They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery … and they’re wrong.
I discovered these doppelgängers while surfing Netflix recently. They popped up as recommendations in “Sci-Fi & Fantasy” under the “New Releases” category.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! These have got to be some of the most shameless non-pron (I think …) rip-offs in the history of film — right down to the cover design.
AVP (2004, sequel in ’07) vs. AVH (2007)
Alien vs. Hunter: “An interplanetary hunter tracks the galaxy’s most deadly creature to Earth, where predator and prey square off in a battle to the death — with humanity caught in the middle of the terrible conflict. When a team of commandos is sent to investigate a series of mysterious incidents, they stumble upon the clash between these dangerous aliens and must run for their lives. William Katt and Dedee Pfeiffer star in this exciting sci-fi action film.” [Katt was the star of ’80s TV’s Greatest American Hero.]
Alien vs. Predator: “The creepiest creatures from two epic thrillers face off in the ultimate showdown in this film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. The fun begins when scientists and explorers (played by a cast that includes Sanaa Lathan and Raoul Bova) discover an ancient pyramid in Antarctica. But the structure isn’t the only behemoth in the ice. A battle between two otherworldly populations is threatening to destroy the region and its inhabitants for good.”
[I need to check out AVP. The whole “pyramid in Antarctica” thing sounds so very Lovecraftian.]
Transformers (2007) vs. Transmorphers (2007)
Transformers: “Based on the popular toys that transform from machines into giant robots, this live-action movie from Pearl Harbor director Michael Bay finds the planet Cybertron inhabitants engaging in a secret war for control of Earth’s natural resources, which they desperately need for fuel. Able to disguise themselves as cars, airplanes, boats and more, the transformers prove a tough enemy in this film starring Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel and Jon Voight.”
Transmorphers: “Three hundred years ago, alien machines landed on Earth, wiping out civilization and driving mankind underground. Now, after three centuries of oppression, a small band of hardened resistance fighters leads the charge to the surface, where the final battle against the giant robots will decide the fate of the world. Amy Weber, Matthew Wolf, Eliza Swenson, Shaley Scott and Griff Furst star in this postapocalyptic techno-thriller.”
[Oh, Griff Furst — star of such fine Sci Fi Channel fare as Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove and Boa vs. Python — say no more! His character name in Transmorphers? Itchy. Sounds like he might have picked up something in Cutter’s Cove …]
Cloverfield (2007) vs. Monster (2007)
Monster: “Emerging from the rubble after a massive earthquake rocks Tokyo, American filmmakers Sarah (Sarah Lynch) and Erin (Erin Sullivan) capture on camera a glimpse of something rising from the torn ground: a 200-foot monster that’s a bigger threat than any tremor. This documentary-style horror film (à la ‘The Blair Witch Project’) is constructed from the tapes found in the duo’s camera.”
Cloverfield: “A going-away party in Manhattan is interrupted when a mysterious, giant-sized monster launches an attack on New York City. With camcorder in hand, a small group of friends make their way out into the chaotic streets, scrambling to stay alive. Mike Vogel, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, Michael Stahl-David, Odet Jasmin and T.J. Miller co-star in this action-thriller produced by J.J. Abrams, creator of the hit television series ‘Alias’ and ‘Lost.’ “
The verdict: GUILTY!
Of course, this kind of idea theft is nothing new. Producers are notorious for rushing into production with low-budget versions of upcoming blockbusters, and they almost always wind up going direct-to-DVD. And airing Saturday nights on the Sci Fi Channel.
So, did I add any of these copycats to my queue? Uh, no. And I’ll deny it to my dying breath.
I just shudder for the poor kids whose well-meaning but clueless parents rent Transmorphers for their next sleepover.
Transmorphers! That’s better than the recent SNL digital short “Grandkids in the Movies,” in which the grandpa called Transformers “The Transforming Robots” (about 2 minutes into the sketch, below).
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Synopses via Netflix