10 Rip-Off Movies (That Messed Up What They Copied)

When the knock off hasn't got a handle on what audiences were after...

Repo To Repo Men
Universal Pictures

Rip offs are almost as inevitable as sequels when a flick is an unexpected sleeper hit, and it’s hard to blame opportunistic filmmakers for trying to play follow the leader when one of their competitors stumbles across a successful formula. That said, not all rip offs are awful news.

Sure, the term may not be a compliment strictly speaking, but many movies that would go on to be seen as all-time classics began their life as cheap knock offs designed to drum up a few bucks based on the residual goodwill of their predecessors.

It might not shock you to learn Sean S Cunningham’s unkillable Friday the 13th franchise started its life as a shameless Halloween clone, but it’s worth remembering that Halloween helmer John Carpenter himself originally pitched Halloween as a sequel to director Bob Clark’s unexpected success Black Christmas.

Meanwhile, we may now know Alien as a blockbuster franchise in its own right, but the alluring simplicity of “Jaws in Space” was initially used to grab attention when Dan O’Bannon’s first draft script was doing the rounds.

That said, where most rip offs fall short isn’t in the intention but the execution. It’s one thing to try and ape a popular hit, but it’s another thing entirely when you miss the mark by forgetting what made the original film a success in the first place…

10. Tomcats Failed To Capture American Pie's Heart

Repo To Repo Men
Sony Pictures Releasing

When American Pie and Road Trip (directed by future Oscar nominee Todd Philips, trivia fans) graced our screens at the turn of the millennium, it became clear that the trend of gross out comedies begun by brothers Wayans and Farellys had produced a new breed of sweeter, more sensitive teen sex comedies.

The movies weren’t lacking in explicit content, with both flicks packed full of ribald and raunchy scenes of cringeworthy sexual exploits. However, there was a vein of good humour which ran through them that was absent in their predecessors from decades earlier.

Where Bob Clark’s Porky’s and the later Revenge of the Nerds revelled in the misanthropic side of crude humour, Road Trip and American Pie centred around surprisingly tender love stories under the surface-level pools of s**t and, er, other bodily secretions.

So, when Tomcats was released only a year later, it was guaranteed to be a sure-fire success, right? An actual rom com which focused on a love story first and added the R-rated raunch after, it couldn’t help but see the same love from audiences as Road Trip and American Pie - right?

Despite the presence of American Pie starlet Shannon Elizabeth and antics ranging from a dominatrix librarian to a messy semen collection scene, the film had no heart, and failed to connect with critics and audiences.

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