Originally a low-budget production and distribution company specializing in horror and imported ripoffs, FVI was started in 1968 by Edward Montoro. The company operated at a profit until around 1980 when FVI imported, distributed, and heavily promoted the film Great White, a near-blatant ripoff of Jaws. Unlike other mockbusters of the day, Great White was similar enough to the movie it imitated that Universal studios sued FVI on the grounds of plagiarism, seeking to have distribution of the film halted entirely. The suit was successful, and Great White was pulled from all U.S. theaters less than a week after it had opened. The decision was a massive financial loss to FVI, which had spent more than $4 million on advertising and promotion of the film. Great White later became a RiffTrax presentation (as had Jaws) under its alternate title The Last Shark.
FVI's financial difficulties worsened from 1980 on, reaching their peak in 1984 when Edward Montoro's wife filed for divorce, entitling her to half of the company's worth. Unable or unwilling to pay, Montoro embezzled roughly $1 million from the company and fled the country. To date, Montoro's whereabouts are unknown. FVI filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1985, and the company was shut down entirely, though not before releasing its last two films, Torchlight (as a distributor) and City Limits (as a producer).
After bankruptcy, FVI was purchased by INI Entertainment Group, a small TV syndicator seeking to trade on FVI's name. Beginning in 1987, the new FVI got into the legally questionable practice of acquiring the rights to show clips of movies, and then using "clips" which consisted of the movies almost in their entirety with the "FVI treatment"—replacing the music, releasing them under new titles with new opening credits sequences—and then claiming the copyright to those elements. Many of these "FVI-retitled" films were subsequently shown on MST3K.
List of FVI movies shown on MST3K
- Episode 213 - Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
- Episode 301 - Cave Dwellers (original title: Ator, the Invincible 2 or Ator, the Blade Master)
- Episode 303 - Pod People (original title: Extra Terrestrial Visitors)
- Episode 305 - Stranded in Space (original title: The Stranger)
- Episode 322 - Master Ninja I (original title: The Master)
- Episode 324 - Master Ninja II (original title: The Master)
- Episode 401 - Space Travelers (original title: Marooned)
- Episode 403 - City Limits
- Episode 405 - Being from Another Planet (original title: Time Walker)
Films distributed by FVI which were used on MST3K always had a new, distinctive (and low-quality) title sequence. These FVI title sequences are easily recognized as they all have the same elements: framerate stutter or freeze-frames, pixelization, and posterization. In almost all cases the title sequence uses footage from a completely unrelated source as a background, be it another movie, stock footage, or even a stock rendering.
The low-budget appearance of FVI title and credit sequences did not escape the notice of the MST3K crew, and a large number of riffs are aimed at the sequences. Episode 301, Cave Dwellers, even features a host segment where Joel and the Bots try to recreate the film's title sequence, and inadvertently wind up creating one that has more relation to the film than what was actually distributed with it.
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
The title sequence uses footage from the 1967 film Son of Godzilla. The footage switches between appearing in full frame and being surrounded by a solid red border.
This particular title sequence is notable for containing a much more lengthy copyright notice from FVI, laying out their somewhat dubious claim of rights to the film. It reads: "© Copyright in video, music, editing, special effects, packaging, and design. Film Ventures International Inc. 1990".
The bottom half of the screen is cut off, displaying only a black background upon which the credits are shown. The top half of the screen and the end credits use footage from the 1960 Italian fantasy film Taur, the Mighty.
Stranded in Space
The opening credits use footage from the 1983 South African film Prisoners of the Lost Universe in the background. The latter film was also riffed by RiffTrax.
Master Ninja I & II
Both films use an orange background, behind which inverted color footage of unidentified martial arts practice can be seen through a moving circular opening. The footage does not come from any film, but rather appears to come from an amateur recording filmed at a martial arts training center. Additional credits are displayed during the film by displaying a posterized freeze-frame with the appropriate text overlaid over it, which appears to have been done using a home VCR judging by the frame distortion that occurs when it happens.
The background "footage" is just a looping 3D animation of a rotating sphere with the standard filters applied.
Unlike every other FVI title sequence, the title for the film is simply red text displayed on a black background, which cuts immediately to the film. The rest of the opening credits are displayed as the additional credits in Master Ninja: a short posterized freeze-frame during the beginning of the movie with the appropriate text overlaid.
Of note: the ending credits use pixel-stutter-posterized footage from the actual film itself, rather than from an unrelated film. This is the only FVI release which uses the actual film's footage for any credits sequence. Coincidentally, City Limits was one of the last films produced by FVI prior to the company going out of business and subsequently being purchased by INI.
Being from Another Planet
The title sequence uses stock or archival footage of various Egyptian artifacts, bizarrely including what appears to be an image from an MRI cross-section of a mummy. This title sequence is also notable for replacing the film's opening scene without replacing the corresponding soundtrack, letting the viewers hear a conversation between two characters made highly confusing as there is no indication of what they are discussing.
"FVI treatment" versions of Gamera vs Barugon and Gunslinger also exist, but those versions were not shown on MST. FVI also put together a third Master Ninja "movie", which was briefly announced as the Season 6 finale. However, Master Ninja III was eventually replaced with Samson vs. the Vampire Women, most likely because the Brains had decided to show a Mexican wresting movie as a "going-away present" for Frank Conniff, a fan of that genre.
- The Search for FVI/INI at MST3K: The Discussion Board