Think your movie collection is bizarre? Get a load of these hairbrained, ca$h-makin' schemes disguised as movies (okay, fine, some of them are actually pretty legit, like the Ugandan Expendables). You might own a Kenneth Anger box set, but that ain't got sh*t on Brazilian Star Wars ripoff The Tramps in the War of Planets, in which the Wookie character wears what looks like a bootleg Chewbacca mask. With the explosion of global distribution, international box office, and endless entertainment industry litigation, it's a harder for projects like that to get off the ground these days. But back in the day, after a movie blew up the American box office, foreign filmmakers were all over it, finding ingenious ways to wiggle around copyright law and bring audiences shameless foreign Hollywood ripoffs, be it through satire or straight up plagiarism.
While smash-hit superhero flicks are perhaps the easiest type of film to imitate (or mash together, like in 3 Dev Adam), this list isn't limited to strange men and women running around in low-budget spandex. You'll find action films, spy dramas, fantasy, musical comedy, and sci-fi movies rife with strange parallel foreign equivalents of Hollywood successes. This collection of weird foreign films that mimic American blockbusters is a bizarre testament to human creativity - the minds behind these films drummed up brazen ripoffs of successful films with tremendous imagination.
Keep scrolling for a menagerie of strange, awkward, and shameless foreign Hollywood copies
The Spiderman TV Show: A Kaiju-Spiced Spiderman Latte
The Japanese Spiderman from The Spiderman TV Show is somewhat different from milquetoast Peter Parker, who was bitten by a garden variety radioactive spider. Japanese Peter Parker is motorcyclist Takuya Yamashiro, who transforms into Spiderman with the help of a magical bracelet he gets from a telepathic alien spider, as one does. He also gets a spaceship and a giant samurai mecha in the deal.
Yet The Spiderman TV Show is far from a boring, second-rate ripoff. From a swinging theme song that sounds like Japanese Tom Jones to its psychedelic space villains (the Iron Cross Army; so, basically, space Nazis); Spidey's Adam West Batman-esque array of tools; and the vintage, peak-camp Godzilla influence, the show is extremely entertaining and totally bizarre, in the best way.
Just get a load of some of the characters you'll meet along the way:
- Hitomi Sakuma - Takuya's 20-year old photographer girlfriend
- Dr. Yamashiro - Takuya's dad, and astronomer who discovers the Iron Cross Army and is killed not long thereafter.
- Garia - An alien from Planet Spider.
- Professor Monster - The leader of the Iron Cross Army who wants to conquer Earth 400 years after destroying Planet Spider. He's immortal, thanks to his habit of drinking blood (so he's a space vampire Nazi?).
Operation Kakongoliro!: A Ugandan Expendables With Hard-Hitting Martial Arts
If you've ever wondered what a Ugandan version of The Expendables might look like, feast your eyes on Operation Kakongoliro!. This buckwild action extravaganza is fresh out of Wakaliwood, a guerilla filmmaking scene that arose from Wakaliga, a slum in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. The blood in Operation Kakongoliro! is way faker than anything you'll find in The Expendables, yet, somehow, this no-budget slug fest has more convincing martial arts than any of the Expendables movies, bar Jet Li's scenes. It kinda looks like they're really just beating the crap out of one another.
Production design obviously wasn't in the budget, but when you live and are filming in the slums, who needs that? The guns all look real, and you kinda have to wonder where they came from, given the extenuating circumstances of the industry from which the movie came. As for the plot and whether it's an Expendables ripoff for real... well, it's called the Ugandan Expendables in the trailer, and in some iterations the movie is just straight up entitled Operation Kakongoliro! The Ugandan Expendables.
Mad Shelia: A Chinese Mad Max In Form And Function
Mad Shelia is the very definition of a shameless ripoff. This Chinese Mad Max copy at least has the good sense to rip off the entire Mad Max franchise, not just one of the films. It has the cars, female-driven narrative, and endless race of Fury Road, but the past future-punk aesthetic of the original Mad Max, and a dirt-cheap feel to match. Also like the original Mad Max, Mad Shelia has two sequels on the way, entitled Mad Shelia – Virgin Road and Mad Shelia – Vengeance Road.
If you don't believe in miracles, you're about to. Get a load of this gift from the heavens: Avvai Shanmughi is the 161-minute Tamil-language musical version of Mrs. Doubtfire. You can watch the whole thing on Youtube if you're so inclined. If not, suffice it to say, the premise is exactly the same as Mrs. Doubtfire, though the specifics have been adapted to the cultural, social, and political climate of India.
Musical numbers aside, there are some very bizarre tangential comedic bits in Avvai Shanmughi, such as a scene of man walking down the street staring lecherously at a woman's behind, only for it to be revealed he's trying to read something in a newspaper stuck to her butt. The movie has so much cultural capital in India the headline of the Times of India Robin Williams obituary read "Hollywood's Avvai Shanmugi dies at 63."