SPRINGFIELD – A little more than three years ago, Springfield native Mark Sikes and his friend Marty Langford, filmmaker and a professor of film at American International College (AIC), had an idea for documentary: tell the story of the “lost” 1994 version of “The Fantastic Four.”
Both men are lifelong comic book fans and Sikes had worked on the film produced by Roger Corman.
Fast forward and the film is going to make its Western Massachusetts premiere at a free showing “Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four” on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Griswold Theater on the AIC campus. After the screening Langford will conduct a question and answer session moderated by local writer/personality Adam Moreau, a contributor to the globally known website, “The Geek League of America,” as well as a radio personality on WHYN, 560AM.
The screening follows a successful string of showings at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, The Screen Actors Guild Foundation in Los Angeles, CA, The Aero Theater in Santa Monica, CA, and others.
The film has attracted positive press from Variety, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire and Maxim among others. Some of the stories have noted the low budget 1994 film was more fun than this summer’s big-budgeted version of the superhero team.
Langford told Reminder Publications, “I’m just happy my students, family and friends can see it. Every other screening has been out of town.”
He added an additional screening in Springfield would be at the Bing Arts Center as part of this year’s Bing Comic Con on Oct. 24.
The film tells the story of how a team of filmmakers and cast of actors labored under a low budget and tight schedule to make a filmed version of the Jack Kirby and Stan Lee comic book. They naturally thought it would be released. Posters and other promotional material was designed and printed and a trailer was cut and included on other Corman movies.
They had no idea the German producer who held the rights to the property simply needed to get a film made by a certain date in order to maintain those rights. Corman apparently didn’t realize it either. Everyone got paid, but what the cast and crew had hoped would happen – audiences seeing the film – didn’t happen.
The film has since become unique, as although it is supposed not to exist, pirated copies of it have long been staples on dealers’ tables at pop culture conventions. The film can be seen in its entirety on YouTube.
Langford and Sikes interviewed the entire cast and many key crew members including its director Oley Sassone and legendary producer-director Roger Corman at whose studio the film was made.
Principal photography started in August 2013. Langford said of the project, “At times it consumed me months at a time and months of time I hadn’t been able to look at it. I needed the breaks.”
It was not Langford’s first feature-length film, but unlike his other experiences the movie was essentially a “two man show” with him in Massachusetts and Sikes in California.
The film has other local connections as its music score was composed by Ludlow musician Davis Horgan and the poster and other graphics designed by Mark Masztal of Springfield.
What has Langford excited is having the DVDs of the film “in sight.” He and Sikes have signed with Uncork’d Entertainment, which will be distributing the film to a variety of different venues.
There have already been pre-order for the film and Langford said, “My biggest joy is getting this film into the hands of the fans.”