With the DVD release of Ape vs Monster hitting the shelves this month it would be understandable to dismiss it as a blatant rip-off of Godzilla Vs Kong, because that is precisely what it is.
But there is a cunning genius behind the movie that dates back almost 25-years. It comes from a cheeky American distributor by the name of The Asylum who have made a name for themselves in the audacious world of ‘mockbusters’.
Founded in 1997, The Asylum has an Australian connection with former Village Roadshow executives David Rimawi and Sherri Strain founding the company alongside director David Michael Latt (Sorority House Party). Their original mission statement was to produce low budget direct-to-video horror movies, however with their first slate of releases failing to find an audience due to the competitive nature of the genre, they turned their attention to replicating much bigger studio produced films.
The game changer for the company was the release of their 2005 sci-fi adventure H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, which they tenaciously released just one day before Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds hit cinema screens. The method to their madness was a shrewd plan to confuse consumers by having an almost indistinguishable title on video store shelves concurrently with the bigger budgeted theatrical title. The strategy paid off big time with the Blockbuster Video Store chain ordering a staggering 100,000 copies of the knock-off movie, resulting in The Asylum sticking with the new method and becoming a mockbusting empire.
Throughout the years The Asylum’s release slate of titles have bared uncanny similarities to their higher quality counterparts, with art work and names being insolent imitations. Suffice to say it is a business model that not only gets the ire of Hollywood – with several lawsuits ensuing over the years – but has also earned them a legion of devoted fans.
Just some of the comparative titles for your amusement are: The DaVinci Treasure (The Da Vinci Code), Transmorphers (Transformers), Alien Vs Hunter (Alien Vs Predator), The Day the Earth Stopped (The Day the Earth Stood Still), Sunday School Musical (High School Musical), Paranormal Entity (Paranormal Activity), Battle of Los Angeles (Battle: Los Angeles), AE Apocalypse Earth (AE After Earth), Hornet (Bumblebee), Sinister Squad (Suicide Squad), Atlantic Rim (Pacific Rim) and the upcoming Jungle Run (Jungle Cruise) amongst many many others.
Their output doesn’t end there with the company producing other stand alone schlock titles that have become bonafide cult classics. They are the mob behind the phenomenon that is the Sharknado franchise as well as the Mega Shark series and cult movies like Zoombies, Nazis at the Centure of the Earth and Titanic II (yes, Titanic II).
If you’re not already gobsmacked enough then you may get a kick out of the fact that they took their mockbuster mastery to television with the Walking Dead-like series Z Nation and it’s spin-off series Black Summer, which were well received and lasted five and two (to date) seasons respectively.
So next time you are browsing the shelves and stumble across some blatantly obnoxious movie rip-off, consider where it’s from and the audacity behind its creation. These movies are fun and intentionally contemptuous. They are supposed to be hokey and offer a fantastic point-n-laugh experience when viewed over drinks with friends.
Ape vs Monster releases on DVD October 6. Pre-order now at JB Hi-Fi.