Mockbusters are not a current phenomenon. The trend began back in the 1960s when Godzilla was ripped-off into Gamera and went on the decades to come. What is sometimes assumed as a basis for inspiration comes straight-up mockery when filmmakers and producers take a movie’s premise and twist it in a way that it becomes something novel, but only remotely. It’s awful, really. Shameless, even, when mockbusters crank out the most appalling storylines with low-production value, terrible casting, almost non-existent voice editing, and atrocious special effects.
Because sometimes, imitation is not as sincere as flattery. B-movies are simply trying to piggyback the success and profits of an original movie. While some studios like Disney have voiced their concerns around the trend of mockbusters and sued the creators, others simply escape the scene because at the end of the day, these movies are only trying to cash in laughs.
Movies like The Da Vinci Treasure, Ratatouing, or Android Cop are actually pretty harmless. If you ignore the timing of their releases, these B-movies would gain nothing out of the audience. There’s a reason why most of these movies go straight to DVD. Plus their packaging is usually a copycat of the original movie’s poster design. Which is why the opportunist ideas from small production companies only succeed in riding the coattail of the major blockbusters for a short span of time.
While most of the movies on this list are cheap shots and winning with their narratives, some may end up being your guilty pleasures for when you’re looking for something that doesn’t make sense and it is so bad it’s hilarious. So, without further ado, let’s dive in and explore the sheer atrocity of these movies and their amusing efforts to retain the viewership of major hits. Cue the most shameless mockbusters of all time!
10 Atlantic Rim (2013)
Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim was a fair success upon its release. And around the same time came its knock-off, Atlantic Rim. The movie features sea monsters devastating the Atlantic Ocean, and in an attempt to stop them and defend the East Coast, three robots monitored by humans are dispatched. The three pilots are insanely disturbing, with their terrifying military skills and an understanding of a toddler. The acting is terrible, non-existent even; the movie also has poor dialogue writing, and the characters just talk for really long, and nothing else changes on screen. Overall, the movie is really transparent in its ridicule.
9 Bound (2015)
Despite eventually losing its footing in the later installments, the movie adaptation of E. L. James’ book had garnered popularity and expectations from both moviegoers and readers. Bound was released around a month before Fifty Shades of Grey, very much trying to benefit from the anticipation. The movie is centered around Michelle, a real estate broker, who gets into a submissive relationship with Ryan, who is much younger than her. The movie is an excellent mockery on the genre and storyline. Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, leads the movie, but unsuccessfully, making this another one of her failed shots in the industry.
8 Sunday School Musical (2008)
Almost two years after the original movie and the same year as the sequel, The Asylum, which is known as one of the biggest manufacturers of low-budget mockbusters, released Sunday School Musical. The same setting as High School Musical, except instead of high school, we get Sunday school, and a church choir enters a song and dance competition to raise funds so the church doesn’t go bankrupt. Sunday School Musical feels like following a school project, messy and under planned in places, with a greater part of it immersing in teenage angst resulting from growing up and moving away from your friends and the pressure of competing and ultimately winning. They call it the Christian version of High School Musical, and on the front, it stays honest.
7 Rise of the Black Bat (2012)
Justice isn’t blind anymore. That’s the central message of the movie. Rise of the Black Bat sees Tony Quinn as a victim of an experiment-gone-wrong, with him ending up blind. For some reason, Quinn decides to pose as Black Bat, a superhero who takes down criminals, a savior by night. The movie posters feature shots from The Dark Knight Rises in a way that is misleading for many audiences – the mask and cape, the flashy bike. But the movie is unbearably bad. The camera work is unsteady, and the sound editing is almost nil. Overall, the movie seems like a cheap mix of Batman and Daredevil, with it ruining the central aspects of both franchises.
6 AvH: Alien vs. Hunter (2007)
AvH: Alien vs. Hunter was released a week before the much anticipated 20th Century Fox sequel to the science-fiction thriller Alien vs. Predator. The plot goes like this – an extraterrestrial spacecraft lands on Earth and releases a bunch of savage and predatory aliens who start a killing spree on the planet. There’s also a galactic hunter who has a beef with the aliens. The Greatest American Hero’s William Katt plays the journalist witnessing everything in motion. Taking a lot of elements from Fox’s original but making it worse, AvH uses bad special effects, unreasonable action scenes, and completely destroys the script. However, it you’re looking for a truckload of laughs, it can be a fun watch with friends.
5 Snakes on a Train (2006)
It’s not like the original Snakes on a Plane was a hit either. Creating a B-movie out of a vacant plot and enthusiastic action and switching the location to a train is not creativity; it’s a willful mishap. The Asylum production Snakes on a Train follows a cursed woman who boards a train to see a Mayan shaman and heal her ghastly condition. But on her way to LA, the snakes residing in her body rid themselves and started attacking the passengers. With a considerable amount of gore, the movie is distressing. We even see the woman’s metamorphosis into a snake. The movie also has inconsistent pacing and set pieces that barely look like a train and CGI snakes that are all rattlers.
4 Transmorphers (2007)
Michael Bay’s Transformers grossed pretty well, leading the director to create four more installments in the franchise. Transmorphers, as shamelessly told as it is titled, is set 400 years ahead of time, in a post-apocalyptic future, where robots have occupied Earth and are wreaking havoc. As a superior force, they enslave humans and even drive them to camp underground. While sci-fi fans may accidentally stumble on the movie and expect some robot action, the movie barely features the electromechanical bodies for fifteen minutes. The editing and special effects are so substandard; they seem to have been done with the help of YouTube tutorials. It is surprising how the studio even released a prequel titled Transmorphers: Fall of Man to dive deeper into the story.
3 Paranormal Entity (2009)
Released as an attempt to benefit from the anticipation and promotion of Paranormal Activity, the movie takes a rather unsettling and nauseating take on horror. Paranormal Entity is a found-footage film surrounding Samatha Finley and her family. The family believes that they are haunted by a supernatural being, and when they try to investigate the matter and look for answers, what they find is grim and appalling. Being a found-footage film, one cannot expect the video quality to be good anyway. But the movie turn’s the original movie’s theme into something more sinister and violent. However, horror fans still consider it pretty good in delivering the scares, especially for a rip-off.
Kyle Finn is part man, part machine, all hero. That’s how the movie introduces Metal Man, an unashamed rip-off of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first and among the most popular movie Iron Man. The movie dropped almost half a year after Robert Downey Jr. introduced the world to the iconic hero and his iron suit. The plot is basic – Finn is an ordinary man who dons a metal suit and fights for the good. He battles ninjas (yes) and his enemy Reed. There is nothing exceptional about the special effects or the dialogue in the film either, and even the metal suit which is supposed to be the highlight of the movie, looks like a Halloween costume. It is as ignorant as they come.
1 Almighty Thor (2011)
Another rip-off of Marvel’s original superhero movie, Almighty Thor blatantly twists the original’s plot into something entirely unwatchable. The movie’s attempt to bank the success of Marvel had the right timing because the studio was thriving with the results. As such, the mockbuster revolves around the God of Thunder as a young warrior fighting Loki, the god of deception, after annihilating the city of Valhalla and running off with the Hammer of Invincibility. The movie depicts Thor in the stupidest ways, and not the kind that Marvel wins laughs from. It also includes nonsensical elements like the Tree of Inventory and a trip to Hell, none of which help elevate the status of the movie. We recommend it only if you’re a fan of cringe worthy content.