For every great film comes five others trying to replicate its success. Whether it be an R-rated superhero movie, an action blockbuster starring aging actors, a rom-com with converging storylines, or a film about terrorists taking over the White House, Hollywood loves ripping off the thing that worked last time. While oftentimes the uniqueness of the original film is what made it a hit in the first place, that doesn’t stop every film studio in the world from blatantly making their own versions of past successes.
But behind every big-budget copycat that at least tries to get it right is a film with a tiny budget, horrible effects, awful actors, and a script that can only be described as ramblings on the inside of a candy wrapper. These films are called mockbusters, and their glorious straight-to-VOD releases capitalize on one thing only: a title that’s similar enough to the movie it’s ripping off that people will accidentally watch it.
The problem with a great title though is that after the title and before the credits there needs to be at least some attempt at a movie. Well, tell that to the producers who made these films, because they didn’t get the memo. Here are 12 Hilariously Titled Ripoffs of Better Movies.
The year was 2007, and no one knew Transformers was going to be the massive box office hit that it was. No one, apparently, except mockbuster studio The Asylum, as they released Transmorphers on DVD a week before Michael Bay’s film hit theaters.
It’s an eye-squintingly brilliant title, as anyone not paying full attention would assume that this film is Transformers and would thus rent it or buy it assuming that a mistake was made in releasing it so early. However, when that person pushed play on the movie, they would’ve been treated to a strange post-apocalyptic “film” that takes 400 years in the future after giant robots forced humanity underground. So, not exactly the plot of Transformers, but at least the producers were thoughtful enough to distract you from the plot’s terrible qualities by releasing the DVD with out of sync audio and mysteriously misplaced special effects and sound effects.
11. AVH: Alien vs. Hunter
With a budget of $500,000, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter actually had more money behind it than a lot of other successful films. Where that money went on-screen, however, is a complete mystery, as this ripoff of Alien vs. Predator has not one redeeming quality throughout its entire running time. The only good thing about this film is the tagline on the movie poster, which simply reads “Battlezone Earth.” It’s something so perfectly vague that it could be mistaken for the million dollar work of a real film studio marketing team.
As for the rest of AVH, it plays out the way you’d assume based on the film it blatantly ripped off, except now Predator is for some reason a thing called Hunter. And in the end, Hunter takes off his mask and reveals that he is a human from Earth, and that the planet they’re on now isn’t Earth, but it’s kind of like Earth. Anyway, now you know. Sorry for the spoilers?
10. The Da Vinci Treasure
The smart thing about The Da Vinci Treasure isn’t the plot or the characters or anything related to the film, but it’s that the title was able to use the word “Da Vinci” without any copyright problems; and thus the film didn’t need to be called something like The Duh Vinci Treasure. Regardless, this ripoff of The Da Vinci Code feels like a duplicate of the Mona Lisa, if that duplicate was essentially just a spray-painted canvas that said “Mona Lisa or whatever.”
Following a forensic anthropologist that discovers clues and riddles inside of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous works, The Da Vinci Treasure actually makes no real attempt to copy The Da Vinci Code. Apparently, no one told the producers that while Da Vinci is in the title of the Tom Hanks starring film, it didn’t have much to do with him, and Robert Langdon certainly didn’t wander around art museums looking for clues inside paintings and sculptures. Apparently not deterred by their lack of knowledge about the film or book that they were ripping off, the producers of The Da Vinci Code eventually just said “screw it” and film turned into one big, weird, chase scene with other treasure seekers; or something like that. It’s hard to tell for sure.
9. Transmorphers: Fall of Man
You didn’t think they could do it, but they did — they made a sequel to Transmorphers, and it’s called Transmorphers: Fall of Man. Seemingly realizing the mistakes of the previous film, Fall of Man went back a few hundred years and told the story of how the world was destroyed by giant robots in the first place. As it turned out, there was really no reason; the film’s explanation was basically “Transmorphers be Transmorphin.”
Though the jury is still out on which film is less aggressively bad, Transmorphers: Fall of Man or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, at least in Revenge of the Fallen the cars looked cool when they transformed. In Fall of Man, thanks to having no budget, most of the transforming – er, transmorphing – is cut away from or just very roughly sketched out like a cartoon. But this is the price you pay for watching bad movies.
8. What’s Up? Balloon to the Rescue
If you thought mockbusters could only rip off action films, think again. This time, Pixar was the target with the amazingingly awful What’s Up? Balloon to the Rescue. Because “What’s Up” wouldn’t have been an obvious enough ripoff of Pixar’s Up, so they had to throw the word balloon in there just to make sure everyone knew what was, um, up.
Featuring what is absolutely the worst/most nightmare-inducing animation you’ll ever see, it’s actually fascinating that What’s Up even exists considering the amount of time and effort that it must have taken to make a movie this bad. Not only is the film insultingly bland and near-impossible to watch, but it’s also insanely racist in a way that only a movie that looks like a ’90s screensaver could be. If it isn’t yet clear, everything about this film is fascinating, and if you want to cringe your way through a night with some friends, you literally couldn’t make a worse choice than What’s Up.
7. The Little Panda Fighter
Clocking in at 50 minutes, The Little Panda Fighter is a ripoff of Kung-Fu Panda, but only if Kung-Fu Panda was mostly glitchy scenes of poorly-animated characters walking from one location to the next at a weird speed. If Kung-Fu Panda wasn’t that however, then The Little Panda Fighter sits in a weight-class of its own, entirely alone and abandoned; and rightfully so.
From the geniuses who brought the world What’s Up comes a film that someone somewhere thought was similar to the 2008 DreamWorks film starring Jack Black as a lovable panda. Originally titled Heavy’s Little Bear – which literally means nothing – The Little Panda Fighter follows a panda called Pancada as he lifelessly recreates the events from Kung-Fu Panda until the credits mercifully roll. Except, the credits in this film are blurry and look like they were made in Microsoft Paint. But, again, what were you expecting?
6. Metal Man
Part man. Part machine. All hero. This is the tagline for 2008’s Metal Man, a film that hopefully no one confused with Iron Man, because that would be a tragedy. Not to be confused with DC’s Metal Men film that was once in production with Barry Sonnenfeld set to direct, Metal Man is sometimes titled Iron Hero, but no matter which way you cut it, the synopsis on the back of the DVD case discusses a character that doesn’t even appear in the film; so how’s that for getting off to a good start?
Featuring character design that looks more like a cardboard Halloween costume than anything resembling Robert Downey Jr.’s Marvel hero, Metal Man has ninjas and robots and a battle between good and evil, just to ensure that at least something would stick with an audience. And while there’s nothing of worth in this entire film, the funny thing about it is that it took three writers credited with the screenplay to copy Iron Man and not even accidentally include one enjoyable element.
5. Almighty Thor
The producers of Almighty Thor got lucky here, considering that Thor is a norse god and thus can’t be copyrighted. But boy, imagine all the people that saw Almighty Thor and thought that it sounded like the cooler version of a lame film simply titled Thor. If you’re imagining them right now, you can see how they were all severely disappointed by the lack of Chris Hemsworth being surprisingly funny or Tom Hiddleston’s Loki being the meme that defined a generation.
While Almighty Thor actually got a premiere date on Syfy and thus viewers tuning in, curious to see if this was the real Thor, it would be hard to be fooled by this film, considering its insistence on not showing anything interesting. Rather than copying the mythology or humor or action of Marvel’s Thor, Almighty Thor copied nothing, instead focusing on a poorly costumed guy with a bad haircut trying to find his hammer. Also, Richard Grieco, one-time star of 21 Jump Street, starred as Loki, and that’s really all there is to say about that.
4. Atlantic Rim
If you’re wondering why these films always aim to ripoff the highest-budget films ever made, keep wondering, because with Atlantic Rim, The Asylum threw $500,000 at a few people in attempt to copy the $190 million Pacific Rim. With the laughable effects and terrible acting that these films are known for, Atlantic Rim turned the spectacle of Pacific Rim into a messy mash of pixels and boredom.
Perhaps hewing closer to its source material than any film on this list, Atlantic Rim differs from Pacific Rim in the exact way you’d imagine; it takes place in the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Pacific. Robots fight monsters, cities are destroyed, a monster gets kicked into space, and the hero celebrates at the end of the movie by getting tequila shots. What else can you ask for? A good movie? You’re reading the wrong list.
3. Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls
Can we all just bask in the glory of this title? Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls. It’s perfect on so many levels. First is the fact that even though Allan Quatermain is an established fictional character, we all know that he’s really meant to be Indiana Jones here. Also, the Temple of Skulls is just a mashup of two Indiana Jones titles: Temple of Doom and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So in this film we’ve got Allan Quatermain, presumably doing some stuff and ending up in a temple, and the temple in question most likely has some skulls in there. Following along so far?
Ripping off Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is no easy feat, and considering the frosty reception of that film, it almost seems like, on paper, Allan Quatermain has it beat based on title alone. For one thing Allan Quatermain didn’t have the fabled refrigerator nuke scene that Indy had. There were also no aliens. But everything else about it was the literal worst, so even Spielberg’s worst effort beats this one out by a mile.
2. Snakes on a Train
Making a B-Movie out of a film that is already meant to be a B-Movie is no easy task. But when the people behind Snakes on a Train figured that train rhymed with plane and that a train was also a fast-moving, enclosed method of transportation of which snakes could conceivably be in, they ran with it. And it’s just as good as Snakes on a Plane, although with significantly less Samuel L. Jackson.
Released three days before Snakes on a Plane, Snakes on a Train takes a decidedly more offbeat approach by having the titular snakes appear due to a Mayan curse. And they don’t just appear, they go from snake eggs inside a woman’s stomach to full-grown snakes eating their way out in a matter of seconds. From there, she decides to take the snakes on a train – because why not – and gets attacked by bandits, which obviously leads the snakes to escape and thus there are now motherf***ing snakes on this mother***ing train. Although, yeah, train doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
1. Paranormal Entity
To make a low budget film copying one of the most successful low-budget films of all time is no easy task, and it’s a task that was once again (not) pulled off by The Asylum. Ripping off Paranormal Activity by changing a few letters in the title, Paranormal Entity is exactly what you’d think it is; shaky footage of doors slamming.
But while Paranormal Activity scared and thrilled audiences due to tight direction and believable acting, Paranormal Entity doesn’t even attempt to scare or innovate, it simply exists. Without the laughs that come from watching a poorly-made film attempt to do something ambitious – like destroy a city – all there is to see in Paranormal Entity is a poorly-made film attempt to do something that they could conceivably do if they tried. But they don’t try. No one tries in this film. In fact, on the official Asylum website, every credit for this film is listed as N/A, which is probably for the best.
Which of these films are so bad that you can’t look away? Which can you definitely look away from? Let us know in the comments!
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