There Was Almost a 1980s SPIDER-MAN Horror Movie by Tobe Hooper Inspired by David Cronenberg's THE FLY
There was a time in the ‘80s when the rights to Marvel’s Spider-Man passed from producer Roger Corman to Cannon Films. As you know, neither of the studios were known for their high quality films. They didn’t have very high standards.
When Cannon Films landed the rights to Spider-Man in 1985, they started developing it as a horror movie that was inspired by David Cronenberg’s The Fly! The studio even brought on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre director Tobe Hooper to work on the film along with Outer Limits creator Leslie Stevens to write a script for the film.
This would have been unlike any Spider-Man story that’s even been told! In this version of Peter Parker’s origin story, “instead of being bitten by a radioactive spider, Parker was deliberately bombarded with radiation by a corporate scientist – named Doctor Zork – who transforms the ID photographer (not student, or journalist) into a giant eight-armed spider-hybrid, who’s so monstrous he swiftly becomes suicidal.”
This Spider-Man creature was then encouraged by its creator “to lead the scientist’s race of mutants (shades of The Island Of Dr Moreau), but refuses and fights the creations instead.”
As you might image, Stan Lee was very unhappy with the direction that they were taking the film and convinced Cannon to drop this version of the project.
While the movie sounds like it would have been crazy, weird, and awful, I still kinda would’ve been interested in seeing how it turned out! But Cannon put together a new pitch that was created by Ted Newsom and John Brancato. This was a more traditional approach, and the concept is said to be a lot like the recent Spider-Man PS4 game.
As in the game, this take saw Otto Octavius as a teacher and mentor to a college-aged Peter Parker. The same accident that transforms Peter also turns Otto into Doctor Octopus, who tries to control the world using a previously undiscovered ‘fifth force’ of nature. As a result, New York City is threatened, as is the world.
Director Tobe Hooper was not involved with this version of the film. He was replaced by Joseph Zito, who had just helmed Cannon's Chuck Norris action film Invasion USA. Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Forever Knight creator Barney Cohen was hired to write the script. He gave Doc Ock the catch phrase, ‘Okey-dokey’. "He also simplified the villain’s aim – shifting from the fifth force to an ability to control gravity.”
The project started out with a $20 million budget, and the studio was looking to cast Tom Cruise as Peter Parker, Bob Hoskins as Doc Ock, Christopher Lee as a supporting scientist, Lauren Bacall or Katharine Hepburn for Aunt May, and Stan Lee could have potentially playing Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson!
That would have been interesting to see! But after the failures of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Masters of the Universe, Cannon cut the budget to under $10 million, and with that the film lost its director. The script then went through some rewrites and with every rewrite the script is said to have gotten worse and worse.
Obviously, the movie ended up never getting made. After that, the rights landed at 20th Century Fox, which is when director James Cameron started to work on his vision of the film. He was developing the film in 1992, but it also never got made. That film would have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doc Ock and Cameron included a sex scene between Parker and Mary Jane Watson.
Years later, the rights for Spider-Man landed at Columbia Pictures, which is where Sam Raimi jumped on board and finally made a great movie that helped pave the way for the current era of superhero movies.
Would you have liked to see these early versions of Spider-Man get made? What do you think about Cannon’s attempt at a Spider-Man horror movie that would have been like The Fly?
Source: Digital Spy