They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also one of the laziest forms of filmmaking. Just as countless imitators sprung up to try and recapture the space fantasy magic of Star Wars following its 1977 release, dozens of filmmakers tried their hand at reproducing the claustrophobic body horror of Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic Alien too. While Alien has had its fair share of canonical sequels — including the upcoming Alien: Covenant, which you can read our review of right here — it has had even more low-budget, shameless rip-offs. In honor of a new Alien movie chestbursting its way into theaters this week, on today’s episode of The Dan Cave, we’re wading through the muck and the mire to showcase the best worst Alien rip-offs ever made.
Ah, Italy…is there anything they can’t remake cheaply and crappily in an effort to make a quick buck? Even spaghetti began its existence as a low-budget reboot of England’s famous “floppy bread rope.” Fittingly, in order to make the quintessential Alien knockoff, it took the famed Italian exploitation director Luigi Cozzi, who also made the batshit crazy Star Wars rip-off Starcrash. Renamed Alien Contamination in the United States in order to double down on the brand association, Contamination features a weird one-eyed vagina monster laying eggs that spray people with a toxic goo that makes them explode. The best part is that they didn’t have the money to set it in space, so it takes place in New York City for some reason. Honestly, though, this bonkers voyage in the bargain bin of history is worth it for the sweet Goblin score alone.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pouTM3jqZCMHow do you make your Alien rip-off seem like less of an Alien rip-off? Easy! You set it in the next best thing to outer space: under the sea. DeepStar Six follows a group of scientists and Navy crewmen who are stationed on an underwater missile silo, which they discover is on top of a massive network of caverns. Of course, what lies beneath is a murdermonster that looks like a hermit crab who ate nothing but steroids and PCP every day for a year. The film has everything: accidental harpoon deaths, hallucinogenic episodes, and a literal chestburster — by which I mean guy who forgets to properly decompress and is subsequently exploded like a blood-filled meat balloon during his rapid ascent.
I want to wash my mouth out just typing that title. If your main complaint about Alien was that it was too subtle and wasn’t rapey enough, then you’re in luck, you creep. Everything about Inseminoid is an assault on good taste, right down to its poster which features a nightmarish space-baby emerging from a womb to shoot jizz-lasers at a pair of astronauts. It’s a surreal, sleazy, and all around uncomfortable story of a foreign body invading our own in the most gruesome way possible. Add in chainsaw amputations, harpoon guns, and more grisly deaths than you can shake a severed limb at, and you have a cult classic for real slimeballs.
Galaxy of Terror
Roger Corman is, perhaps, the master of purveying B-movie schlock, and his take on Alien didn’t disappoint. With a young James Cameron serving as second unit director and a cast including Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street) and Erin Moran (Happy Days), Galaxy of Terror not only recycled ideas from Alien, but footage from a Corman Star Wars/Magnificent Seven rip-off Battle Beyond the Stars. The basic premise is that a spaceship crew winds up on a planet with a facehugger-style creature that takes the form of what they fear most. In the case of one unfortunate crew member, that leads to a particularly vile rape scene in which she is sexually assaulted by a worm creature. It is as stomach-churning and gross as it sounds, so let’s just move on to the next one, shall we?
If you’re going to get someone to shamelessly pilfer H.R. Giger’s iconic xenomorph design, you damn well hire a master of the craft like Stan Winston. The man who would one day bring us Jurassic Park also brought us a bunch of creepy fanged slug-beasts in Charles Band’s ultra-shlocky Parasite. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where a criminal organization runs the world, and they accidentally create a deadly parasite that escapes. What follows is a whole lot of slugs bursting out of where they shouldn’t be bursting from and a young Demi Moore as a lemon grower because why the hell not.
It’s a tale as old as time: in the distant future, a research team creates a new, experimental life form that winds up murdering all its creators and everyone in the lab. Of course, the old adage “you are what you eat” proves to be the creature’s undoing when it eats a liver that is positively teeming with cancer. So, you know, uh, don’t eat cancer liver is the moral of this story I guess. Produced by schlockmaster general Roger Corman, this bananas film has more unnecessary nudity than Lenny Kravitz playing guitar in jeans that can’t contain his weenomorph.
In grand Roger Corman tradition, Creature ripped off another rip-off by reusing sets and props from Forbidden World to tell its story of — you guessed it — a bunch of explorers coming across a menacing alien lifeform in outer space. Unlike lesser knockoffs, Creature features, as my colleague Kyle Anderson likes to say, renowned German crazy person Klaus Kinski, as well as Lyman Ward, a.k.a. the dad from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Honestly, it’s well directed and it nails Alien‘s style fairly well, but it’s still like getting a Pepsi when what you really ordered was an end to police brutality.
If you thought you were going to go one week without hearing me talk about anime, think again, kouhai. Featuring characters designed by legendary Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano, Lily C.A.T.‘s plot might sound more than a little familiar: a crew of people working for an intergalactic mining concern awake from cryogenic sleep, and start dying off one by one due to a mysterious alien invader. The ostensible culprit here is a strange bacteria that can mimic the forms of various crew members, but the real villain is whoever approved the horrendous English dub. These bored-ass voiceover actors talk about things like murder, suicide, and the nightmarish chameleon beast hiding among them like they’re reading the iTunes terms and conditions agreement. And just in case you were wondering, yes there’s a robotic cat that secretly takes control of the ship.
Yet another dumb-as-hell anime knockoff of Alien, Roots Search follows a research team in isolated, deep space that discovers a seemingly derelict ship, The Green Planet, which contains a sole survivor named Buzz. Unfortunately, Buzz neglected to tell his rescuers that there was an alien onboard with a mouth that’d make Georgia O’Keefe blush that uses its psychic abilities to systematically murder everyone on board by using their insecurities and anxieties against them. So basically, it’s like if Persona 5 was cheaply made trash instead of the best RPG of the year.
Alien: Covenant hits theaters on May 20, 2017.
Which of these Alien rip-offs is your favorite? What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!
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