When you look at how the Asylum parodies Hollywood, it's hard to not respect the lengths to which they'll go to produce their B-movie mockbusters. What is the Asylum? It calls itself an independent film company, though its products are anything but original. For every major studio hit that's released, the Asylum is right there with a pretty shameless rip-off. Their movies feature titles that are maybe one word away from the genuine article, and often have extremely similar cover art. It's a business model that seems designed to pull a fast one on viewers, and judging by the sheer volume of the studio's output, it must work.
The most blatant mockbusters produced by the Asylum are awe-inspiring in their audacity. Are you a fan of The Da Vinci Code? Why not try The Da Vinci Treasure? Looking for a family-friendly film along the lines of High School Musical? The Asylum's Sunday School Musical is only a play button away. From bizarre sequels to cheap monster flicks, the worst rip-offs of blockbusters from the Asylum cover all the bases.
2006's Snakes on a Plane is a sort of charming B-movie pastiche that aims for midnight cult-movie status. What makes Snakes on a Plane work, plot-wise, is that you can't get off of a plane mid-air - there's no escape. The Asylum's Snakes on a Train, however, is aware that fleeing a train is a bit more realistic, so they really ratchet up the insanity of the plot.
A woman afflicted by a Mayan curse has dozens of snakes rapidly hatching within her body, and she needs to get to Los Angeles from her native Mexico to find a shaman to undo the curse. She takes a train, and obviously the snakes escape their fleshy incubator and wreak havoc for the passengers on-board.
Actors: Amelia Jackson-Gray, Giovanni Bejarano, Alby Castro, Shakti Shannon, Al Galvez, + more
Initial Release: 2006
Directed by: Peter Mervis
#49 on The Best Train Movies
Obviously, this 2008 release from the Asylum is an effort to cash in on the mega-popular High School Musical franchise, and that's a departure for a studio that specializes in more horror and sci-fi fare. If you thought the Asylum veering into other genres would have more watchable results, Sunday School Musical proves you very, very wrong.
Probably the most interesting thing going on here is that the Asylum made a Christian film, which illustrates that they'll go anywhere that might lead to money. The plot of this movie is pretty much Sister Act: talented teens need to raise money for their church/youth center lest they be cast out to the dangers of the street. Unlike Sister Act, however, the choreography is nonexistent, the musical numbers are dreadful, and the plot is riddled with cathedral-sized holes.
Actors: Mark Hengst, Dustin Fitzsimons, Candise Lakota, Millena Gay, Rae Silva, + more
Initial Release: 2008
Directed by: Rachel Goldenberg
Are you one of the few people who thought the Alien and Predator crossover AVP: Alien vs. Predator was a necessary and watchable film? Good news: there is somehow an even worse version of that movie that was made by, naturally, by the Asylum.
2007's AVH: Alien vs. Hunter is truly the Asylum at their unoriginal, low-budget best. Is the Alien element at all similar to Ridley Scott's concept? Nope - as is the norm in all Asylum films, it's more like a giant spider. Who the hell is "Hunter," you may ask? Some kind of cyborg who bears a passing resemblance to the Predator, and actually turns out to be a human from Earth. These two creatures duke it out in an unassuming town where the locals die in mildly gory, fake-looking ways.
While this is one of the Asylum's more critically derided films, the ending leaves the door open for a sequel. Sadly, it has yet to be made.
Actors: Dedee Pfeiffer, William Katt, Jason S. Gray, Matthew Bolton, Randy Mulkey, + more
Initial Release: 2007
Directed by: Scott Harper
When the Paranormal Activity franchise put Blumhouse on the map as a production company, the Asylum must have taken notice. The low-budget, found-footage horror films did incredibly well at the box office, and ushered in a successful business model for Jason Blum's production company. But the Asylum seemed to learn the wrong lesson from Paranormal Activity. Instead of recognizing that low-budget films could be watchable, they apparently decided that they could make even lower-budget, unwatchable films.
2009's Paranormal Entity is a found-footage ghost story complete with a disclaimer at the beginning from made-up authorities, and supposedly depicts several spooky incidents that lead up to a murder. This film is entirely unremarkable, but you have to give the Asylum credit for taking their parodies beyond the major studios.
Actors: Erin Marie Hogan, Shane Van Dyke, Norman Saleet, Fia Perera
Initial Release: 2009
Directed by: Shane Van Dyke