Especially as you know you put your heart and soul into it. The whole point of making a movie is for people to see it. So to find out it was never going to be seen was like a punch in the gut.”
“For me, it hurt because I really wanted to do more,” says Staab. “We were a great team, and there was this belief that if we showed we could make it on that kind of budget, maybe they would let us make another one with more money.”
Slowly but surely, however, the film began to find its way to fans. Quite how that happened is unclear. Underwood recalled that Sassone, who by then had been locked out of editing, had a workprint of the movie on tape and made a point of making copies for each of the cast so they could at least see it for themselves. To Underwood’s way of thinking, it’s conceivable that whoever made those copies out in some video lab in L.A. may have made an extra one for themselves.
Whatever the truth, he still recalls the shock and excitement he felt when he first laid eyes on a bootleg version at a convention in Stockton, California. “I was like ‘Oh my word! This is our movie!’” Since finding its way onto the bootleg market, the movie has filtered onto video platforms like YouTube and Dailymotion, garnering a positive response in the process with the cast becoming popular fixtures at comic book conventions.
“The feedback I typically get is that the film stays the closest to the original comic, right down to the look and feel of it,” says Underwood. “I’ve personally always likened it to the old Batman television series. I’m not going to say our film is some incredible, ‘top 100 films of all time’ kind of thing. It’s a low budget superhero movie but it has a lot of heart.”
Meanwhile Staab muses that “of all the Fantastic Four movies, ours was like the best buddy film… Our intention of making the film for the fans and being accurate for the fans actually ended up serving us best in the long run. Because it’s the fans that have kept this film on the backburner, no matter how much somebody wants to bury it.”