Some countries have copyright laws that are a little more liberal than others. Usually produced on a much lower budget with a tenuous grasp of the original plot, these foreign knock-offs can be extremely entertaining. Here are my top 10 foreign knock-off movies that you need to see right away.
HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD – 1980 (Italian – DAWN OF THE DEAD)
George Romero’s 1978 film DAWN OF THE DEAD was the movie that launched a thousand copycats. If a theatre held a film festival of these, you might find yourself stuck in your seat for a few years. However, special attention needs to be paid to Bruno Mattei’s (credited as Vincent Dawn) 1980 tribute HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD also known as VIRUS. The film is a conglomeration of mismatched and poorly cut-together scenes and locations accompanied by a nonsensical plot line. It’s probably the most surreal zombie film you’ll ever see.
BADI – 1983 (Turkey – E.T.)
Turkey (you’ll see that name come up quite a bit) was notorious for churning out thousands of “mock-busters” during the 70s and 80s. However, their version of E.T. has to be the most epic. BADI is mind-blowingly low budget with the most frightening and friendly creature you’ve ever seen. In fact, most of this children’s film is pretty frightening. Still, as far as E.T. rip-offs go it’s better than MAC AND ME.
MAHAKAAL – 1993 (India – A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET)
This NIGHTMARE-inspired Bollywood horror flick doesn’t stray very far from the source material. However, it does find a way to include the standard song and dance numbers you’ve come to expect from Bollywood cinema.
TIME OF THE APES – 1974 (Japan – PLANET OF THE APES)
TIME OF THE APES was actually a TV movie released in Japan in 1974. It was a 26 episode series about three unsuspecting time-travelers who stumble their way into a cryogenic freezer. It also provided one of my favorite scenes, see below….
LADY TERMINATOR – 1989 (Indonesia – THE TERMINATOR)
Director of my favorite Indonesian horror film, 1981’s MYSTICS IN BALI, Tjut Djalil embarks on a very bold endeavor, co-opt James Cameron’s 1984 classic THE TERMINATOR. In a country not known for its robotics, Djalil converts his terminator into an American archeologist possessed by a sea goddess. I’d venture to say that this version is more explosive and gory than its American source material.
AATANK – 1996 (India – JAWS)
In 1976, Stephen Spielberg’s JAWS not only set box office records, but it launched a landslide of copycat shark films all over the world. From Italy’s THE LAST SHARK to Mexico’s TINTOERA: KILLER SHARK almost every country with a coast line wanted to cash in on these terrors from the deep. AATANK is the answer that age old question, “What would an Indian version of JAWS would be like?” Well here you go.
REPTILLICUS – 1961 (Denmark – GODZILLA)
REPTILLICUS has the distinction of being Denmark’s only giant monster film. Although poorly reviewed, it doesn’t do that bad a job utilizing the tropes created by its Japanese counterparts. And co-produced by American International Pictures, it makes good use of their philosophy of capturing the youth audience with use of sex, violence, and action.
INTIKAM KADINI – 1979 (Turkey – I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE)
This rape-revenge film is Turkey’s first adult movie to be distributed legally. Despite its place in film history, it still looks like to was made on a shoe-string budget over the course of a weekend with a camera someone dropped in the Black Sea five minutes before they started shooting.
A*P*E* – 1976 (South Korea – KING KONG)
This flick lifted so much from the original that RKO actually sued the film’s producers. Because of the lawsuit, the name of the film was changed from THE NEW KING KONG to SUPER APE and then to A*P*E. A tag line was also added to the film’s posters reading “Not to be confused with KING KONG.”
THE MAN WHO SAVED THE WORLD – 1982 (Turkey – STAR WARS)
An extremely blatant example of Turkey’s lack of copyright laws, this film actually uses footage from STAR WARS, brilliantly projected on to green screen. It’s a mind expanding journey through space which could be what STAR WARS looked like if you watched it on acid.
THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN – 1977 (China – Almost Every Movie You’ve Ever Seen)
The death of Bruce Lee was a tremendous blow to Chinese cinema. Unable to let him go to his final resting place, filmmakers went out on a world-wide search to find someone who could not just take over for “the dragon”, but to also become him. A new genre was created called Brucesploitation giving life to the careers of people like Bruce Le, Bruce Li, and Dragon Lee. THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN is the work of Bruce Leung, actual name Leung Siu-Lung. Just like other Brucesploitation films, THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN recreates the style originated by the original Lee, but it also goes out of its way to pay respect, or rip-off, several other popular titles. The story begins with the death of Bruce Lee and follows him as he takes on icons of the time like Dracula, James Bond, Clint Eastwood, Emmanuelle, and the Godfather. He also fights his way through an EXORCIST theme and is joined by both The One-Armed Swordsman and Popeye.