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Creator / The Asylum

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"I think Mockbusters are like store brands. Say you've got a cold and you walk into your local Walgreens for some medicine (and a pap smear). You see the Sudafed, and right next to it, in a box that looks remarkably similar to the national brand, the store's own 'Nasal Decongestant.' I don't think most people buy the store brand because they think it's really Sudafed in a different box. I think they buy it because they think it will be similar to Sudafed, only cheaper.
Just like our Mockbusters. They're similar to big studio films, only cheaper.
And shittier.
If that's possible."
Paul Bales, Partner/Administrator and Operations of The Asylum

The Asylum is an American production company located in Burbank, California. They are best known for producing horror and science fiction mockbuster films, disaster and monster movies and unofficial sequels, often with a lot more graphic violence and sex than their Hollywood competition in order to make up for their low production values.

The company can turn around a movie in four months. This makes it able to produce films on short notice in order to capitalize on the marketing and surging interests generated by blockbuster films. In order to do this, the movies use no-name actors (and/or has-beens) and cheap special effects. The company produces between ten and fifteen movies a year and has released over 300 films to date.

Founded in 1997 by former Village Roadshow executives, The Asylum started out as a run-of-the-mill, low-budget indie studio, specializing in horror films. Their first largely successful film was 2005's H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, which was produced to coincide with Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds (2005). This film's success, largely due to movie rental chains buying it in bulk in order to cash in on the Spielberg version, led The Asylum to its current business model. The company achieved Internet notoriety in 2009 with Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, whose trailer went viral on YouTube. Then in 2013 they repeated this phenomenon, to an even greater degree, with Sharknado.

In 2014 the studio made its first foray into TV production with the typically-shameless Zombie Apocalypse bandwagon-jumper Z Nation, which against pretty much all expectations has proven to be... not as completely horrible as its movies. It followed this up with Black Summer, which was streamed on Netflix, of all places.

In 2016, the studio branched out into CGI movies with the release of Izzie's Way Home.

As the quote shows, they are also fully aware of their status, and cheerfully admit it.

Their website can be found here.

Not affiliated with Asylum Visual Effects.



Commonly Associated Tropes

  • Artistic License: No need to get specific. We'd be here all day.
  • Author Appeal: A number of their films involve sharks for some reason.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: If they have any villain status, they certainly aren't shy about it.
  • Cool Boat: A particular shot of a battleship appears in several different films.
  • Copycat Cover
  • Downer Ending: Very common in early mockbusters.
  • Exploitation Film: Mockbusting aside, a lot of these films (especially the horror rip-offs) are like modern day Grindhouse flicks.
  • Freeze-Frame Introduction: They are using this tactic for a few movies of theirs, including Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Mega Piranha, where all the main characters are introduced with a still frame with their name and job description.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Apparently started producing mockbusters because "there's no market for originality", citing remakes and sequels in general - between constant profits and dismissal of several (but not all) lawsuits, they're not wrong.
  • Lighter and Softer: They have released way mir family-friendly film made by the company's standards.
    • The Christmas movies Golden Winter and Santa Claws from 2012 and 2014.
    • Most of their animated films.
    • Somewhere along the line they stopped killing off the protagonist at the end, possibly because anger at the popularity of derivative works was part of the motivation for their mockbusters.
  • Market-Based Title: 8213: Gacy House was renamed Paranormal Entity 2 in the UK, presumably because they feared British audiences wouldn't know who John Wayne Gacy was. Similarly, Anneliese: the Exorcist Tapes and 100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck were retitled as Paranormal Entity 3 and Paranormal Entity 4.
  • Network Decay: If you were to look at their output prior to 2005, you would be shocked to find some legitimate titles in their catalog, including stuff the company wouldn't release today. That's because The Asylum started out as a typical distributor/sales agent of independent films, with an emphasis on horror. Unfortunately, due to increasing competition from the likes of Lionsgate, they were left with bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. They decided to make their own original films, but what they were releasing was not popular in the Direct to Video market and was of dubious quality. Then they made an adaptation of War of the Worlds, around the same time the Steven Spielberg version was coming out. With the high number of orders coming from Blockbuster Video, The Asylum realized they could make profits releasing films that were derivative of the big studios' blockbusters. Thus, they became the Mockbuster company we all know and love today.
  • No Budget: Their films cost no more than a few million dollars to make.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Titanic II isn't actually a sequel to Titanic. It's about a modern Titanic replica that runs into iceberg trouble.
  • No-Sell: If they do the research in one area, it's the extent of making movies different enough to avoid lawsuits; subverted in that on rare occasions, lawsuits do have an effect.
  • Public Domain Character: Allan Quatermain, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, multiple fairy tale characters.
  • Public Domain Stories: Journey to the Center of the Earth, The War of the Worlds, Moby-Dick, Princess of Mars, Land That Time Forgot
  • Rereleased for Free: The Asylum has a channel on ViacomCBS' streaming service Pluto TV, showing its movies with the exception of Sharknado for free streaming, while YouTube's Movie Central, Sci-Fi Central and Horror Central channels owned by Australia-based Valleyarm uploaded its movies for free streaming in 2020.
  • Self-Deprecation: See the page quote. They have no problem about making fun of themselves.
  • Series Mascot: Sharks pop up a lot, don't they?
  • Stylistic Suck: Possibly. If nothing else, Scott Foy of Dread Central commented on how their early (then-current) mockbusters were a step down from their earlier films (which some horror sites were fairly impressed by), while the now-defunct SlasherPool noted Hillside Cannibals wasn't just worse than their earlier Detour but a lot worse; how much, if any, of this was intended as part of the middle finger at sequels and remakes is unclear.
  • Title by Number: Look at all the examples of numeric and "Number of Objects" Title up there. Like other current B-movie makers, they've obviously picked up on how the alphabetic sorting on Netflix and other streamers puts numbered titles first, placing their efforts at the front of the queue of people searching for anything to watch.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: A number of their horror stories are mockbusters of current movies, but loosely based off of actual people and locations, e.g. the last three Paranormal Entity films.
  • Working Title: Several mockbusters actually started off as non-mockbusters - Transmorphers was originally Robot Wars, 100,000 B.C. was originally Prehistoric and so on.