prisoners. The atrocities committed by Robespierre during his reign of terror were blown out of proportion if one compares them to this atrocity. There are so many better things to do than watch this film - I'd rather run the Boston Marathon with a rock in my shoe, I'd rather get elective root canal surgery, I'd rather stay home with my girlfriend and discuss our relationship, I'd rather watch a movie starring Cher, Liza, Meryl Streep AND Bette Middler.



Last edited by boe; 07-19-04 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 07-19-04, 04:42 PM
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The rest of the article goes on about the Justice League pilot for CBS and the infamous Legends of the Superheroes

Holy crap, I forgot all about those two "classics"! I remember watching a friend's copies of them, one drunken night about 8 years ago (they were live action, not cartoons!). Forget, the Corman FF film, these are the bootleg superhero tapes to track down. They were just mindboggling to watch.
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Old 07-19-04, 04:50 PM
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Has anyone else noticed that Comic Book properties seem to be the most bootlegged stuff on DVD? I mean I seen multiple sellers with DVD copies of the live action versions of -Generation X, Nick Fury, Captain America, Doctor Strange, The Spirit and about every 1960's and 70's animated series you can think of. You think the studios would get off there buttocks and release some of these at the height of the Comic Book boom.
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