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Mockbusters: Ripping Off a Theater Near You!


So-called "mockbusters" are unabashed knockoffs of major theatrical releases that go straight to video a few weeks before the "blockbuster" movie is scheduled to hit theaters -- presumably in order to confuse the elderly and the not-so media savvy into thinking they're renting the "real" film. The main culprit is The Asylum, a gleeful repeat offender. All of these films have the same faults: low budget, poor sound, bad actors, lame dialogue, continuity issues -- need I continue? But on some level, the straight-faced earnestness of it all lends a camp appeal that feeds our morbid curiosity for train-wreck cinema.

666: The Child

666: The Child DVD horror movie
© The Asylum

Rips Off: The Omen

Familiar Plot: A couple begins to suspect that their new child is the son of Satan.

Synopsis: A Los Angeles newscaster and her cameraman husband adopt a boy who's the lone survivor of a plane crash. Some might take this as a bad "omen," but not this thickheaded couple. Even when a series of deadly "accidents" strikes people who ruffle the kid's feathers or when a mysterious nanny named Lucy Fir (!) shows up, they don't take the hint. Of course, DK (Devil's Kid) is no rocket scientist himself. I mean, what evil scheme for world domination involves getting adopted by a reporter and a cameraman?

AVH: Alien vs. Hunter

AVH: Alien vs. Hunter DVD horror movie
© The Asylum

Rips Off: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

Familiar Plot: A preda -- er, "hunter" -- from another world stalks an alien that crash-lands on Earth.

Synopsis: At least this one has semi-recognizable stars: William "Greatest American Hero" Katt and Dedee "Michelle's Sister" Pfeiffer. Katt plays a reporter who stumbles upon a space ship carrying a spider-like alien. (The movie's budget allows for only one alien; not exactly a global threat.) It doesn't kill him because he hides in...his impregnable Honda CRV? The hunter, meanwhile, looks like the love child of a Storm Trooper and Twiggy from Buck Rogers. Although he can turn himself invisible (with a wrist device, of course), he's so inept that he never even kills the alien; the humans do.

Are You Scared

Are You Scared DVD horror movie
© Lions Gate

Rips Off: Saw

Familiar Plot: A group of people wake up in an abandoned warehouse only to discover that they're part of a sadistic "game" that they must win in order to stay alive.

Synopsis: A killer lures some simple-minded teens with the promise of starring in a reality show, but he ends up testing them with a series of life-and-death games that he introduces via an intercom with mumbo-jumbo philosophizing like, "In order to get what you want, you have to suffer." The games turn out to be derivative or just plain dull -- like walking across broken glass in your bare feet. That's not torture; that's a circus trick. Still, this is actually one of the better knockoffs, probably because it wasn't made by the folks at The Asylum.

Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers

The Exorcism of Emily Rose DVD horror movie
© The Asylum

Rips Off: The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Familiar Plot: A teenage girl is possessed by a demon. Nastiness ensues.

Synopsis: Actually taking as much from The Exorcist as it does from Emily Rose (It claims to be inspired by the events that inspired The Exorcist.), Exorcism follows Gail as she moves in with her sister and brother-in-law after the deaths of her parents. It soon becomes clear, though, that the new house is already occupied...by a potty-mouthed spirit. Gail becomes possessed and makes a pass at her sister's husband, attacks her sister and, of course, levitates while speaking fluent Latin. The requisite exorcism must be performed by the requisite disillusioned priest who's tormented from the requisite death of a previous subject.

Halloween Night

Halloween Night DVD horror movie
© The Asylum

Rips Off: Halloween

Familiar Plot: A man who's been incarcerated in a mental hospital since he was a child escapes on Halloween, dons a mask and returns to his childhood home.

Synopsis: As a child, Chris Vale witnessed his mother's murder and after being severely burned during the crime, he goes crazy and is institutionalized. Ten years later, he escapes and heads home, leaving a trail of bodies -- and common sense -- in his wake. When he arrives, there's a Halloween party going on full of future murder victims who make his homecoming a night to dismember. The movie claims to be based on true events, but the "true" portion is just that the producer once threw a Halloween party at the time that a prisoner escaped from a mental hospital.

Hillside Cannibals

Hillside Cannibals DVD horror movie
© The Asylum

Rips Off: The Hills Have Eyes

Familiar Plot: A group of people in the desert run into a family of inbred cannibals.

Synopsis: Some youngsters go spelunking in the desert, making sure to bring the essentials: beer, Jägermeister and weed. They're attacked by cave-dwelling cannibals, who kill most of the group, capture one guy, tie him up and kind of poke at him. Very annoying. Another girl manages to evade capture by apparently slipping through a worm hole, because she somehow ends up in a forest. Much of the film is taken up by the gibberish-speaking cannibals in what feels like Quest for Fire as written by Bobcat Goldthwait. In the end, there's little hope for either the characters or the viewers.

The Hitchhiker

The Hitchhiker DVD horror movie
© The Asylum

Rips Off: The Hitcher

Familiar Plot: A murderous hitchhiker stalks victims along a desert highway.

Synopsis: Four ditzy ladies on a trip to Las Vegas pick up a hitchhiker based on the only deductive reasoning they can muster -- i.e., he's "hot." Strike 1. When their car breaks down, they allow him to spend the night with them at a motel. Strike 2. They then accept his offer of drinks. Strike 3; you're dead. By the next morning, he's killed the desk clerk and tied up the girls. After some dim-witted cat-and-mouse games, the police show up and engage the hitcher in a shootout. The girls take the opportunity to jump into the cop car and take off, not caring that the cops were using it as a shield. Sorry, policemen, you're, like, dead and stuff.

I Am Omega

I Am Omega DVD horror movie
© The Asylum

Rips Off: I Am Legend

Familiar Plot: In a world overrun by plague-infected mutants, the last man on Earth struggles for survival.

Synopsis: Unlike the Will Smith film, our hero, Richard (Mark "Iron Chef" Dacascos), lives in the country (New York being too expensive to film) in a house with way too many un-barricaded windows, drives a crappy car and knows kung-fu. Also, the mutants come out in daylight but have an aversion to salt water and bullets to the head. A woman who's immune to the virus contacts Richard via the Internet (which still works?) to ask for his help. He agrees, but their brilliant choice of vehicle to protect them against the mutant hordes is a convertible. (Luckily, the mutants attack in packs of five or less.)

Invasion of the Pod People

Invasion of the Pod People DVD horror movie
© The Asylum

Rips Off: The Invasion

Familiar Plot:Aliens produce clones of humans in order to conquer Earth.

Synopsis: Like Omega, this is an adaptation of an older work that just "happens" to come out around the time of a major theatrical adaptation of the same work. In this film, alien plants (actually just ginger roots) somehow "grow" clones. Wouldn't people notice if weird potted plants suddenly show up in their homes? In typical Asylum high-minded fashion, the aliens target the strategic locale of a modeling agency and apparently have the cunning game plan of turning the models into lesbians. Other than that, it's just a series of people asking each other, "How do I know it's you?"


Monster DVD horror movie
© The Asylum

Rips Off: Cloverfield

Familiar Plot: "Found" video footage of a giant sea monster attacking a city.

Synopsis: Two sisters disappear while traveling to Tokyo to film a documentary. The official story is that a 7.8 earthquake hit, but their footage reveals that a giant creature attacked the city. Most scenes focus on people's reactions rather than on the actual attack. When anything interesting happens, the picture goes fuzzy or turns off completely due to convenient "tape damage." The action takes place over the course of three excruciatingly dull days, during which time we occasionally see a stray tentacle, but mostly we suffer through the sisters' incessant blubbering. There's such a thing as being too realistic.

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