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Sincerest Form of Flattery: 5 Horror Knockoffs

The term “mockbuster” is defined by Wikipedia (the only source for accurate information…right?) as follows:

“…a movie created with the intention of piggy-backing on the publicity of a major movie with a similar title or subject or both.”

The term has clawed its way into the popular lexicon thanks in most part to The Asylum and their blatant “confuse the consumer” products such as Snakes on a Train, The Da Vinci Treasure, and When a Killer Calls. The Asylum’s first mockbuster, The War of the Worlds, wasn’t released until ’05; naturally, it coincided with the release of Stephen Spielberg’s mega-budget adaptation.

The Italians created a boon industry in the late 70s/early 80s of rehashed plots, soundalike titles, and “unofficial” sequels. There’s an upcoming doc called Remake, Remix, Rip-off (which I’m dying to see) that covers numerous Turkish “remakes” such as Turkish Star Wars. Cheap knock offs have been around as long as producers realized they could get away with it, and there are no signs of the trend slowing down. It even appears that big ol’ Hollywood could be getting into the act.

Recently, Brad took the new film, Life, to task for appearing to be an Alien clone. I’m not sure I agree with that sentiment just yet, but I also happen to be a huge fan of Alien knockoffs. B-grade riffs on Ridley Scott’s terrifying “old dark house in space” have turned in some of my favorite Corman pictures. Life is far from low budget, however. Instead, the upcoming film announced from Michael Bay sounds like a far stronger contender for this particular list: Little America is a “if they sued that other movie, they’re certainly coming for you” level take off of Escape from New York.

Now that the mini history lesson is out the way, let’s get to it. Here are 5 horrific horror ripoffs (in no particular order) that have no shame in their copycat game. (NOTE: Being labeled a “ripoff of” does not inherently make a movie bad in my opinion. I actually enjoy some of these films on a purely, brainless, B-movie level. Take of that what you will. Cheers!)


1. Offerings (1989)

Offerings

First, there was Michael Myers. Now, there is John Radley. The plot of this low budget 1989 slasher flick is…well…it’s Halloween with a few absurd additions. John is a mute who suffers verbal and possible physical abuse at home. He tortures his pets out of frustration (perhaps Rob Zombie was confused and actually thought he was remaking this film). In a terrible accident brought on by local bullies, John falls to the bottom of a well, leaving him terribly burned(?). After ten years in a comatose state, he escapes from the mental hospital to begin seeking his revenge.

Right from the jump, Offerings knows what it is and is totally okay with it. The score alternates between interesting original synth to a complete copy of Carpenter’s daunting piano notes. There’s a local professor who was “involved in the case”, but it’s never really explained what his connection is to the killer. He exists solely because, well, they needed their own Dr. Loomis. Johnny doesn’t wear a mask but sports some spiffy blue overalls to silently stalk his victims, occasionally popping out of the shadows to attack.

As cheapy-cheap as this movie is, the pace moves quickly, the kills are inventive if not terribly gory, and the finale is one big chase scene. When it comes to passable, low-grade, 80’s slasher cheese – that’s about all I could ask for.


2. Creature (1985)

Creature Attack 1985

Creature tells the tale of space geologists who make the fatal mistake of responding to a distress signal from a rival German ship. It turns out they’ve just landed themselves smack dab in the feeding grounds of a viscous, slimy, black skinned alien being. Insanity ensues! William Malone (House on Haunted Hill, Feardotcom) directs his second feature, utilizing leftover sets and props from Roger Corman’s Forbidden World (also an Alien impostor).

The truth is there are a ton of movies whose inspiration could be traced back to Ridley Scott’s seminal film (itself reportedly inspired by Bava’s Planet of the Vampires). Creature takes the intergalactic cake for one reason alone, the actual “creature” design. One look at this thing and there is no question Giger and the Xenomorph were being, let’s say, re-interpreted here.


3. Bloody Murder (2000)

Bloody Murder

You need only look at the cover for this early 2000’s video store mainstay, which somehow spawned two sequels, to tell exactly what’s getting the rip-off treatment. Yes, Friday the 13th is hardly the most original film to begin with and countless other flicks have dared to venture into a secluded campground with a masked murderer on the loose (Joe D’Amato’s Bodycount is a fun Italian take on the subgenre), but none have ever been so egregious as this. Bloody Murder‘s legendary killer is a scrawny dweeb by the name of Trevor Moorehouse who wears a hockey mask!

The filmmakers weren’t even trying on this one. I really hate to say that as no one sets out to make a terrible film, but sometimes “terrible” does happen. It’s just that in this instance, it’s hard to imagine director Ralph Potillo was really trying to create anything beyond a paycheck. Considering this came out in the post-Scream era there’s still some knowing winks and poor attempts at humor sprinkled throughout. Once the credits have rolled, the gravest sin of all, however, is Bloody Murder is bloody boring. Ay, see what I did there?


4. Demon Wind (1990)

Demon Wind

Do you love The Evil Dead? So do the filmmakers of Demon Wind! Okay, maybe that’s not entirely fair. They also seem to really love Night of the Demons, but…mostly The Evil Dead. This is a super cheese-ball flick about a group of friends who escape for a weekend away to a decrepit cabin in the middle of nowhere. They unknowingly unleash an ancient evil, a barrage of body jumping demons.

Lest you think “demons” and “cabin” are the only ED connection, may I point out a big book o’ magic and an ancient blade that may be the only saving grace for our hapless group? Demon Wind will try the patience of some while for others it may prove an amazing movie night flick to share with a group of pals. The effects are generally abysmal, but they’re gooey and repulsive enough to elicit the desired effect.

What’s better is that once you think the main cast has been whittled down, leaving scant opportunity for further bloodshed, along come another group of friends to join the party. This happens TWO TIMES! It’s as if the the writer/directer was on page 30 of his script (and subsequently page 60) and thought, “Damn. I need more people to kill. I’ve got an idea!” You’ll know if this is your bag from the trailer. If so, I highly recommend you track it down!


5. Shocking Dark/AKA Terminator II (1989)

Shocking Dark

Wow. With this movie we get a twofer. Not only is Shocking Dark a complete rip-off of James Cameron’s Aliens, it’s also an unofficial sequel to James Cameron’s Terminator. That’s right, this film was released as Terminator II in several countries. While the plot itself is pretty much all “bad ass military types must infiltrate a colony where all communications have been lost, only to discover rabid monsters dead-set on their demise.” The final act does shift gears into Terminator mode, just in time to justify that alternate title. And, boy howdy, when it does! It’s an insane amalgam of explosions, surprise robot reveals, and time travel.

The military grunts are all tough as nails archetypes copied from Cameron’s original film. For our heroine, we’re given a “scientist” as Bo-bo Ripley whose maternal instincts kick in upon discovering Bo-bo Newt. Unfortunately, she doesn’t elicit much in the way of confidence. She appears utterly perplexed and aimless in every close-up. In other words – you’ve got to see this movie!

This freshly grated Romano cheese is another Italian import from knockoff king, Bruno Mattei. This man has brought us such classics as Cruel Jaws, Hell of the Living Dead (which actually uses Dawn of the Dead’s score in places without any permission what-so-ever), and Robowar (AKA Robocop No. 2). Robowar is interesting in that, much like Shocking Dark, it’s a mashup of two different pre-existing films: it’s obvious namesake and Predator.

FYI: That terrifying, half naked, screaming man was a legit bumper. Variations of this were added to trailers released by the Japanese company, Caution Video.


Have you seen any of the knockoffs on this list? Did I not include your favorite copycat? Sound off below!

Also, I quickly wanted to thank those of you who have welcomed me to BD. I appreciate it and hope you’ve been enjoying my stuff. Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below or you can always hit me up on Twitter here.



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COMMENTS

48 Comments
  • DarkBree

    They all look terrible!!!

    Offerings’ score sounds pretty much like Halloween’s. And all the trailers look the same with people screaming all the time and some random scenes popping up. You have no idea what’s going on.

    • Saturn

      I haven’t watched Demon Wind in many,many years – but I do remember enjoying it as an obvious rip off (ahem – homage?) to The Evil Dead.
      I really must give it another spin if it ever gets a bluray release.

    • Never said the list was built off quality. 😉

      • DarkBree

        I know, just giving my opinion, nothing against your list 🙂

        • Lol None taken. I was just being “cheeky”.

  • Martin Cann

    What, no Inseminoid?

  • Rafael Fernandez

    I haven’t seen it yet, but there is ‘Alien 2: On Earth’ (1980), an Italian rip-off. Also ‘Contamination’ (1980), directed by Lucio Fulci, has exploding alien eggs that also make people explode, and a full size alien monster in the finale.

    Also, do all the cyborg-themed movies rip off ‘The Terminator’? If so, then ‘The Eliminators’ (1986) is up there, though I have no recollection of this other than the cyborg has a human torso and arms mounted on a wheeled conveyance.

    • Saturn

      Alien 2 : On Earth isn’t one of the better Italian knock offs…..
      Contamination wasn’t directed by Fulci, but by Luigi Cozzi, and was quite good fun – not a great movie, but enjoyable enough for we fans of Spaghetti Splatter!

      • ALIEN 2 is one I’ve been meaning to see. The trailer for it is pretty amazing.

        • Saturn

          If you go into it with low expectations you may enjoy it, but it’s no Zombi 2 or Cannibal Holocaust!

          • Well…what is, really?

          • The Drucifer

            Poop. Crusty white poop

        • The Drucifer

          The trailer is the best part. Fucking boring flick

          • Good to know. However, I’m a glutton for punishment via trash cinema, so I’ll probably still check it out one of these days.

          • The Drucifer

            God speed young Viking

          • Creepshow

            You certainly are. But you are missing a valuable piece on your resume….The Greasy Strangler!
            (keep your promises young man)

  • Jason Artiga

    Creature was an actually good film, with great sets, awesome minatures by Fantasy 2 effects, also the sets were designed by Robert Skotak who worked on Aliens

  • Kristoffer Groves

    You forgot Carnosaur 2. They took the script for Aliens, crossed out every “alien,” and replaced it with “raptor.”

    • Yes, and it was such a beautiful thing too. Seriously, though, Shocking Dark is way more blatant than even that.

  • The Horror Hunter

    Maalak – Bollywood elm street ripoff
    Alien vs Hunter – AvP ripoff
    House of Exorcism – The exorcist
    666 The child – The Omen
    Exorcism the possession of Gail Bowers – Emily Rose rip noff
    Halloween night – Halloween
    Haunting in Salem – Haunting in Connecticut
    Hillside cannibals – Hills have eyes
    The bell witch hunting – Blair witch project

    • gabriel

      funny list, here’s one more: Vampiyaz – Blade ripoff

  • J Jett

    hi Zach!! is this your first official article for this site? i’m happy and psyched you’re writing articles for BD now! CONGRATS man!

    great article and i have never heard of any of these and they are indeed hilarious knockoffs! 🙂

    • Creepshow

      It’s like his 5th or 6th article. Have you been playing with the time machine again Jett? : )

      • J Jett

        oh oops! my bad. i can’t believe i’ve missed/been oblivious to Zach’s other articles! either way, i’m glad he’s a contributor on the site!
        thanx for clarification, Creepshow! 🙂

        • Creepshow

          A minor side effect of time machines. XD

      • Khy

        Aww the gangs all here. The four of us are like the zombified Golden Girls.

        • Creepshow

          I look at it as…we are all a bunch of abstract characters, surrounding the bar at Cheers.

          • Evan3

            Just saying, I’ve been around about as long as the rest of you (and longer than Khy). I’ll settle for being the Frasier of this group!

        • Evan3

          What! No love for me? Evan3?!

    • Thanks a bunch, J!

  • Khy

    Bloody Murder brings back so many fun cheap ass memories.

    Don’t forget CAMP BLOOD- The 1999 Killer Klown Camp video slasher that somehow managed to spawn a series of horrible low budget sequels(and a random prequel)- three of which(4, 5, and 6) were released last year lol.

    I should make my boyfriend marathon all 7 of those shit films with me.

    • When I started writing this, I actually had Bloody Murder and Camp Blood mixed up in my head to be one horrible movie. And as far as forcing your boyfriend to watch them…Do it tomorrow. Should be a Valentine’s to remember.

    • The Drucifer

      Holy shit that’s a lot of horrible I had purged from my brain.

  • silverfishimperitrix

    It! The Terror From Beyond Space is probably a major source for Alien. Perhaps even more so than Planet Of The Vampires.

  • Si LLage

    Blood Glacier=The Thing

    • WindowsIsDead

      Blood Glacier, Harbinger Down, Leviathan, maybe you can even throw Virus in the mix and that wouldn’t be wrong, there’s a bunch

      Love all of them tho. Even Harbinger Down which I built too much expectations for and got disappointed

      • Bludy_st00l

        i was totally expecting to see harbinger down on this list…actually im just gonna swap that movie in for the terrible prequel/remake that we actually got…though id watch a “directors cut” of the thing prequel with the practical effects restored

  • Clyde Gentry III

    Can’t believe that no one has picked this, but there is one definitive ripoff movie and that would be 2007’s ZOMBIES: THE BEGINNING by Bruno Mattei. It’s a shot-for-shot (pretty much) ripoff of Aliens except he’s using zombies. The characters, scenes, dialogue…it’s all there on a shoestring budget. A few years ago it got released to DVD, along with its prequel (no, it wasn’t a ripoff of Alien), but uses the same heroine. It’s truly unbelievable, but quite funny if you’re in the right mood. And while all the movies listed here are solid nods to this or that, you have to see this one to believe it.

  • Abandoned_Being

    Wouldn’t Predator be a ripoff from Without Warning?

    • amir ezra

      The alien is also played by Kevin Peter Hall.

      • Abandoned_Being

        I’m forgotten about that until you mention it.

  • The Drucifer

    Congrats on the gig Zachary!

  • amir ezra

    This list is missing Great White (1981) and Cruel Jaws(1995). I believe Cruel Jaws is called Jaws 5 in some parts of the world.

  • amir ezra

    Since this list also mention Turkish Star Wars, then there’s also a Turkish Exorcist aka Seytan (1974). I saw a few clips on youtube, what a laugh!

  • sliceanddice

    Wither was like a remake of the evil dead remake

  • quantumbleep

    Demon Wind is notable for it’s awesome holographic VHS box art, and two “hip” dudes that just so happen to be…magicians?

  • Bran

    Watcher III being a Predator ripoff, and Alien 2: On Earth as an unofficial Italian sequel to Alien.

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