7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

#3. The Village Shares a Plot With a 1995 Novel

The Village is the type of M. Night Shyamalan movie he was still making back in the late '90s: It followed the simple yet lucrative formula of atmosphere + spooky twist = money. In it, a group of old-timey folks living in a village are unaware that they're actually living in a nature reserve in the present day and have access to toilet paper not made from bark and stinging nettles.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Running Out of Time is a 1995 novel that sold around half a million copies. The plot revolves around an 1840s village that doesn't know that it's not really an 1840s village. It's actually 1995, and they live in a fake village set up in the middle of a nature reserve.

We hope that girl is calling her lawyer.

Just like The Village, a girl goes on a quest to get medical supplies to cure diseases. But there's a conspiracy theory by community leaders to keep the truth hidden from the village's residents.

Anyone who lived in the suburbs knows the same basic story.

The only real difference between The Village and Running Out of Time is the reason for the village's existence. In Running Out of Time, the village is part of a genetic experiment. In The Village, it is because the village elders wanted to go back to a simpler time before everyone's lives were ruled by Facebook.

Little did they know they'd been infiltrated by Mark Zuckerberg.

There was initially some lawyer talk, like "reviewing our legal options," from the book's publishers, which we all know basically translates to "Motherfucker, you stole my shit." But that was in 2004 and, as usual, those accusations quietly went away.

#2. Poltergeist Might Be Ripped Off from a Twilight Zone Episode

Poltergeist was the movie that taught us that building on Indian burial grounds was a bad thing. The latter half of the movie sees Carol Anne -- the archetypal creepy haunted kid from every horror movie ever -- trapped in another dimension by ghosts, but somehow retained within the walls of their haunted house.

Yet another reason to rent.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

"Little Girl Lost" is an episode of The Twilight Zone in which a girl is trapped between dimensions within her house as her parents and a scientist agonize over how to rescue her before finally deciding that one of her parents will have to venture into the other dimension to bring her out. The only difference between this episode and Poltergeist is that in "Little Girl Lost," the parents are helped by a scientist. In Poltergeist, that character is replaced by a psychic.

Both films feature a parent venturing into the other dimension to rescue the little girl. In Poltergeist the mom goes in, and in Little Girl Lost it's the dad -- because, you know, the 1950s and whatnot.

This could still be a coincidence, except that, according to author Andrew Gordon in his book Empire of Dreams, Spielberg was directly influenced by this episode and asked for a copy to watch while working on the script for Poltergeist. Apparently Spielberg has a broad definition of the term "inspiration."

#1. Ted Is Very Similar to a Comic Strip

Seth MacFarlane is the animator behind three American cartoon series, all of which are family sitcoms about a dumb guy, his smarter wife, and a talking alcoholic animal of some kind. In 2012, he broke form with Ted, a feature film about a dumb guy, his smarter fiance, and a talking alcoholic teddy bear.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Imagine This is about a 30-something slacker who lives with a sentient, foul-mouthed teddy bear called Clovis. Clovis is an alcoholic.


Clovis was brought to life by a lonely child's wish, just like Ted was.

Imagine This!

But Imagine This came out waaaay back in the distant past of 2008, when Seth MacFarlane was still only stealing from '80s movies. As such, it contains fewer recycled Family Guy jokes.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Stewie Griffin is a ripoff, too.

Of course, there's no direct evidence that MacFarlane was influenced by the comic strip (nobody's seen him reading a copy at the bus stop or anything), and MacFarlane is keeping his lips sealed about the matter. But the comic's creator said he was "devastated" after hearing about the similarities. Either that, or he's just upset that his characters fall so neatly into the MacFarlane archetype.

Aaron Short is a film student, writer, and prolific lover of women. He has a blog about movies and stuff here.

For more unoriginal tripe, check out 5 Insanely Successful Video Games That Were Total Ripoffs and The 6 Most Psychotic Ripoffs of Famous Animated Films.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out How One Man Tricked China Into Building a Giant Dong.

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