Spider-Man versus Kraven the Hunter (lost short superhero fan film; 1974)

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Spider V Kraven 1.jpg

Kraven the Hunter as he appears in the film.

Status: Lost

Spider-Man vs Kraven the Hunter is a 1974 fan film produced by students at New York University. Directed by Bruce Cardozo, it was adapted from the comic book storyline of the same name from The Amazing Spider-Man #15 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The film was not an officially licensed Marvel production but it did receive the unofficial blessing of Stan Lee before starting production, as well as his approval of the finished product.[1] After plans for distribution fell through, however, Cardozo lost interest in the project and all known prints are lost.

Background[edit | edit source]

Cardozo had long been fascinated by the challenges of producing believable superhero films and made several well-received amateur forays into the genre. Upon entering NYU in 1972, he proposed his latest idea as an experimental project for his film class: They would attempt to create a 16mm, full-colour, 30-minute Spider-Man movie, so faithful to both the character and story that audiences would feel as though they were looking at the comic book come to life. Many of his classmates were skeptical, but his instructor agreed to let the film shoot proceed.

Production[edit | edit source]

By all accounts the production team showed great care and creativity in enacting Cardozo's vision on a shoestring budget; pre-production reportedly extended over a year or more. After a long search, Joe Ellison was cast as Spidey's alter-ego Peter Parker, with Richard Eberhardt playing him while in costume. Andrew Pastorio played J. Jonah Jameson. It is unknown who played Kraven the Hunter or any other characters. Rumour has it that the actors in the film all had prominent New York accents, another nod to authenticity not always present in bigger-budget productions.[2]

Costumes were created by Daphne Stevens and Marilyn Hecht, inspired by the iconic artwork of Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko. Graphics were designed by Richard Eberhardt and included such obscure details as the Spider-Signal, a device that the web-slinger used very early in his career to project his image as a warning. The film also reportedly used innovative lighting effects created by Art Schweitzer and instead of using static backgrounds implemented many travelling matte shots of New York elements, including a neon-lit Times Square, to simulate the effect of Spider-Man swinging through the city. There were also large building sections built and laid horizontal to simulate Spider-Man climbing up walls.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

The plot of the comic book storyline begins with Spider-Man defeating a gang of thugs; one escapes and turns out to be the recurring villain Chameleon, who in turn calls on his half-brother Kraven the Hunter. This renowned warrior is intrigued by the idea of adding the notoriously elusive Spidey to his trophies and agrees to track him down. The hunt culminates in a final battle wherein Spider-Man must fight through numerous tricks and traps to finally defeat Kraven in hand-to-hand combat.

The film reportedly sticks very closely to this basic story, but apparently removes Chameleon and adds Peter Parker's girlfriend Gwen Stacy, who had since become a popular supporting character in the comics. The film's finale also seems to have added tigers to Kraven's arsenal.

Availability[edit | edit source]

Cardozo was greatly encouraged by the ongoing (if still very unofficial) support from the Marvel Comics team, which ran a glowing profile of the project in their self-published FOOM fanzine. This support evidently saw the film through to completion at least.[3] Initial plans were to distribute Spider-Man vs Kraven the Hunter commercially, but at some point shortly after filming wrapped Cardozo abandoned the idea, reportedly upon finding out that Lee & co's support did not extend to basically giving away the rights to their most popular character.

Evidently frustrated over having poured so much effort into a seemingly dead-end, Cardozo lost interest in the project. Over the subsequent years, he was persuaded to hold screenings of the finished film only occasionally at comic book conventions, beginning with Marvel's second annual Comics Convention in 1976.[4] The last known screening of the film was at the Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles in 2005.[5]

As the years passed, Cardozo and team continued to guard their creation closely, for reasons that became - and remain - increasingly unclear. In 2004, Dan Poole - director of the 1992 fan-made project The Green Goblin's Last Stand - emailed Cardozo asking if he could have a copy of the earlier film. Cardozo refused to send a video file online but said he would happily screen it personally at his home in California if anyone desired.[6]

Cardozo would go on to work as a visual effects artist from 1980 until his death in 2015. Included on his resume are films such as The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and uncredited work on Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

Despite renewed interest on the back of Spider-Man's great mainstream film success, this one is currently lost, with only a few, mostly behind-the-scenes screenshots still in circulation. Unlike many other fan productions, it has never surfaced as a bootleg at comic book conventions or online, and no one besides its creator has ever claimed to have a personal copy. Given that Cardozo's personal computer believed to have held his only copy of the film was reportedly destroyed, and with so little information available on who else was involved in the project, it seems increasingly unlikely that it will be found.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

All Things Lost's video on the subject.
Blameitonjorge's video which mentions Spider-Man versus Kraven the Hunter (23:44-33:57).


See Also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]