“Shit, superman is taken? How about ‘Hero Dude’? No? Well let’s do some re-shoots and get this bitch distributed!”
Making it big in the American film industry requires talent, perseverance, knowing the right people, and a whole lot of luck. Unfortunately, not every American who wants to go into show business was born with Brad Pitt’s face or Willem Dafoe’s prodigious genitalia, and most dreams in Tinseltown end where they begin- holding back tears as you scrub semen stains off a producer’s couch. But there’s a strange and frankly wonderful niche among all the critically acclaimed Indie darlings and massive blockbuster hits that is lucrative enough to account for 90% of the DVDs your grandma buys for you at Walmart. That niche, of course, is the Mockbuster- super cheap, poorly CGI’d films that riff on popular blockbusters with names juuuust close enough to trick people into thinking “Wow, The Dark Knight’s on DVD for only $2.99! Weird that they didn’t spell it with the K, but whatever.”
One of these Mockbuster purveyors is Tomcat Films, now under the umbrella of Summer Hill Films. So we took one look at their offerings to the public and said to ourselves, hell yeah, let’s talk about the hilariously bad movies these guys have produced. And holy hell, did they not disappoint. So grab your off-brand popcorn and get ready for a master class in so-bad-they’re-good-and-then-bad-again movie making
Tomcat Films Makes The Best (Worst) Movies in America
Tomcat is, to quote their own About Us page, “a vertically integrated film sales, licensing and distribution company” that “specializes in the sub-distribution and licensing of film and TV product to buyers, distributors, broadcasters and industry participants.” If that sounds like a hot cup of business-speak boring, it is. Essentially, they sub-contract and distribute movies made by either producers or actors (the latter would almost have to be vanity projects), with a focus on Mockbuster films, though they’ve also done some low-budget femme fatale features (this they did, and we’re quoting again, “in collaboration with Penthouse Pet of the Year Runner Up, Veronica Ricci”).
When your biggest name star is the 2009 Penthouse Pet of the Year runner-up and lead actress in“Costumed Damsels in Distress” and two separate films entitled “Hot and Mean” you know you’re company’s going places.
Run by Ted Chalmers, they found viable commercial success by pitching one page ideas (like “What if Aquaman was called Fish Guy instead?”), giving the gig to whatever struggling writer is desperate enough to take it, and finding a novice director slash cousin who would want to go forward with filming. If this sounds like we’re insulting Tomcat films, you’re reading way too much into this. We respect the hell out of them. They know exactly what their making (campy and cheap Mockbusters) and who their audience is (grandmothers and Chinese DVD peddlers) and God Bless them for that.
So with an open mind and bleeding eyes, we’re going to present to you the five most comically bad films produced by the Tomcat films, because sometimes it’s nice to remind ourselves that if Batman v Superman actually tried to be complete shit it might actually be more fun to watch and make fun of.
Disaster Wars: Earthquake vs. Tsunami (2013)
We have no idea what movie this is trying to parody, but we do know that while “One Good Disaster Deserves Another!” is a pretty shitty tagline, it at least is better than their other tagline, which we shit you not is “Which ever one wins. We lose” which again, we shit you not, is 95% the same tagline as Alien vs. Predator. But what is this movie? Like, what’s the point of it? Is this supposed to be like Deep Impact meets 2012?
The plot is a word that is used to describe the story of a film, so it’s not very accurate to use the term here, but the synopsis of the film says that an underwater accident in the Marianas Trench (sure) sets off a tsunami towards the west coast (okay). In order to lessen the impact (um) scientists launch another underwater explosion (what) which makes the tsunami more powerful (duh) and makes it focus on Los Angeles (wait). There’s only one way to stop the tsunami (no there isn’t) and that (don’t do anything else) is to set off an Earthquake (oh for fuck’s sake) to neutralize it or whatever.
It’s apparently unwatchable! But it also has a half of a name that you might know… Joe Estevez! That’s right, Martin Sheen’s younger brother, Joe Estevez, is in this movie. He looks and sounds a lot like his brother, so his inclusion to this film almost (almost) lends it an air of gravitas. Except, it totally doesn’t. Joe Estevez has been in 275 movies (not a typo), and almost all of them are quick paychecks in comically bad movies. He plays a Mexican Nazi in Mexican American. He plays “Sheriff Bartlett” (oh come on) in Fangs vs. Spurs. He was in 10 movies in 2016 alone, and still his imdb “known for” section is limited to the films, and we’re not making up any of these titles, Death Row, Soultaker, Beach Babes from Beyond, and San Franpsycho.
Listen, Joe Estevez is a hero to everyone who makes a living grinding, but his inclusion in this film is not exactly an argument for its quality. Besides, disaster film spoofs are boring. Let’s bring in some superheroes.
Metal Man (2008)
According to imdb, Metal Man was the second film produced by Tomcat. It’s clearly an Iron Man spoof, but…is it? Part man, part machine, all hero sounds more like Robocop than Iron Man. Iron Man is about a rich asshole who builds himself a fucking tank to wear. He’s never part machine. But apparently it’s only the tag line that’s full of shit, because the movie is absolutely an Iron Man take, about a man with a metal combat suit that he uses to fight evil.
The bad guy in Metal Man, which sounds like, and actually now that we think of it, actually is, a bad guy in Mega Man, is named Reed, who has his own “Mecha Terror robot” as well as ninja henchmen, because what good is having henchmen if they can’t be ninjas? This movie is actually one of the more expensive films to come out of TomCat, with an estimated budget of $1,000,000, 75% of which had to have gone towards cocaine.
Anyway, this was the comically bad (average rating of 2.0 out of 10 on imdb, which is actually high for a Tomcat production) Mockbuster that started the trend. But Tomcat wasn’t done there. No, they had so many more places to take us.
Captain Battle: Legacy War (2013)
The most shocking part of this film? It’s a Captain America rip-off (shut up, that’s not the shocking part) that actually is based off a real comic book. You’d think that a film called Captain Battle: Legacy War came about when a guy named Gunther took some Molly before seeing Captain America and wouldn’t stop talking until his buddy Ted Chalmers agreed to make the film. But no, it’s actually a Golden-era comic book character. Who was, of course, a cheap knock-off of Captain America that consisted of “What if, like, he had…an eye patch?” So color us surprised at that little factoid.
Surprisingly, the film itself decides to both A- completely ignore the Captain America movies outside of being vaguely familiar that “serum” is a science-sounding thing that can be a stand-in for “magic” and B- completely ignore its actual source material. The real Captain Battle (God that name is still funny every time) was a World War I vet who lost his eye in battle and uses a bunch of inventions to fly and (actually) fucking melt people with a gun. He doesn’t actually have any powers, besides “deadly gadgets” and “poor depth perception” which honestly makes for a very liability-heavy superhero.
Not so in the film! No, Captain Battle: Legacy Winter (or CB:LW if you’re nasty) follows Sam Battle, a Gulf War vet who loses his eye in battle. His scientist friend, the awesomely named Brandon Storm, injects him with a secret serum, hoping to save his life.
Okay, so just hold on, because the synopsis of this film is about to go from “okay, whatever, movies are silly” to “I kind of have to see this movie even though I know I will hate every moment of it.”
Sam returns home (#thankyouforyourservice) and struggles to rejoin society. His father passed away, and war haunts him. Huh, that seems very profound and it’s a subject that film really should tackle more often and NEVERMIND FUCK THAT LET’S FIGHT SOME NAZIS! That’s right, while he was overseas, Sam’s town found itself overrun with Neo-Nazis (as they do). Around this time he discovers that the serum he was given also gives him superhuman strength and agility, which is good because the Alt-Right Neo-Nazis kidnap BRANDON STORM (shout his name with pride). Their leader, the Necromancer a, and we’re quoting imdb here, “blonde Aryan sorceress” (who, btw, is a redhead in the movie?) forces Brandon to raise the cloned body (omg) of Heinrich Himmler (OMG) from the dead (OOOMMMMGGGGG).
The rest of the film is pretty standard. He takes on the persona of Captain Battle, where he fights Neo-Nazis (natch) and an army of undead Third Reich soldiers (as they do). Also, you know how Captain America had Red Skull as a villain? You might be wondering “hey, so who’s that red-faced Nazi in the movie poster.”
Yup. We’ll give you a moment before we move on.
Alice in Murderland (2010)
It’s Alice’s birthday and her sorority girlfriends throw her a themed party. Everyone comes as their favorite, sexy character from Wonderland. The Jabberwocky wasn’t invited and brings murder and mayhem to the girls’ night out.
So…porn right? Sort of? All we know is that the imdb page for this is hilarious and definitely filled with people trolling the movie. Under Trivia, the only item listed is “seven of the girls in this movie were illiterate.” Under “goofs” it says “When in the studio scenes, in all the shots facing the door, the several crew members feet are clearly visible in the top left hand corner.” And the plot keywords for the film are murder, Alice in Wonderland, gore, slasher, independent film, and panties.
Also, the quotes page actually gives away who “the killer” is, and there is a discussion board question that reads “Help. Me.” from someone begging to be told how it ends so he doesn’t have to watch anymore of it.
So yeah, 1/10, would not watch again.
Which finally brings us to…
Aliens vs. Avatars (2011)
We assumed that this would be a play on the film Avatar, but amazingly that’s not the case. The synopsis states, “six college friends find themselves caught up in a cat and mouse hunt with a race of creatures who possess the ability to transform into anything from which it has consumed DNA.” First of all, do they still have college in space? This is nitpicky, but that doesn’t seem right. By the time we start exploring space in earnest, you’d have to call college something else. Star Trek calls it The Academy, for example. Star Wars calls it “how is it that these people that never went to school still now how to talk droid and understand Wookies?”
Anyway, we’re going on a limb here and saying that the “consumed DNA” thing is just a way to sneak in some alien-on-sexy-co-ed sex scenes right? Okay, just making sure. Anyway, we actually watched the trailer after writing the past paragraph, but in honor of the film’s quality, we won’t go back and edit it. Apparently, it’s not a space travel film. There are invisible aliens who are being hunted by Avatars, who are also aliens if we’re being technical, and it takes place on normal Earth.
Anyway, to really get an idea of what to expect from this, and all of TomCat’s wonderful creations, just watch this hilariously awkward and painfully slow moving scene entitled “best fight scene ever.” Go to the 2 minute mark and marvel at the splendor. Also, most of these movies are available to view on youtube for free, so…you’re welcome? Or we’re sorry. Probably the latter.