Irony and exploitation

I recently wrote up a review of "Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls", an Asylum mockbuster meant to cash in on the return of Indiana Jones when I was struck by the strangest thought:

In spite of a current generation of high profile directors who go out of their way to craft whole movies with the intention of emulating that exploitation movie feel, The Asylum is probably the finest example I can think of of a contemporary production company that carries that grindhouse torch. "Pirates of the Caribbean" becomes a massive worldwide phenomenon, days after "Dead Man's Chest's" theatrical release, The Asylum launches "Pirates of Treasure Island". "Snakes On A Plane" hits theaters, days later, The Asylum releases "Snakes On A Train". Same for "Transformers"/"Transmorphers", "Street Racers"/"2 Fast 2 Furious" and the upcoming "Death Race 2000"/"Death Racers". You name it and The Asylum probably has some knock off in production for the tiniest fraction of the blockbuster's budget. Because of this, they make a shitload of money!

Here we are, a year later and still feeling the shockwaves from the Tarantino/Rodriguez failure of "Grindhouse", a movie that I feel everyone misunderstood. Seriously. I've heard stories of people complaining to theater management because the print looked like shit.

I enjoyed the hell out of the movie but I feel as though there is a contingency of directors these days trying their hardest to capture that exploitation movie feel, spending millions of dollars, casting reasonably big-deal actors and actresses, stocking their flicks with big special effects and missing the point in the meantime.

"Grindhouse" had a production budget of $67 million. Do you have any idea how many exploitation movies could have been made for that kind of money? The movie flopped through no fault of Tarantino or Rodriguez but it goes to the show the irony of spending that much money on a movie that is deliberately made to be a piece of crap. There could be a lesson to be learned here but what do I know? I just write about movies.

For this Bizarro world revelation, I contend that as bad as the Asylum's movies are, they get it. They are the real deal in terms of exploitation movie production. Every movie they produce is in the interest of exploiting a big deal Hollywood blockbuster. If I may be so bold, everyone else in the Hollywood system is just a wannabe.

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