Roger Corman has made over a hundred films, a B-movie legend of a director. And let’s not forget, producer of Sharktopus, which will be the only remnant of our culture that survives in a thousand years. But he made one unreleased film that has become a particular legend of the Internet age, when we dig up every bit of minutia and trivia, the little vagaries that would have only been buried in biographies or insider rumors a generation or two ago.
Fantastic Four, the 1992 production, not the 2005 one, was made for a cool million dollars and never released, and after the fact it became clear that there had never been any intent to ever release the film. That little detail was hidden from cast and crew, who did their damnedest to make a superhero film with three shoelaces and a roll of duct tape.
See, Bernd Eichinger had bought the rights to Fantastic Four for the relatively small sum of $250,000 back in the early eighties. Those rights were set to expire on December 31st, 1992 unless they were used to make a film, in which case he got to retain them for further films. So in a con straight out of much better films than he ever funded, Eichinger realized that the fine print never said that the film actually had to be released nor properly funded. He could keep the rights by making faces for thirty seconds into a camcorder as long he wrote “Fantastic Four” on the VHS in sharpie.
But realizing that such flagrance might have repercussions, he funded it as a B-movie with a known director. That right there, the conned cast and crew, the sheer fuck-you of the entire enterprise, that deserves a documentary. And so we’re getting one, and here’s the trailer: