“None of this is malicious, this is Hollywood” is the summation of the documentary about the shelved, yet often pirated 1st attempt at a Fantastic Four movie, DOOM! THE UNTOLD STORY OF ROGER CORMAN’S THE FANTASTIC FOUR. For almost an hour and a half the stars, director, editor, and producers of the Roger Corman co-produced tale of Marvel’s first family breaks down how the movie was made, promoted, and then utterly dismissed. The documentary, directed by Marty Langford, tugs at the heartstrings though, as the passion for their fallen feature comes through from everyone involved. THE FANTASTIC FOUR film is made with an independent spirit and that is possibly why the movie survives as a cult classic today.
DOOMED! is a great insight into how movies get made and languish within the Hollywood system. The fact that THE FANTASTIC FOUR was only made to maintain the rights to the intellectual property, and that over a million dollars and the time and energy of the talent and behind the scenes crew were dedicated to creating something that would never see the night of day is actually a fairly common concept, the only difference in this case is that everyone involved thought that they were actually making a movie that would be screened all around the world.
Made during the low point of the Marvel film years, and hot on the heels of the lower budget PUNISHER and CAPTAIN AMERICA (1990), the Fantastic Four property was thought, by the folks involved, to be the next big franchise that was set to launch the careers of those in front of and behind the camera to the next strata of their careers. Instead the conspiracy theories and feelings of “something is not quite right” started to arise. As the film was being finished, it started to become apparent that maybe the studio didn’t have as much confidence in completing the film at all.
Sensing that the film was in danger, the stars took it upon themselves to guerrilla market the movie. Appearing at conventions, doing Q & A sessions, and showing the trailer for the film (although the film wasn’t even complete yet) to generate buzz for a possible premiere that hadn’t even been scheduled yet.
Although you can definitely see there is an undertone of bad feelings for how they were treated, it is their sadness that comes through more than anything. This was not just a job to them, but an endeavor that was supposed to change their lives. This was their one big moment that was snatched away from them, through no fault of their own. In the end, while they didn’t get the money and fame that they deserved, the masses have spoke and the film they worked so hard on survives through the efforts of their fans. You can see a flicker of appreciation and gratefulness as they talk about how the film got out, and how their film’s legacy survived despite Hollywood’s best efforts to bury them.
FILM SYNOPSIS - A documentary that tells the history of the ill-fated movie version of the Fantastic Four that was executive produced by Roger Corman.