CLOSE

20 Mockbusters You Might Confuse for the Real Movie

When there’s massive hype and anticipation for a major release, sometimes smaller studios try to cash in, piggy-backing off the blockbuster’s success with their own low-budget versions. With the advent of online video streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, these “mockbusters” have been on the rise for the past 10 years. Here are 20 knock-off movies that you might confuse for the real deal (if you squint real hard).

1. Frozen Land

Following Disney’s Frozen, Phase Four Films released the animated film Frozen Land. Originally titled The Legend of Sarila, the film distributors re-branded the French Canadian movie's artwork and logo to mimic Disney’s wildly popular family film for its home video release in late November (around the same time Disney released Frozen). In fact, The Legend of Sarila was released theatrically in Canada under its original title in February 2013. Disney eventually sued Phase Four Films for intentionally misleading the public.

2. Atlantic Rim

Released a few days before Pacific Rim hit theaters, The Asylum (you'll be seeing that name a lot in this list) released Atlantic Rim on DVD. The low-budget film featured almost the same premise as its major studio counterpart, but took place in New York City instead of Hong Kong. Atlantic Rim boasted a $500,000 production budget as compared to Pacific Rim’s $190 million. The mockbuster also featured ex-Baywatch star David Chokachi and Naughty by Nature rapper Anthony “Treach” Criss.

3. Apocalypse Z

Originally called Zombie Massacre, this Italian zombie movie was re-titled Apocalypse Z when it was released on DVD in the U.K. to capitalize on the anticipation of World War Z starring Brad Pitt. The film was an adaptation of a video game of the same name for the Nintendo Wii. Iconic German schlock director Uwe Boll produced Apocalypse Z and made a cameo appearance in the film as the President of the United States.

4. Street Racer

While the low-budget film Street Racer closely resembles the title to Warner Bros’ Speed Racer, the car chase action flick's story is closer to those of The Fast & The Furious film franchise. The movie also bears a resemblance to two other racing movies from The Asylum: Speed Demons released in 2003 and Death Racers from 2008.

5. Android Cop

Released a week before Sony’s RoboCop remake was scheduled to open in theaters, The Asylum released Android Cop starring Michael Jai White. While the DVD box art looks like it was created to fool people into thinking it's the new remake, Android Cop’s narrative more resembles RoboCop 2, in which involves a drug-related citywide plague.

6. What’s Up?: Balloon to the Rescue

Brazilian animation studio Vídeo Brinquedo (Toyland Video) is known for low-budget, direct-to-DVD animated movies that closely resemble Pixar and DreamWorks family films. What's Up?: Balloon to the Rescue is a blatant rip-off of Pixar’s Up, and both films were released in the United States during the summer of 2009. Instead of thousands of small balloons to lift up his house, the elderly man in What's Up?: Balloon to the Rescue uses one big hot-air balloon. Revolutionary.

7. The Apocalypse

In 2007, The Asylum released the direct-to-DVD disaster film The Apocalypse. It was made with heavy similarities to other asteroid blockbusters released a decade earlier, namely Armageddon and Deep Impact. While The Apocalypse was originally conceived as a straight up action film, its buyers wanted the movie to have religious themes to appeal to a Christian movie-going audience. The Asylum then created Faith Films, a faith-based film distribution arm of the company.

8. Transmorphers: Fall of Man

Although Transmorphers was the mockbuster of Michael Bay’s Transformers in 2007, its prequel Transmorphers: Fall of Man actually received a few favorable movie reviews when compared to the film it was trying to copy, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

9. Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls

Released at the same time as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls was actually the film adaptation of British author H. Rider Haggard’s 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines. The adventurer Allan Quatermain was also the template for George Lucas when he created the character Indiana Jones with director Steven Spielberg. Still, there's no doubt who is trying to profit off of whom with these films.

10. Bikini Spring Break

While Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers was originally supposed to be released in 2012, the colorful, trippy film was delayed until 2013. That didn’t stop the folks at The Asylum from releasing Bikini Spring Break, which features almost the same premise of four young co-eds from a conservative college throwing caution to the wind in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida during spring break.

11. Pirates of Treasure Island

Released a week before Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest during the summer of 2006, Pirates of Treasure Island borrowed heavily from the popular Disney film. Although the movie received harsh criticism for being a weak imitation, Pirates of Treasure Island was officially based on author Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island.

12. AE: Apocalypse Earth

While AE: Apocalypse Earth was marketed to look like an imitation of After Earth, the low budget science fiction film’s narrative was more of a mix between Predator and Avatar. AE: Apocalypse Earth was shot on location in Costa Rica and was released a few weeks before M. Night Shymalan’s movie starring Will Smith.

13. Paranormal Entity

In 2007, Paranormal Activity was a surprise box office hit. Shane Van Dyke—Dick Van Dyke’s grandson—conceived, wrote, and made the copycat Paranormal Entity for The Asylum. Although both Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Entity were made for almost the same amount of money, the former quickly became a pop culture phenomenon and an instant classic in the horror genre, while the latter was instantly forgotten.

14. Alien Origin

In June 2012, director Ridley Scott released Prometheus, an origin story to his 1979's Alien. A few days after Prometheus hit the screen, The Asylum released Alien Origin. While The Asylum is known for its low-quality mockbusters, Alien Origin is considered one of its worst.

15. Chop Kick Panda

With the working title Tae Kwon Do Panda, Gaiam released the 41-minute animated direct-to-video Chop Kick Panda to capitalize on the anticipation and excitement of Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011. Netflix received heavy criticism from customers who were duped into watching Chop Kick Panda, thinking it was the international smash hit.

16. Almighty Thor

A few days after Marvel Studios' Thor came out in theaters, The Asylum's Almighty Thor aired on the SyFy Channel. While Marvel’s movie was based on the popular comic book of the same name, The Asylum’s was apparently just based on Norse mythology. Almighty Thor stars Richard Grieco as Loki and pro wrestler Kevin Nash as Odin, so it has that going for it.

17. Sunday School Musical

Banking off the success of the theatrical release of High School Musical 3: Senior Year, The Asylum produced Sunday School Musical. The knock-off film was conceived when producer Paul Bales attended a seminar for marketing to a Christian audience. Like The Apocalypse, Sunday School Musical was distributed by Faith Films.

18. Snakes on a Train

One of The Asylum's first films, Snakes on a Train put the studio on the map for making low-grade copycat movies. When the producers were looking for additional financing for Snakes on a Train, a Japanese investors group became interested based solely on the poster. The would-be investors wondered if the movie featured a giant snake eating an out-of-control train. The film didn't orignally have a scene like this, but producer David Rimawi added it to secure funding. 

19. Aliens vs. Avatars

While most knock-off movies only copy one popular movie, Aliens vs. Avatars rips off two: Alien vs. Predator and Avatar. The film follows the intergalactic battle between a quarrelsome alien race and shape-shifting extraterrestrials, while six college friends find themselves in the middle of the interstellar war.

20. Kiara the Brave

Originally titled Super K, Phase 4 Films released, re-titled, and re-packaged the Indian animated film as Kiara the Brave, after Pixar’s Brave. Kiara the Brave takes place in a special part of the galaxy called Dreamzone, but somehow it didn't win an Oscar like its counterpart Brave.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Flurry Road: 5 Tips for Safe Driving on Winter Roads
iStock
iStock

For drivers in the Upper Midwest, traveling during the winter can range from slightly unsettling to deadly. Between 2011 and 2015, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Auto Insurance Center, an average of 800 fatalities occurred annually as a result of weather-related accidents. Icy roads, poor visibility, and other factors can make cold-weather commuting a dicey proposition.

While we can’t control the weather (yet), we can increase our odds of navigating slush-filled roadways successfully. Mental Floss spoke with American Automobile Association (AAA) driving education expert William Van Tassel, Ph.D., for some key tips on how to get your winter driving in gear.

1. GATHER SUPPLIES.

Before you even start your car up for a trip through inclement weather, Van Tassel recommends you pack a worst-case scenario trunk full of supplies. “In case of emergency, you want things on board like water, a blanket, a flashlight, gloves, and kitty litter,” he says. (That last one is for traction in case you get stuck in a snowbank.) You should also have road flares, a shovel, an ice scraper, and a fully-charged cell phone to call for assistance if needed.

2. SLOW DOWN.

Posted speed limit signs assume you’re driving on clear and clean roadways. If snow or ice has accumulated, you need to adjust your speed accordingly. “In slick conditions, tires lose a lot of traction,” Van Tassel says. “You should be cutting your speed down by half or more.” Unfortunately, a lot of people learn this the hard way. “After a snowstorm, we’ll see more crashes on day one than days two or three.”

Van Tassel also cautions to avoid becoming overconfident on snow tires. While they provide better traction in bad weather, it’s not license to speed up.

3. MAINTAIN A SAFE DISTANCE FROM OTHER CARS.

You should be doing this regardless, but bad weather makes it even more crucial. Keep your vehicle at a safe distance from cars behind, in front, and off to the sides, as well as away from pedestrians or cyclists. If you need to brake suddenly, you need time—and space—to avoid a collision. “You really want more space in front,” Van Tassel says. Try to stay between seven and 10 seconds behind the vehicle ahead. That means seeing a landmark and then counting down until you pass the same marker. If you’re only a few seconds behind, you’re too close.

4. DON’T STEER INTO SKIDS.

“That was an old rule of thumb,” Van Tassel says. “The problem is, by the time I remember to steer into a skid, I’m already in a ditch.” If you feel your vehicle sliding, it’s better to steer in the direction you want to go. “You’ll drive where you look, so don’t look at a telephone pole.”

To help maintain control of the car, you want to focus on doing one thing at a time. “If you’re going through a turn, brake, finish braking, then turn. Don’t brake and turn at the same time.”

5. KEEP YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON.

Yep, even in broad daylight. Bad weather limits visibility, and headlights allow both you and your fellow drivers to orient a vehicle. “You’re twice as visible to other drivers that way,” Van Tassel says. “When people can see you, they can avoid you.”

Van Tassel also recommends that drivers avoid relying on fancy car technology to keep them safe. While blind spot monitoring and lane changing sensors are useful, they’re not there so you can zone out. “The tech is there to back you up if you need it. Drive the car, but don’t rely on those things,” he says.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Lists
25 Polite Compliments You Can Pay a Coworker
iStock
iStock

January 24 is National Compliment Day, and a great way to celebrate is by making a concerted effort to praise the people you work with. Be sure to consider when an appropriate time and place for a compliment would be (for instance, shy people would rather be commended on their stellar presentation in private rather than in front of a crowd), but know that whether a coworker is a longtime friend or more of an acquaintance, lauding their work performance and letting them know you appreciate their skills could really make their day.

1. "YOU HAVE A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR."

Women laughing in office.
iStock

Every office has one person who knows how to ease tensions at work by cracking a quick joke or sharing a funny link. If this person's sense of humor makes your job a little more enjoyable, make sure to let them know.

2. "NICE JOB ON THAT PRESENTATION."

Women giving presentation at work.
iStock

Public speaking is intimidating, especially to someone who's new to their job and not used to giving presentations. Notice your coworker is nervous before a big meeting? Seek them out afterwards. Letting them know you enjoyed and learned from what they said will hopefully make them feel more confident next time.

3. "YOU ALWAYS KNOW WHEN TO LEND A HAND."

Men working at table.
iStock

You probably know someone who's always willing to help out with a project when you need it most, and odds are they rarely receive the recognition they deserve. Next time a coworker offers some relief when you're feeling overwhelmed, don't let it go unnoticed. Set aside time to tell them you see the great work they're doing and you appreciate it.

4. "YOU'RE A SAVVY PROBLEM-SOLVER."

Working with post-it notes.
iStock

Being able to see problems differently is a valuable skill in the workplace. It can open up a team to new ideas and save precious time and resources. Sometimes you may be the person to spot the way out of a problem, and other times it's a coworker who points out the solution that was right in front of your face. If you're grateful for their point of view, they deserve to hear it.

5. "YOU'RE A GREAT COMMUNICATOR."

Doctor talking to colleagues.
iStock

Without communication, collaborating with the people in your workplace would be impossible. A great communicator knows how to understand other people's perspectives, explain their own, and make sure they're never keeping anyone in the dark. They're also not above receiving a compliment every now and then.

6. "I LOVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM."

Man talking at table with other people.
iStock

For some people, getting up and going to work each day is easy: They're personally invested in the company they work for and enjoy helping it succeed. Maybe you're not there yet, but you might see this level of passion and enthusiasm in at least one person you work with. Don't let that inspiring attitude go unrecognized.

7. "I APPRECIATE YOUR TRUST."

Two men in suits shake hands.
iStock

Effective management is just as much about offering guidance and support as knowing when to back off. Sometimes leaving employees room to breathe is the best thing managers can do to encourage growth and creativity. It's also a thankless move that often goes unrewarded. Expressing your appreciation to your manager can make a big difference in their day.

8. "WHAT A FUN PARTY (LUNCH/HAPPY HOUR/ETC.)."

Celebrating a birthday at the office.
iStock

People take certain work events for granted without stopping to consider the employees who make them possible. Birthday cakes don't magically appear and after-work happy hours don't plan themselves. Behind every fun break you get from your day-to-day duties, there's a coworker who took the initiative to make it happen, and they would like to hear that you enjoyed the fruits of their labor.

9. "YOU'VE GOT A KILLER WORK ETHIC."

Woman at a computer in an office.
iStock

We all wish we could be the employee who blows through projects without breaking a sweat. If you're not that person, the least you can do is pay the tireless person in your workplace a compliment—especially after a big project that had them tackling most of the work.

10. "YOUR POSITIVE ATTITUDE IS INFECTIOUS."

High-fiving at work.
iStock

Just like one pessimistic employee can bring down the whole office, a positive person can have the opposite effect. It's hard to feel grumpy about starting a new week when the colleague sitting next to you does everything with a smile on their face.

11. "YOU ASK GREAT QUESTIONS."

Woman raising her hand at work.
iStock

Asking about something you're not familiar with at work can be intimidating, whether it's about a new policy or procedure or perhaps about the ins and outs of a department you don't usually work with. But asking for help or clarification is also the only way to learn and grow. Complimenting a coworker who asks a lot of questions lets them know that not only is that OK, it's valued.

12. "I LOVE YOUR IDEAS."

Hand writing in a notebook.
iStock

When someone introduces a great idea at work, people often respond in one of two ways: They get upset that they didn't think of it themselves, or they admire the person for their brilliance. If you want to strengthen work relationships and feel better in the long run, we suggest expressing the latter.

13. "YOU'RE GREAT AT TAKING INITIATIVE."

People talking in an office.
iStock

Employees who take initiative help businesses run smoothly. Managers don't have to worry about babysitting them, and their coworkers never end up picking up their slack. Next time you go into work, find the person you know who always takes initiative and compliment them for their efforts.

14. "YOU'RE VERY CREATIVE."

Meeting at work.
iStock

Even if your job isn't particularly inspiring, you may have coworkers who find everyday opportunities to be creative. Their creativity might shine through in the form of a sharply designed flyer, a well-written memo, or an innovative solution to the problem at hand. Sometimes people who don't work in a traditionally artistic field are rarely complimented for their creativity—you can change that.

15. "I APPRECIATE YOU TAKING RESPONSIBILITY."

Two people cleaning up cups in a cafe.
iStock

Do you know someone at work who's taken responsibility—whether for a botched performance, a failed pitch, or a missed deadline—even when they could have gotten away with keeping quiet? That's not easy to do. Recognize their actions, and they may be inclined to do it more often.

16. "YOU'RE SO FLEXIBLE."

Office worker with bike on laptop.
iStock

Sure, you can promise your coworker this is the absolute last time you'll ask them to push a meeting back a couple of days or move up a deadline by a week. Or, you can compliment them on being so flexible and thank them for working around the changes so efficiently.

17. "I LOVE YOUR CONFIDENCE."

Woman walking down the street with coffee.
iStock

Confidence in the workplace is hard to ignore. It radiates from everything a person does, and when you're working on a project with such a person, it can make you feel more confident as well. Let this employee know that you appreciate their poise and self-assuredness.

18. "I APPRECIATE HOW TECH-SAVVY YOU ARE."

Woman pointing to a computer where a man is working.
iStock

Who do you turn to when your screen freezes, or when the long email you spent the last 15 minutes crafting suddenly disappears? Likely, instead of running to I.T. every time, you ask a nearby coworker who always seems to have the answers. Even if they don't share their know-how for the praise, they deserve a compliment and gratitude.

19. "YOU'RE A GREAT BAKER."

Workplace with cookies on a plate.
iStock

People who bake for their coworkers are a special breed. By sharing what they made with the office, it means that they not only took the time to cook with you in mind, but also that they're sharing a bit of their personal likes or hobbies with you. What better time to compliment the chef than when they bring platter of fresh cookies to the morning meeting?

20. "I ADMIRE YOUR LEADERSHIP."

Woman in hard hat with papers.
iStock

A good leader is many things, including fair, compassionate, and hard-working. But whatever qualities your manager exhibits that make you appreciate working for him or her, find a chance to let them know you commend their leadership, and that you're a better employee because of it.

21. "YOU HAVE A MIND FOR DETAIL."

People working at a table.
iStock

Details make a big difference at work, whether you're writing a big report or a thank you email. Sometimes the details that make the biggest impact on a project are hard to notice on their own. See if you can spot the smart, subtle details the next time you're evaluating your coworker's work, and tell them if you're impressed by what you find.

22. "YOU'RE ON MY WAVELENGTH."

Women talking at work.
iStock

It may not always top lists of most valuable skills to take into the workplace, but empathy can do wonders for office culture. When team members practice empathy and really make an effort to understand the people they work with, they make everyone's job easier. This is one skill that definitely deserves recognition.

23. "THANKS FOR BEING SO RELIABLE."

Two men shaking hands.
iStock

No matter what you do for work, it's impossible to do your job entirely on your own. Reliable coworkers you can depend on for support, guidance, and inspiration are a priceless resource. If they make the effort to show up and work hard consistently, the least you can do is show them you appreciate it.

24. "YOU'RE A REAL TEAM PLAYER."

Team working together in the office.
iStock

In order to succeed as a team, your colleagues need to have the right attitude. Maybe there's one person on your team who sets a good example for the rest of you: They know exactly when to step back and listen to other people's ideas and when to come forward with their own. Sometimes being a good team player means swallowing your pride to do what's best for the group, and that's behavior worth celebrating.

25. "YOU GIVE GREAT ADVICE."

Women talking to her colleagues at work.
iStock

At some point in your career, you've likely relied on a more experienced coworker for advice. Without mentors, many of the world's most successful people wouldn't be where they are today. Never be ashamed to ask for guidance, and once you receive it, make sure to show your gratitude.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios