The business of gazing at guys in long underwear, once a gratifyingly furtive act, has achieved major out status these days. Funnybook fans overwhelmed by the recent preponderance of big budget, high profile Spider-Men and Blades may wish to hearken back to the intermittently thrilling days of yesteryear, when mighty Marvel Comics seemed willing to part with the film rights of their most beloved characters for a half-full pack of Kools.
• Fantastic Four (1994)--You have more loose change in your pockets right now than this movie cost to make. Some genuine love and feel for the milieu is quickly stamped out by the presence of legendary skinflint Roger Corman, who most likely spent the bulk of the production process wavering between coughing up the dough for the Human Torch's effects or simply lighting an unsuspecting extra on fire. Never given a formal release due to legal snafus, but worth hunting down a bootleg for Mr. Fantastic's stretchy pipe cleaner arms alone.
• Captain America (1991)--Possibly the most inept film to have a connection to the act of placing ink on paper, the sole attraction here is the chance to see the title character boldly re-imagined as a clumsy guy in a spangled Danskin with protruding rubber ears. The good Captain is portrayed by the son of J.D. Salinger, which may possibly account for the author's continued self-imposed exile.
• The Punisher (1989)--The greasy, grieving Dolph Lundgren lets a whole lotta daylight through a slew of warring ethnic stereotypes in this dark, dank paean to vigilante justice. Louis Gossett Jr. bats cleanup. Rather fun on a sleazy grindhouse level, but loses major points by dropping the whole cool skull shirt logo thing, which deserved to be on a drink cup, dammit.
• The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)--Brawny Lou Ferrigno and brainy Bill Bixby pull on the shredded purple pants that made them famous in this made-for-TV reunion that defies sober description. In a masterful example of superheroic synergy, the asparagus-hued colossus here hooks up with Thor, the boozy, copiously body-lubed Norse God of Thunder. Velveeta Valhalla, True Believers.