Inspiration is a tricky thing. It strikes at odd times, and if these twin films tell us anything, it strikes multiple people at the same time. There are plenty of horror movies that adapt the same story or feature similar plot points, but there are also a lot of spooky movies that are basically the same. This isn’t to say the filmmakers were copying each other, but perhaps something was in the zeitgeist that made multiple writers and directors think, “Hey, let’s make an underwater monster movie/Scream parody/end-of-the-world kind of thing.”
Many of these pairings of similar horror films have one movie that nails what it’s going for, while the other flounders in a way that makes it seem undercooked - whether from poor writing or budgetary limitations. In a few cases, both movies are great, but more often than not only one of these near-identical horror movies survives the test of time.
How They Are Similar: Both are grindhouse features inspired by the life of Ed Gein. They each have plenty of gruesome imagery and, naturally, a man wearing the severed face of a woman. One of the most jarring similarities is that they both feature a "dinner scene" in which a young woman is tied up and seated at the end of a table with a group of people she'd... rather not dine with.
How They Are Different: While Leatherface is all about family - he goes so far as to include his kin in the slayings that take place in the film - Ezra Cobb begins his rampage after losing his mother. Deranged takes the events of Gein's biography much more literally, actually dramatizing moments from his life, whereas Texas Chain Saw Massacre uses its inspiration liberally and frequently deviates from history.
- 238 VOTES
How They Are Similar: Turns out 2005 was a great year for people who liked horror movies where people got stuck in caves. Released within weeks of one another, The Cave and The Descent both follow a group of spelunkers as they attempt to escape a cave filled with giant monsters. The American edit of The Descent ends with a kind of twist ending that's quite different from that of The Cave, although they do have the same eerie vibe.
How They Are Different: The Cave takes on a more action-oriented approach as it develops, while The Descent becomes claustrophobic to the point of mass anxiety. We never really learn what the creatures are in the The Descent, but in The Cave, it's revealed that they're humans who have been mutated by a parasitic virus.
How They Are Similar: Predating the true-crime craze of the 2010s by a few years, each film is inspired by the 1965 murder of Sylvia Likens. Both movies are heavily influenced by the French New Extremism movement and American underground films of the early 2000s. People are tied up in a basement; they're tormented with a blowtorch; and they get words carved or branded into their bellies.
How They Are Different: An American Crime has a more prestigious cast, with Catherine Keener, Ellen Page and Bradley Whitford making appearances (Keener was nominated for a Golden Globe for her appearance), while The Girl Next Door's ensemble is less well-known. The Girl has a flashback structure, while An American Crime ends with a peculiar twist involving ghosts. They're very similar, yet completely different.
- 425 VOTES
How They Are Similar: Each of these deep-sea horror films involve hostile "alien" life forms and ask the question, "What's under the ocean, man?" In both, the crews have been on long missions and are ready to go home. Both casts include a character who's about to crack under pressure, and to top it all off, each crew is being hunted by an underwater mutant creature. DeepStar Six and Leviathan both feature strong ensembles and have that whole "Alien but underwater" thing going on.
How They Are Different: The devil's in the details for these two underwater creature features. Aside from obvious differences, like cast and director, the monsters are totally different. DeepStar Six embraces a slightly more pensive vibe; the monster is just a thing that's awakened from the deep that wants to chomp on our cast. Leviathan is a much more gooey film in which the crew members themselves mutate before hunting down others; it takes itself less seriously than DeepStar Six. Each film works pretty well on its own terms.