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Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four: Comic Nuts Won’t Find a Better Documentary in 2016 [Review]

Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four is an upcoming documentary produced by Mark Sikes and directed by Marty Langford chronicling the infamous and original 1994 Fantastic Four film — which was shelved and never officially released. The movie features interviews with Roger Corman, Michael Bailey Smith, Jay Underwood, Joseph Culp, Rebecca Staab, Carl Ciarfalio, Alex Hyde-White and more. Doomed! hits Video on Demand  October 11, 2016 and DVD on December 20, 2016.

There are 336 names in the end crawl credits of the 1994 film, ‘The Fantastic Four’.  And though owners of the bootleg version of the film may appreciate them, the artists and craftspeople who created the movie have never been properly recognized. And that’s too bad.

‘The Fantastic Four’ has never been viewed legally by anyone in the world, other than those directly involved in the production. The negative presumably sits, to this day, on some shelf in some facility, both gathering dust and fated to become it. So – what are we going to do about that? For the first time in over 20 years, the TRUE account of this controversial cult classic will be revealed! And it’s a hell of a story. (synopsis from Doomed! The movie.com)

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By now, it’s likely that most comic fans, or even just comic book movie fans in general know about the fabled original Fantastic Four movie that was made and NEVER released…. At all. Like – not even direct to video released – NOTHING. So what happened? You will hear that Roger Corman’s production was NEVER supposed to see the light of day and that it was a cheaply made flick only ever put into motion to keep the rights in tact. Marvel President Avi Arad was quoted as having said that he bought the original film reels of this movie for a couple million dollars and BURNED THEM. To this day we don’t know if he was lying, or not, but Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four is the most eye-opening look into one of the film industry’s and certainly the comic film business’ most controversial and bewildering deceptions.

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You can watch the original Fantastic Four movie – you bet your ass you can get your hands on it via the internet. It won’t look that sharp, but it’s available thanks to someone (who did it? noone knows) who managed to make some rough copies from the original before Marvel bought the rights back and refused to let it be shown in 1994. I’ve seen some of it and you know what? If it were to get a re-release today with some boosts to the special effects – it would hands down be better than any of the piece of shit Fantastic Four movies that were released afterwards and had massive studio budgets.

The Doomed! Documentary features extensive interviews with the original cast and crew, with an amazingly in-depth look at the entire process from costuming The Thing, how they marketed the movie that never was, to how the Fantastic Four actors themselves were promoting the damn thing at comic-con and the fans were going nuts for it. Then it never happened. I love how they mentioned that Stan Lee himself would go to the set, bring the donuts, and then backhandedly say that he never even thought of the movie in interviews even though he had been there to check it out. Marvel at this point in time had NO right to complain about a film adaptation of their books considering the last projects they had released were Dolph Lundgren’s Punisher and the first Captain America. Remember the first Captain America? There you go.

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Marty Langford’s documentary does an incredible job exploring the era and it may very well be the most fascinating behind the scenes look into the comic book adaptation world. The interviews are all very candid, honest and Doomed! does a formidable job entertaining viewers with a wealth of clips from the original flick as well as never-before-seen footage from the making of process. The amount of effort they put into The Thing’s practical effects was actually quite exceptional considering the budget – especially how they pulled off being able to emote his face. As for the digital effects – there’s a whole story there as well that is both sad and hilarious… You’ll have to watch and see what went wrong there.

Doomed! Also reveals for the first time which A-List actors read for parts in Fantastic Four but didn’t make the cut… I won’t spoil them for you but let’s just say that one of them – is an Avenger in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s crazy… As for the original cast that actually made up our original four heroes, I feel so bad for them. Every single performer truly put their best foot forward and tried to make an honest and faithful adaptation of Marvel’s first-ever superhero team until Marvel itself pulled the rug out from under them.

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You likely won’t find a better documentary in 2016 if you’re a comic nut like myself, because Doomed! covers everything that you ever wanted to know about the Fantastic Four movie that never saw the light of day. Even with the internet being an option, I would love for the chance to see this thing restored and re-released with an effects upgrade. Although it’s highly unlikely at this point, you never know… For now we have bootlegs and a fascinating documentary that is both entertaining and startling as it turns over the nastier stones in Hollywood’s movie industry.

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