All dogs go to video

Stop it! Making shitty copycats just makes the crappy originals look good.

Roger Corman said that one of the worst things a producer could do is to try and emulate a Hollywood blockbuster on a limited budget.

When the man who produced Carnosaur and Humanoids from the Deep tells you what not to do, you should really listen to him.

Corman, you may recall, produced hundreds of exploitation movies by emulating Hollywood trends over the years. For every Jaws, Roger Corman had a Piranha. For every Bonny & Clyde (starring Warren Beatty), there’d be a Big, Bad Mama (starring William Shatner’s penis).

Hoping to emulate Corman’s success is The Asylum, a company that releases micro-budget knock-offs of Hollywood hits for the direct-to-DVD market. After watching three of their most recent releases (Sunday School Musical, The Eighteen Year Old Virgin and Transmorphers: Fall of Man), I see that Roger Corman’s advice has fallen on deaf ears.

My rip-off marathon started with Sunday School Musical.

I was hoping the film was a musical re-telling of the 2006 Academy Award-nominated documentary Jesus Camp while spoofing High School Musical. Sadly, my hopes would go unrealized as church-faring teens danced and pranced on screen while claiming to be from “the hood”. There’s even an “angry dance” scene, like in Flight of the Conchords.

Tension arises when choir singer Zack (played by someone you’ll never see in a movie ever again) is relocated to a new neighborhood. Will he stay loyal to his old choir, or join an inferior new one? The answer to that question is sure to leave you yearning to commit suicide.

But, wait! I still have more rip-off movies to sit through!

If you enjoyed Steve Carell as a virgin approaching middle-age, you’re sure to appreciate the unremarkable comedy stylings of Olivia Mae as a virgin… in high school! The Eighteen Year Old Virgin doesn’t owe much to Judd Apatow, but rather to every joyless sex comedy of the last thirty years.

Yes, it’s another American Pie wannabe, which means that it was designed with the sole purpose of hurting my feelings.

If creating a watered-down version of an already terrible film seems to be the modus operandi for Asylum, then Transmorphers: Fall of Man fits the bill. Between a character referring to a robot “transmorphing” into a van and the last-minute revelation of a robot “tortured by the Ruskies until it revealed its memory codes,” Transmorphers: Fall of Man exhibits the rarest of rare traits: it has a script so stupid, not even Michael Bay would have filmed it.

And therein lies the heinous truth about Asylum: they make the worst Hollywood movies seem good by comparison. As hacky as Roger Corman’s methods might seem, he had the knack for directing b-movies that are entertaining and sometimes subversive—far more than any Asylum film can claim. With Death Race 2000, Mask of the Red Death, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and, yes, even Big, Bad Mama, Roger Corman’s work has stood the test of time.

But I’m sure no one will remember a single Asylum movie five years from now.

Adam Clarke

One comment

  1. prufock · October 5, 2011

    Who could forget the genius that is Alien vs Hunter?!