5 Knock out Foreign Knock-offs
So, I’ll start this list by saying most of these films may not actually be true knock-offs. There are no character names lifted from other films, no direct copying of plots across from bigger blockbusters and only one of the titles featured here references the film that inspired it. That said, none of these sleazy pleasers can boast that they got there first with their ideas, though some of the variations on theme and presentation make these films more memorable than their source material. A little forewarning to people who believe that nudity and sex should be justified by the plot; leave now, this list is not for you. In fact, the internet may not be a good place for you either and stay away from wild animal parks and farms. The critters in those places have no sense of decency whatsoever.
5. Lady Terminator (Indonesia 1989)
This Indonesian exploitation masterpiece is the purest knock off of the group. Tania is an American student who is just crazy about Indonesian anthropology. Unfortunately her studies are interrupted when the evil South Sea Queen, who has been imprisoned inside a glowing eel, gains entry to Tania’s soul through her pudendum. Eel on board, the buxom coed becomes a virtually indestructible killing machine. Her target is the great granddaughter of the man who confined the evil queen to anago skin 100 years prior. As luck would have the distaff terminator’s quarry also happens to be Indonesia’s answer to Martika and as such is none too hard to locate. But for the assassin (herself the proud owner of a very Sheila E. hairdo) killing the aspiring pop star will be a more difficult task than finding her. This is because “Speshal Sekuriti” expert Max McNeill is hot on the Lady Terminator’s very hot tail.
4. Four of the Apocalypse (Italy 1978)
This one isn’t a direct knock off so much as a late entry into the spaghetti western cash-in. It is a downbeat little tale about a band of four people (a pregnant prostitute, a gambler, an alcoholic and a developmentally delayed man) who narrowly escape a massacre that makes a ghost town of their prairie home. The film’s weighty, slowly unfolding vengeance story and the impossibly tall, dark, handsome Fabio Testi as Stubby would be enough to make it worth a single viewing. But it is the grungy and contemptible Chaco played by Tomas Milan that puts the film on a short list of worthy, second-tier western all'italiana.
3. Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (Italy 1985)
In the 80’s several Italian filmmakers got lost in the jungles of South America. They all returned with different stories. Guys like Umberto Lenzi and Ruggero Deodato came back with outrageous, ultraviolent films about jungle cannibals meting out Green Inferno justice on drug-addled white folk. Unable or unwilling to generate that kind of intensity and craze director Michele Massimo Tarantini returned with a goofy little comedy that failed on two fronts, as cannibal film and as an Indiana Jones knock-off. But as any serial viewer of Italian cinema can tell you failure is often the most fertile ground for fun. Lead actor Michael Spokiw is perfect as loosely principled ‘bone-hunter’ Kevin Hall, Suzane Carvalho is naked early and often and there’s a witchdoctor wearing Halloween Superstore claws in the middle of a Brazilian rainforest. In short, there is nothing not to like here.
2. School of the Holy Beast (Japan 1974)
What would say if I told you the greatest Nunspoiltation film ever made came out of Japan? Bullshit!? Well, you might be right because for my money “Flavia: The Heretic” is the best of the bunch and that one was made in Italy in 1974. But that same year some 6,000 miles to the east Japanese director Norifumi Suzuki was putting together the most beautifully shot piece of B&D exploitation ever set in a convent. Whether you like it rough or think pain should only be felt when something is wrong, this film is ridiculously sexy. Lead actress Yumi Takigawa will make you want to leave your significant other and find yourself a wayward Japanese catholic girl in need of some rose stem flagellation.
1. Night Train Murders aka Last Stop on the Night Train (Italy 1975)
“The Virgin Spring”/ “Last House on the Left” has its own little sub-sub genre in the knock-off cycle. “Last House on the Beach”, “Death Weekend”, “Hitch-Hike” and “The House at the Edge of the Park” are all riffs on the rape revenge structure. But few films in this class feature sheer brutality and chilling performances on par with this grim offering from under appreciated Italian director Aldo Lado. Captivating and repulsive this movie has a tight, oppressive atmosphere befitting its setting and a whale of creepy performance by Meril Macha.