Calgary's Comic Expo is coming up at the end of this month, so I thought I'd write about some of my favourite comic book movies. Today with the wonders of CGI, you can create a world of super special effects and bring any comic book hero to life. Not so much, in the late 70's and eighties. Back then, budgets for these types of movies were low and script writers didn't seem to understand or care about the characters. They would take an action movie formula or in some cases a comedy script and shoehorn a super hero into these ridiculous situations. This would then create some of best or worst B movies ever, depending on how you look at it.
Here are 5 strange super hero Tales that you need to see:
5. Captain America (1979) - B-movie superstar Reb Brown suits up and becomes the greatest made for TV comic book action hero ever! When commercial artist, Steve Rodgers, is almost killed for his late fathers top secret formulas; the government saves him by injecting an experimental drug called FLAG into him, that gives him super strength, lighting quick reflexes and bad taste in costumes. Like any good hero, he wants to get revenge so the government set him up with what would be state of the art in the 70's, a souped up motorcycle and a killer van. It's got Reb Brown in it! nuff said.
4. Fantastic Four (1994) - This was the first kick at the Fantastic Four as film and boy, did it flop. I read that the company never planned to release it but needed to produce it to keep the rights to the name. The film gives the basics on the FF and Doctor Doom, the fly into space, belted with rays and now they have super powers. Doctor Doom is awesome because he talks with his hands a lot, I think the actor was over compensating for wear the mask, which makes him barely audible. This is a really fun watch, whether you like the Fantastic Four or not.
3. Dr. Strange (1978) - This Marvel favourite came to life on yet another TV special in the 70's, as Dr. Stephen Strange, who must take up the mantle of his ancestors and become a sorcerer supreme to battle Morgan Lefey, a sorceress from the past and minion to a giant turd with eyeballs called the ancient one. This show is dull in the action sense, they take the origin idea and go on and on. The talking turd is funny and there are some serious psychedelic moments in the dimension traveling scenes. The bad taste of this TV film is so bad, it's probably the reason why we haven't seen another attempt at a Dr. Strange movie.
2. Legends of Superheroes (1979) - This painful 100 min made for TV special, comes in 2 parts. The first half is called "The Challenge", where the Riddler and number of DC badies attempt to blow up the world while Batman, Robin, Green Latern, Hawkman and other assorted DC hero's try and stop them. It's not really action oriented but more comedic and tries really hard to get the feel of the 1966 Batman show but misses horribly. The next half of the show is a superhero roast, hosted by Ed McMahon. The villains, who have just been defeated, tell jokes about their hero counterparts. It is painful and Frank Gorshin doesn't even make an appearance as the Riddler in the roast. I read about this in Adam West's biography and I understand how this could be embarrassing cause it ain't funny, in the way they were intending it to be.
1. Swamp Thing (1982) - Dr. Alec Holland and his sister is working on an experimental plant/human hybrid capable of surviving in hostile environments. While trying to steal the formula, the evil Dr. Arcane, kills Holland's sister and Dr. Holland becomes victim to his on experiment and turns into the Swamp Thing. He with the help of government agent Alice Cable, played by the lovely Adrienne Barbeau, go after Dr. Arcane and try and stop him. Wes Craven does a good job with this film and I like the make up for Swamp Thing, even though Swamp Thing didn't care for it.
These are fun films to watch and see how far one can stretch a budget. So when you see Adam West at the Comic Expo, ask him about the Legends of Superheroes and maybe he'll blush or punch you in the face.