... And You Thought $8 Was a Box Office Rip-off
Late at night, traveling the pages of Wikipedia for some quick entertainment, I happened across a page describing a small film studio called The Asylum. Under any other circumstances, this studio would be completely forgettable—only one or two of their 300-plus films have even made it to theaters. However, a quick glance at the titles this illustrious studio has produced revealed some curiously named films; for example, The Asylum has released Transmorphers, Snakes on a Train, The Da Vinci Treasure and many other films with names suspiciously similar to big-budget Hollywood films. The Asylum, in short, is the most blatant and shameless producer of so-called “mockbuster” films, movies designed to capitalize and piggyback on the hype and success of similarly titled wide-release pictures.
The Asylum's method is to release low-budget knockoffs of upcoming films, discarding subtlety in favor of being as obvious as possible about their inspiration. For example, their 2008 monster movie, Monster, was released three days before the premiere of another monster movie, Cloverfield, and, surprise—Monster used the same shaky-cam, first-person filming style that Cloverfield relied on. While the real thing garnered mildly positive reviews, Monster tended to have the opposite effect—among the many negative reviews was a 10-minute audio recording by reviewer Scott Foy of horror media website DreadCentral.com, presented as “found audio” to mock the “found film” style used in the film, where Foy essentially rants about how much he disliked the film for the duration of the review. Even The Asylum's film stars criticize their products—after starring in the 2008 movie Death Racers, Joseph Bruce (aka Violent J of psychotic carnival hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse) called the movie “the bootleg ripoff fake version [of Death Race],” while his counterpart, Joseph Utsler (aka Shaggy 2 Dope), remarked that if fans wanted to see it, they might be able to find it in the clearance bin at their local Wal-Mart.
The Asylum may have the most ridiculous catalog of films of any movie studio in existence, a byproduct of being the most prolific and least-subtle mockbuster producer in the world. A trip through its catalog is good for at least a few laughs—for example, I doubt you could guess who Allan Quatermain is, but you'll chuckle when you see the movie poster and realize his inspiration.