“So bad it’s good” is a concept that applies to all forms of media. Basically, it’s when something sucks so hard it’s Metacritic rating bottoms out and somehow finds itself below zero, at which point it becomes amazing. Here’s a list of 10 companies who seem to specialize in making exactly this kind of content, and do it so well that you kind of have to respect them.
10. Paranormal Entity and other mockbusters
The Asylum is a company perhaps best known for creating the Sharknado films, a series recognized as being the original innovator of the attacked-by-sharks-in-the-midst-of-a-natural-disaster genre. This isn’t all The Asylum has done, though, as the company is also known for being a pioneer of the “mockbuster” – essentially, films deliberately designed to ape and ride the coattails of more successful and established films.
Mockbusters released under The Asylum brand include Transmorphers, The Terminators, Paranormal Entity and even a movie called Snakes on a Train, which is about a Mayan curse that turns a woman into a giant snake (on a train). All of these movies are just legally distinct enough from the movie they’re ripping off to avoid a lawsuit, which is impressive in its own way when you consider just how close some of them skirt to stepping on toes of multi-billion dollar franchises. Examples of some of the more hilarious examples include Fast and the Fierce, Sinister Squad, and Independents’ Day – all of which are real movies The Asylum paid actual actors working for scale to star in.
The Asylum is also responsible for a frankly astonishing number of “vs” films, pitting every kind of cryptid and alien death-monster imaginable against one another. However, our personal favorite is a film simply titled Airplane vs. Volcano because that sounds like the most one-sided fight in history and we’re intrigued how it could be made into a 2-hour long movie. Damn it The Asylum, this is how you get people, isn’t it?
9. Gameloft proudly presents Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus
Gameloft is to video games what The Asylum is to films: a company that limps along in the shadow of a superior product feeding on the scraps. The company is infamous for pretty much only making blatant rip-offs of established video game franchises, but for mobile devices. Within the gaming ecosystem Gameloft is looked at with equal parts disdain and derision, mostly because it only ever releases sub-par, passable clones of better games. Games like Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus, a rip-off of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 so thinly veiled it could read the newspaper through a window covered in vaseline from 10 feet away. The company is considered a joke by most major gaming publications to the point that, when Gameloft announces a “new” game, most of them just make fun of it.
You wouldn’t know this checking in on Gameloft’s official website, though, because on the corporate side the company proudly boasts about being a trailblazing innovator on the mobile gaming market, bragging about the lucrative licensing deals it has managed to score over the years. You know, licenses for cult, critical darlings like Shrek 3 and and Desperate Housewives.
Which, on some level, you have to respect. It takes an almost heroic lack of self-awareness to spend literally years squeezing turds out onto the App store and then brag on your corporate page about that one time Shrek 3 gave you money.
8. Brightspark is Braver than any of us
A lot of Disney movies borrow liberally from public domain fairy tales. Stories like Cinderella, Brave, and The Princess and the Frog are all based on centuries old fairy tales anyone reading could go out and make their own movie about. The problem you’d likely run into, though, is that although Disney itself doesn’t own any of the fairy tales their films are based on, they do own the rights to the embellishments they’ve made. As a result, while you could make a movie based on The Bear (the fairy tale Brave is inspired by) you’d have to be really careful not to step on Disney’s toes.
Brightspark Studios decided to screw all that noise and went out of their way to rebrand films they’d already made specifically to make them look more like Disney films. The idea, presumably, being to capitalize on the success of already popular Disney releases by tricking less-than-observant parents into buying them. Brightspark releases include Braver, Tangled Up, and The Frog Prince – all of which had their covers redesigned to look almost identical to their Disney counterparts. Disney didn’t appreciate this and before long they were pointing the business end of a billion-dollar legal shotgun right at Brightspark.
But here’s the really ballsy part: when Brightspark was asked to comment on the obvious similarities between their products and Disney’s, they played dumb. So dumb, in fact, that they expressed puzzlement at the idea people would assume a film called Braver had anything to do with the Disney film Brave. For anyone who hasn’t seen Braver, we’d like to point out that, like Brave, it stars a green dress wearing princess with red hair. Yeah, that’s how close this film was to Disney’s… and Brightspark still thought they could get away with it.
7. Len Kabasinski is a national freaking treasure
Len Kabasinski is an actor, director, and possible hero who seems to nearly exclusively make terrible action movies with obnoxiously catchy butt-rock soundtracks and awful, stilted acting. All of which you’d assume would make them terrible, until you read the titles to these movies. Simply put, Kabasinski’s IMDb page reads like the set-list to to a Dragonforce concert. Angel of Reckoning, Ninja: Prophecy of Death, and Fist of the Vampire are all films he’s directed, produced, and starred in because, oh yeah, Kabasinski knows how to do cool ninja flips, too.
Naturally the guys over at Red Letter Media are huge Kabasinski fans, going as far as inviting him to appear on several of their shows, specifically in an episode fawning over crappy ninja movies. A favor Kabasinski returned by dressing up like a radioactive horse ninja for a joke movie they made for April Fool’s. Regardless of how you feel about Kabasinski’s films, you have to respect his dedication to schlock cinema.
6. Goophone, because G is two more than I
China, to put it simply, doesn’t care about copyright infringement. If something is popular in the west, you better believe that a subpar Chinese knockoff exists out there somewhere. Naturally, electronic devices are one of the most commonly counterfeited items in China, with smartphones especially being prone to imitation.
Goophone is one such company that specializes in making knockoff smartphones, which on its own isn’t that unusual. Lots of companies in China do that. However, Goophone is so ahead of the curve when it comes to ripping of rival manufacturers that they ripped the iPhone 5 before Apple had a chance to release it. But here’s the stinger: Goophone not only released a copycat iPhone 5 before Apple did, but they patented it, too.
The case never went anywhere, but can we all for a moment just appreciate the brazenness on display here? Goophone tried to block Apple from selling a phone they were ripping off by beating them to the punch and releasing it in China first.
5. Hero Mission: totally not Overwatch
Overwatch is a pretty awesome game… you know, if you enjoy fly-punching people off of cliffs as a sentient robo-gorilla. The popularity of the series, though, has seen a number of copycat games being made. None, however, are as on the nose as Hero Mission.
Released exclusively in China (because of course), Hero Mission is a game for phones that is so unapologetic in its wholesale theft of Overwatch assets you can’t help but give it a pass. With the exception of some minor changes, such as turning the aforementioned robo-gorilla into a panda (because, again, of course), everything in the game is stolen directly from Overwatch.
Actually, that’s not entirely fair, because the game doesn’t just rip off Overwatch. It also rips off Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars, since if a company as rich as Blizzard can’t sue you, it’s not like Disney can.
4. Harry Potter and the Leopard Walk Up-T0-Dragon
Believe it or not, that’s the actual title to a real knock off Harry Potter novel released in China around 2007. Countless books like this exist, but this one in particular is arguably the most hilarious. Why? Because it’s just the text for The Hobbit with Harry Potter’s name shoehorned in.
Yes, that’s right: someone, somewhere in China basically wrote Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings fan fiction and then sold it as an official sequel to one of the most popular franchises in history, and basically got away with it. Because let’s all be honest here, if JK Rowling released a sequel to one of the Harry Potter books that promised leopards we’d all buy it in a heartbeat
3. The Theorists, because The Big Bang Theory can’t be the bottom of the barrel
Regardless of your feelings on The Big Bang Theory most people can certainly admit that it is definitely a TV show. With consistently high ratings and viewing figures, the show may not be all that popular with the nerds it satirizes, but it’s certainly popular enough that the Belarusian government decided to rip it off.
Called The Theorists, the show is a shot-for-shot remake of the American version with all of the dialogue in Russian. The Theorists is so blatant in its theft that it even rips off the show’s opening credits, save for the theme song – meaning yes, Russia found a way to make The Big Bang Theory worse. Keep everything exactly the same, but remove the Barenaked Ladies song.
2. Kim Jong-il once kidnapped someone to make a Godzilla rip off
When you’re mostly known for the brutal subjugation of your own people and a cameo in Team America: World Police, the fact you once kidnapped someone and forced them to make a Godzilla rip-off tends to fall to the wayside. So let’s talk about that right now.
The Cliffs Notes version of the story is that in the 1970s, the pint-sized dictator arranged the kidnapping of a prominent South Korean director named Shin Sang-ok. Kim Jong-il then forced Sang-ok to make North Korean propaganda starring his wife, who Kim Jong-il also had kidnapped.
Kim Jong-il used his time with Sang-ok to indulge his creative side and also had the director make a bunch of fantasy films, one of which was an obvious Godzilla-inspired rip-off called Pulgasari. This is a film you can watch in its entirety on YouTube because it’s not like North Korea is going to sue you (we’ve embedded it above; thank us later). Say what you want about Kim Jong-il, you have to admit that it’s a pretty baller move to kidnap someone just to make your own version of a Godzilla movie.
1. Pen and Pixel are album cover gods
We’re going to be honest, everything else we’ve discussed today has been filler and this entire article was pitched and written solely as an excuse to show off Pen and Pixel album covers. Specializing in album covers for z-tier hip hop artists and rappers, Pen and Pixel produces god-tier results with what appears to be a budget of tens of dollars.
Almost every Pen and Pixel cover looks like someone threw the hip-hop dictionary into a blender and poured the result into a Wu-Tang name generator. They’re ostentatious, they’re ridiculous, and they’re all works of freaking art.
While lesser rappers are posing on album covers with their shirts off, rappers opting for the Pen and Pixel route are pictured literally dunking women through basketball hoops, pointing guns at giant dogs riding trains, and flying through space in a convertible. Perhaps the greatest Pen and Pixel cover, though, is for album Doin’ Thangs by Big Bear. Why? Because LOOK. AT. IT.
The album shows Mr. Bear chilling with lazily Photoshopped, diamond-studded grizzlies, all of whom are drinking from golden pimp cups and wearing baller-ass shades. This album cover is so perfect that if you hung it in the Louvre the Mona Lisa would burst into flames. If you made this album your profile picture on Tinder every woman within a 5-mile radius would need to be rushed to the hospital for broken fingers from swiping right so hard. It’s perfect and it’s amazing and we’re all better people having being graced by its majesty.