There’s a belief that Hollywood has lost its sense of originality, and there’s not one single original idea in film today. Truth be told, this isn’t a new phenomena and it’s been happening for decades already.
Surf through any online streaming service and you’ll struggle to find a single movie that hasn’t been influenced by another that came before it. After all, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right?
Discussing originality, director Jim Jarmusch once said, “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.'”
While that’s all good and dandy, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to something that’s blatantly a copycat. Really, if you’re going to copy someone else’s homework, at least change the name and a few words here and there. In some cases, though, the movies are so identical that you struggle to differentiate them.
As such, we’ve identified some motion pictures that played the imitation game a little too well – it doesn’t mean they’re dreadful films by any means, but they’re definitely not as good as the originals.
With that said, here are the 17 Movies That Shamelessly Ripped Off Better Ones.
17. The Fast And The Furious ripped off Point Break
Keep in mind that we’re discussing better movies and not more successful ones. Otherwise, this entry would be the other way around. Even if the original Point Break is a great movie, The Fast and the Furious has murdered it at the box office.
You might wonder how these movies are even alike, since one is about surfing and the other is all about souped-up cars, but the plot is identical. Think about it: an undercover cop infiltrates a suspected criminal organization, ends up befriending the thug, and doesn’t take him in at the end. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Unlike The Fast and the Furious, though, Point Break stopped after the first movie.
16. Friday The 13th ripped off Halloween
The whole slasher genre has been butchered to death (pardon the pun). There are so many masked killers in horror movies that it gets hard to pinpoint exactly which came first. In the case of 1978’s Halloween, it’s often cited as the film that kick-started the genre – even if Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is technically the father of slashers.
Two years later, a new killer appeared on the block: Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th. Much like Michael Myers, Jason was an unstoppable force of nature who couldn’t be killed. He lurked around every corner and claimed teenage deaths like they were free hotdogs.
15. Justice League ripped off The Avengers
Now, before the storm hits the comments section, we need to take into account two things: the Zack Snyder cut and Joss Whedon’s mangling of Justice League. It’s no secret that the Snyder version of the movie is totally different from what we received, as a typical Marvel movie just isn’t his style.
Unfortunately, with Whedon involved, you could smell the stench of The Avengers all over this movie.
From the music to the recycled jokes, the formula was on parade for everyone to witness.
That isn’t to say that Justice League was a bad movie, because it was plagued by so many problems that it’s surprising we even got a film at the end of the day. The thing is, we’d seen it all five years earlier.
14. The Secret Life Of Pets ripped off Toy Story
Let’s get one thing straight here: The Secret Life of Pets is a cinematic masterpiece. Any movie that features our four-legged friends is great in our books, and we will not tolerate any debate about this. That said, it’s evident that the story is strikingly similar to Toy Story‘s and lifts many of its beats.
Well, if you’re going to copy something, we say you might as well look to a picture that was nominated for countless awards, including a few Oscars. Toy Story not only changed the animation landscape, but the film industry as a whole, too.
13. Repo Men ripped off Repo! The Genetic Opera
Not a lot of people remember 2010’s sci-fi thriller Repo Men starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker. It flopped spectacularly at the box office, too, even though its concept of a futuristic, dark world where people buy artificial organs sounded rather original.
The problem was that it was far from novel. Repo Men scraped the base idea of Repo! The Generic Opera to make a non-musical version of the same concept.
The similarities between the two productions are so obvious that you wonder how someone didn’t file a lawsuit because of it.
Ultimately, justice was served as Repo! The Genetic Opera gained a cult following akin to The Rocky Horror Picture Show over the years, while Repo Men has been confined to the bargain bins of Walmart.
12. The Roommate ripped off Single White Female
Does anyone actually remember The Roommate? You know, that movie with Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester? Probably the biggest reason you don’t remember this psychological thriller is because it’s a total rehash of the more successful Single White Female. In fact, it’s often cited as an uncredited remake.
While Single White Female actually struck fear into you and made you question whom you room with, The Roommate felt like two Valley girls getting into a squabble about a guy’s abs. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the film holds a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Meester doesn’t seem to be a big fan of the film, either, describing the experience to HitFix as “kind of like the flu. You have it and eventually it goes away, but it definitely touches you for a bit.”
11. House of 1000 Corpses ripped off The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
When Rob Zombie released House of 1000 Corpses, he wasn’t shy of admitting he’d been inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.
Speaking about the former to Rolling Stone, Zombie said, ” I still remember that moment in 1974 when Massacre entered my world. I was nine years old and having a friend from school sleep over my house. We were watching television when suddenly it happened: a commercial for the movie that would change my life came onscreen. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
The influence, though, is littered all over House of 1000 Corpses – from its hacktastic plot to wacky characters.
10. Mac And Me ripped off E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
If you haven’t seen Mac and Me, count yourself extremely lucky. It’s the culmination of every bad studio executive idea in 99 minutes. We’d go as far as saying it’s probably one of the worst movies of all time – and you have E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to thank for it.
After the success of Steve Spielberg’s E.T., studios went gaga over the possibility of new alien movies. No longer were outer-space creatures seen purely as threatening or malevolent, but there was also the possibility to tell stories about friendship and belonging. Naturally, everyone jumped at the chance to create the next big buddy-alien movie.
9. Lockout ripped off Escape From New York
When 2012’s Lockout, starring Guy Pierce and Maggie Grace, was released, many people noticed the likenesses between it and 1981’s cult classic Escape from New York. It wasn’t only the fans who picked up the scary similarities, though.
Eventually, the latter’s director/writer John Carpenter sought out legal assistance for what he deemed plagiarism.
After a back-and-forth case that involved Luc Besson appealing the original ruling, a Paris appeals court ruled that Besson pay more than $500,000 in damages to Carpenter and rights holder StudioCanal for plagiarizing Escape from New York. As a side note: Carpenter’s original lawsuit sought $2.4 million in damages, claiming that the movie was copied.
8. The Quest ripped off Bloodsport
Look, in all fairness, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Jean-Claude Van Damme in every movie he’s in, so it’s a little difficult to figure out if he’s ripping off his own movies. In the case of The Quest and its martial arts competition plot, it’s so similar to Bloodsport that you can smell the (ahem) blood.
By the time The Quest came out in 1996, we’d already seen so many versions of Bloodsport that no one was surprised to see another one produced. Sure, JCVD’s rabid fanbase turned up in droves to watch this action flick, but can it compare to the legacy of his previous movies?
On a positive note, though, the two good things about The Quest were the appearances of James Remar and the late Roger Moore in the movie. It’s always a treat to see actors of that caliber pop up in cheesy action movies.
7. Critters ripped off Gremlins
Gremlins was a once-in-a-lifetime movie. Finding the perfect balance between horror and comedy, it has a rewatchable quality that most films could only dream of. Plus, it featured Stripe – one of the most meme-worthy characters in popular culture.
It didn’t take long for another franchise about nasty, little creatures to rear its head.
So in 1986, Critters was released only two years after the release of Gremlins.
Even though it’s believed that the movie was inspired by the Joe Dante classic, director Stephen Herek disputes this, saying that the script was written long before Gremlins went into production and underwent several rewrites to reduce similarities.
6. Piranha ripped off Jaws
What Steven Spielberg did with Jaws was to ensure that a generation would be terrified of oceans and sharks. That single movie alone created a new, real-life threat to strike fear into the hearts of people everywhere – even though Shark Tale tried its best to show us that sharks aren’t such bad guys.
As expected, the copies swam to shore, with 1978’s Piranha being a complete knockoff of Spielberg’s masterpiece. Director Joe Dante didn’t hide it for one second, wearing his influence on his sleeve and knowing full well that this was far from an original concept. What he did achieve, though, was to create the perfect prototype for a satirical, B-movie horror.
5. Life ripped off Alien
The internet’s theory that 2017’s Life was actually a prequel for Venom was a convincing argument. In fact, it would’ve been one of the greatest marketing tricks ever and undoubtedly raised the box-office draw for the film. Unfortunately, it wasn’t; Life was just another alien-in-space movie.
While it entertained in good doses, the formula proved to be tiresome.
Even the jump scares felt like they were pulled straight out of the Alien movies and not one single person thought this was a unique concept. Looking at the lackluster response to Alien: Covenant, which arrived later that year, it emphasizes that the audience has grown weary of this trope.
4. Sudden Death ripped off Die Hard
Oh, look. Another Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Sorry to say, JCVD fans, but most of his movies were rip-offs of other action flicks. The year 1995’s Sudden Death, in particular, is a carbon copy of Bruce Willis’ Die Hard – minus Hans Gruber (although, Powers Boothe’s Joshua Foss was a decent bad guy, too) but filled with just as many one-liners.
Karen Elise Barnard, who conceived Sudden Death‘s story and is the wife of Pittsburgh Penguins then-owner Howard Baldwin, isn’t shy to admit the cheesiness of it all.
“When you look at movies in the 1990s, you could get away with a certain amount of camp, quippy one-liners, that sort of thing,” she said in an interview with The Hockey News.
3. White House Down ripped off Olympus Has Fallen
In 2013, Hollywood released two “save the president” movies a few months from each other. Olympus Has Fallen was released in March while White House Down dropped in July. Weirdly enough, even to this day, we mix these movies up since the marketing material looked so similar, too.
Olympus Has Fallen proved to be the better movie, however, as it allowed Gerard Butler to grunt and grimace his way through it. That said, Jamie Foxx did his best to carry White House Down, even if he looked equally perplexed as to why Channing Tatum was protecting him and not the other way around.
In the case of both these movies, it looks like a clever agent spotted an opportunity to sell the same idea to two different studios.
2. Universal Soldier ripped off The Terminator
Not only did The Terminator solidify Arnold Schwarzenegger as a leading action star and launch James Cameron’s directing career, but it’s also been preserved by the National Film Registry. In other words, it’s a pretty big deal and one of the biggest films of all time.
Naturally, a similar sci-fi action flick named Universal Soldier was released in 1992, starring – you guessed it – Jean-Claude Van Damme. At the time, it was dismissed as a Terminator 2 clone, but it built up a cult following in the years after and became its own franchise.
It’s safe to say that Universal Soldier‘s sequels have fared far better than The Terminator‘s. As such, we’re not surprised that Cameron and Tim Miller will be treating the new 2019 movie as the direct sequel to Terminator 2 and ignoring everything else.
1. Wishmaster ripped off A Nightmare On Elm Street
What do you do when the horror audience has grown tired of Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger? You cast Englund in another horror franchise, of course. The year 1997’s Wishmaster was the movie that let Englund breathe without all the Freddy makeup and not be a bad guy for once, electing to cast Andrew Divoff as the Djinn instead.
However, the structure of the whole movie could’ve been straight from a cancelled script for A Nightmare on Elm Street sequel.
Nothing was sacred in ’90s horror and we saw the likes of strange films such as Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and Jason Goes to Hell produced, so no one would’ve batted an eyelid if Wishmaster was somehow canon.
Even so, Wishmaster received another three sequels, so it did okay for itself in retrospect.
Do you know any other movies that rip off more successful ones? Let us know in the comments section!
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