Quantcast Ted Geoghegan's TOP 10 THOUGHT THEY WERE ORIGINAL

Low-budget filmmakers often regurgitate plotlines to make a buck or two on whatever's hot. Look at the 1974 blaxploitation flick Abby (a blatant Exorcist rip-off) or the recent Transmorphers (which needs no further clarification). Unless it's a sanctioned remake, they rarely cite their source material… and even when they're blatant about it, the casual moviegoer can pick up on what The DaVinci Treasure is trying to cash in on. Let's face it, most of these folks aren't claiming to be innovative.

But what happens when they do claim to be original? On top of that, what happens when the tables are turned and Hollywood rips off lesser-known (or simply outdated) features? It doesn't just happen… it happens all the time – especially in genre films.

Just because their names are Ridley Scott, Michael Bay, and Sam Raimi doesn't mean they shouldn't cite their source material. "Homages" my adorable butt. These are rip-offs, plain and simple. Sure, they're great films, and oftentimes superior to their originals, but they're thefts nonetheless.

Gathered below are my ten favorite films that fooled us into thinking they were original… movies that "borrowed" so much from an earlier feature that they simply can't deny the parallels. Can you name both features, based solely on their amazingly-similar plot descriptions?

I could, but if you couldn't already tell… I don't have much of a life.

PLOT: In the not-too-distant future, a ragtag group from Earth lands on an uncharted extra-terrestrial world, thought to be devoid of life. Little do they know, a serpentine alien life form has stowed away on board their ship. After take-off, the crew begins to disappear, one-by-one, as the remaining staff tries in vain to fight back against the alien presence. When all else fails, the airlock is blown and the creature is sent tumbling into deep space.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)
BUT WAS RIPPED OFF AS THE BETTER-KNOWN:
Alien (1979)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
Alien, by a long shot. Geiger's alien is a Hell of a lot scarier than a dude who looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
WORTH NOTING:
Both aliens love hiding out in air ducts while they dine on their victims.

PLOT: In an "original" story by Michael Crichton, a futuristic amusement park opens, offering guests the opportunity to safely become part of a world never before glimpsed by modern eyes. Unbeknownst to the current visitors, an electrical short disables the safety precautions and, within minutes, the attractions turn deadly.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
Westworld (1973)
BUT CRICHTON RIPPED OFF HIS OWN SCRIPT TO WRITE:
Jurassic Park (1993)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
Tough call. Both movies are great, but the rip-off's special effects and performances are uniformly better.
WORTH NOTING:
In the Simpsons episode "Itchy and Scratchy Land", the physical attributes of Westworld and Jurassic Park are combined to create the titular theme park.

PLOT: A group of college kids take a weekend trip into the woods. A professor's foreboding voice is played on a tape recorder. The students are inexplicably drawn toward an ancient book that holds an unknown evil power. Upon reading from its pages, demons are summoned up, which proceed to possess the kids, killing them off in various gruesome ways.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
Equinox (1970)
BUT WAS RIPPED OFF AS THE BETTER-KNOWN:
The Evil Dead (1981)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
The Evil Dead is monumentally better than the experimental Equinox, and the gore gives it an edge that wasn't widely available in 1970.
WORTH NOTING:
Equinox also features an evil doppelganger of the film's hero and a supernatural vortex leading to a medieval castle, both of which were ripped off for Evil Dead 2.

PLOT: A man, living in strange facility, dreams of one day winning the "lottery", so he can leave the compound and live the rest of his life in an unseen promised land. Eventually escaping from the facility, he discovers that he is a clone, the lottery is a lie, and that both he and his fellow clones are harvested as spare parts for their original, outside world counterparts. He then returns to his compound to alert the other clones of their impending fates.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
The Clonus Horror (1979)
BUT WAS RIPPED OFF AS THE BETTER-KNOWN:
The Island (2005)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
Somehow, the rip-offs continue to win. While The Island isn't a masterpiece, Clonus can actually bore you to tears.
WORTH NOTING:
In both films, the male lead escapes down a steel corridor, across a catwalk, through a drainage pipe, across a desert, and ends up on a rocky bluff, overlooking his surroundings.

PLOT: A group of amateur filmmakers journey into the wilderness, hoping to capture footage of a territorial legend. Little do they know, there's truth to this legend, and something evil is actually lurking amongst the trees. Pretty soon, the token scared girl is crying into the camera and everyone's arguing like children. When they start getting picked off, and only the cameraman is left alive, he rushes for safety, but is clobbered upside the skull by an unseen force.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
Cannibal Holocaust (1979)
BUT WAS RIPPED OFF AS THE BETTER-KNOWN:
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
Cannibal Holocaust is one of the most shocking movies ever made, but Blair Witch is just a better film.
WORTH NOTING:
The final "footage" in both films is of the camera falling to the ground and landing sideways, revealing one final shock.

PLOT: A lonely governess cares for two small children in a sprawling British estate. Soon, suspicions are raised that the mansion might be haunted and the woman begins a personal paranormal investigation. More terrifying than the strange intruders in her home, she eventually realizes that it may be the children themselves who harbor the supernatural secret she seeks.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
The Innocents (1961)
BUT WAS RIPPED OFF AS THE BETTER-KNOWN:
The Others (2001)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
A dead heat here. The Innocents is a chilling mystery, but The Others' twist ending is nice, added icing to the story. Its your call.
WORTH NOTING:
Makers of The Ring (a remake, itself) ripped off various creepy sounds from The Innocents to put onto its infamous cursed videotape. Did they credit the original? No way!

PLOT: A lone suburban teenager realizes that the block's new resident carries an ancient supernatural curse. The kid witnesses the evil neighbor take a date home, walk her to an open window, and then gets caught peeking at them exhibiting their supernatural bloodlust. Soon, the teen's best friend has been captured by the neighbor and made into one of them, but no one's buying the story. Looks like it's time to team up with a local TV show host to stop the ghoulish menace!
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
Fright Night (1985)
BUT WAS RIPPED OFF AS THE LESSER-KNOWN:
Never Cry Werewolf (2008)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
Finally, an original that just completely kicks the crap out of its rip-off. The only thing the rip-off has is Kevin Sorbo, but even he can't replace Roddy McDowall.
WORTH NOTING:
This is the only rip-off on my Top Ten that I actually second-guessed putting in, but the sheer balls that these guys had by trying to pass this off as a "Sci-Fi Original" somehow got it listed.

PLOT: A reptilian alien lands on Earth. It soon feels at home in the dense trees that cover most of its surface and begins to do what it does best - hunt. The hulking beast bleeds humans dry, but before it gets a chance to do additional damage to mankind, a team of tough-as-nails mercenaries decide to track it down, turning the extra-terrestrial hunter into the hunted.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
Without Warning (1980)
BUT WAS RIPPED OFF AS THE BETTER-KNOWN:
Predator (1987)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
Without Warning was never released on VHS or DVD. Predator is Predator.
WORTH NOTING:
7'2" actor Kevin Peter Hall played the alien hunter in both films.

PLOT: A young woman leaves the protection of her parents and wanders into the woods. Three strangers attack her, brutally raping and murdering the young woman. The criminals then flee the scene of their crime, and unintentionally end up at the home of their victim's parents. When the parents discover what has happened, they turn the tables on the murderers and calculatingly avenge their daughter.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
Jungfrukällan – The Virgin Spring (1960)
BUT WAS RIPPED OFF AS THE BETTER-KNOWN:
Last House on the Left (1972)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
Ingmar Bergman's original is a beautiful, haunting film – but the ferocity of Wes Craven's rip-off spiraled it into grindhouse infamy. Last House didn't win awards at Cannes, but it stills blows your mind.
WORTH NOTING:
The gruesome story, which was originally set in 14th century Sweden, was again used in 2005 for the colossal horror misfire, Chaos.

PLOT: A Chinese guy, a cocky American with too much luggage, and a handful of others board a galleon to a mysterious island where they are forced to take part in a secretive martial arts tournament. The guy who runs the place has a huge bodyguard who crushes people with his arms, but the cocky American eventually kills him. The token black guy gets beaten to death. The villain uses various illusions to trick our Chinese hero, but finally ends up getting impaled through the back.
THE ORIGINAL IDEA BELONGED TO:
Enter the Dragon (1973)
BUT WAS RIPPED OFF AS THE EQUALLY-WELL-KNOWN:
Mortal Kombat (1995)
WHO DID IT BETTER:
Enter the Dragon. Robin Shou doesn't hold a candle to Bruce Lee… and the original's got John Saxon. Saxon always wins.
WORTH NOTING:
John Saxon does not get frostbite. John Saxon bites frost.


Other honorable mentions can go to many more obvious rip-offs, such as Disturbia (Rear Window); A Fistful of Dollars (Yojimbo); Miller's Crossing (The Glass Key); and the "inspiration for" (i.e. complete plot of) Star Wars, The Hidden Fortress. The reason they, and many others, weren't listed here was because their filmmakers have actually admitted to "borrowing" techniques from the originals.

I realize there's not a lot of wacky Ted opinion in this blog, so if you don't feel like commenting, don't worry about it. I just needed to write about movies.

You geeks probably know how that can be. - Ted Geoghegan