Six “Groundbreaking” Horror Films That Stole Their Plot From Other Horror Films


Let’s face it, horror fans are not the most critical of movie analysts. Most of the attendees will spend the entire film trying to perfect that “yawn, put your arm around her, cop a feel” technique. Which is why films are often praised as revolutionary, when there’s actually nothing original about them.

Here are 6 examples of critically acclaimed movies that were actually following an established formula.

The Blair Witch Project

1 the blair witch project

Was Really a Ripoff of:

2 cannibal

The Blair Witch Project used shaky first-person camera footage to bring a new sense of immersion to the viewer. Only a few morons ever thought the film was actually real. Well, a few morons and myself. About two months before the release of the Blair Witch Project, my friends showed me a bootleg copy they had gotten from a friend of a friend. In fact, the tape had passed through so many hands that we had no idea that it was a feature film (it wasn’t framed with those townie interviews, just clips of kids in the woods). So we were kind of freaked out when we saw the footage. Not only that, but it made me extremely unpopular at parties for the next two months (“Hey, have you seen that tape where it’s a bunch of kids like, freaking out in the woods and dancing? Then they die, or something? Where are you going?”)

But 18 years before this film, there was an Italian film which ran the “oh, you think it’s real” game so good, the government was even fooled. In fact, they arrested the director on obscenity charges until he could prove that he didn’t kill any of the actors involved.

The parallels between this and the Blair Witch Project are quite notable. Both purport to present discovered documentary footage in the woods/jungle. The original film crew manages to piss off a witch/cannibal tribe, who proceeds to hunt and butcher all.

What made the original so much more believable was that the director was an unenviable douchebag. He required many real-life animal killings on film, which the stars often refused to do. He tried to screw everyone out of payment, even failing to pay local villagers who appeared as extras. He then made the principal actors sign contracts agreeing to not appear in any media for one year afterward, to enhance the notion that this truly was found footage. This plan backfired when he was arrested and accused of making a snuff film. Finally, he presented the actors to the court to show that, no, he did not kill them on camera. We can only imagine the Italian courts summoning the Blair Witch to stand trial.

Friday the 13th parts II through MCLXII

3 friday

Was Really a Ripoff of:

4 halloween

The original Friday the 13th is about a bereaved mother, who thinks her son died of camp negligence, taking vengeance on modern day sex-distracted camp counselors. Okay, that was original. But the next ten or so installments deal with her son murdering people with a giant knife.

See if this sounds familiar: on a very scary date, a man who suffered horrific trauma as a child comes alive and starts murdering teens with a big knife. What film are we talking about? Friday the 13th part II or Halloween? It could be either. The films got even more similar in Friday the 13th part III when Jason’s iconic hockey mask is introduced, striking a parallel with Michael Myers classic Halloween mask. Halloween is the third-highest grossing horror film franchise of all time, but it’s topped by the Friday the 13th series. Probably because teenagers having sex is more fun to watch than Jamie Lee Curtis and some kids, but what do we know?

5 jamie lee curtis and some kids


6 alien

Was Really a Ripoff of:

7 terror

Alien was an amazing Ridley Scott film. In it, a back-when-she-was-hot Sigourney Weaver is sent to investigate an alien planet. After departing the planet, it turns out that an alien has totally had sex with one of the crew’s faces. Damn aliens, always have to be the heavy. The newborn extraterrestrial bursts from the man’s chest in a scene that looks almost as painful as childbirth. Everyone tries to kill it with guns and flamethrowers and all sorts of crazy weapons. Then the creature stalks and kills crew members until it is finally destroyed by decompression.

This 1979 movie has an amazing number of similarities to the 1958 classic It! The Terror from Beyond Space. In It!, a space crew is ordered to investigate a series of deaths on Mars. They end up unwittingly picking up a murderous space monster. The monster then stalks them from room to room. The crew tries all sorts of high-tech, futuristic anti-armor weaponry to fight off the alien, to no avail. Finally the rubber-suit-wearing man disguised as “the monster” is killed by decompression.

It! was popular, but by no means the smash-hit, series-spawning success of Alien. A large part of this is due to the fact that space explorers couldn’t be sexy women in the earlier film. Because, you know, it was the 1950s.

Evil Dead

8 evil dead

Was Really a Ripoff of:

9 equinox

Evil Dead is a classic early 1980s tale about a group of kids who go into the deep woods and discover an ancient book. Unwittingly summoning demons, they must destroy them all lest they perish and become possessed. The film launched Bruce Campbell into his successful career as “that guy from Evil Dead.” In addition, it netted tens of millions of dollars in profits.

But before this horror take redefined zombie movies, there was a lesser-known film made in 1970 called Equinox. In this film, a group of bouncy teens travel deep into the woods, discover an ancient book of evil, battle demons, and sometimes become posthumously possessed. This film was made by a student at business college for the low sum of $6500. Eventually it was picked up for national release, making that student either the luckiest or most well-connected person in Tinseltown.

However, Equinox can’t hold a candle to Evil Dead based on the category of “number of trees which rape people.” Evil dead firmly wins that battle with one point. What’s even sadder is, if we dig deep enough, we can probably establish the claim that this scene was a ripoff of some Wizard of Oz porno parody.


10 predator

Was Really a Ripoff of:

11 without warning

Predator was an awesome Schwarzenegger film about a weird, reptile-like alien. This alien lives in the woods and starts hunting humans. Then a team of mercenaries is sent in to kill it. After a huge battle, mankind finally wins. It’s interesting to note that this film contains not one, but two future state governors: Jesse Ventura acted alongside Arnold.

Without Warning was a cheesy 1980 flick about a humanoid reptile stalking, then killing its human prey. Eventually, things are put right when some teenage kids kill it. While that plot duplication alone might not have been enough for us to cry foul, what is damning is the fact that the monster in both movies was played by the same guy. Although, Predator makes things much cooler in several respects. First, it’s set in the spectacular South American rainforest. Second, Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger make a hell of a lot better monster fighters than “some teenage kids.”


12 disturbia

Was Really a Ripoff of:

13 rear window

This is probably the most damning ripoff of them all, as the 2007 film took the main story to Rear Window without paying for any of the rights. Shia LaBeouf stars as some kid who gets house arrested then spies on his murderous neighbor. This film grossed over 100 million dollars. Rihanna wrote a song about it or some shit.

We’d tell you more about the plot to the 1954 Hitchcock Thriller Rear Window, except we just did. Housebound guy spies on neighbor who axed his wife. Except this classic features silver screen legends James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr. The Shia LeBouf version features, well, Shia LeBouf. And that one Asian guy.


That’s him. Anyway, while occasionally adding new twists (see The Others vs. The Innocents), sometimes horror filmmakers just change a few names and locations and call it proprietary. Based on this formula, we’re going to make a movie called “Psychotic Tax Day” about a masked man who knifes pretty tax dodgers in the shower. Now taking investments.

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