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10 Fan Films That Are Better Than Most Hollywood Movies

Aaron Short

In order to adapt a movie franchise, there is an insane amount of legal red tape to go through. Even after acquiring the rights to a franchise, Hollywood still manages to put out terrible sequels and adaptations fairly often. However, there are dozens of fantastic movies on the Internet that have been created entirely by fans, and some of them are better than most Hollywood movies—even though they lack the inflated budgets.

10 Dr Who
“The Doctor Is Dying”

Chameleon Circuit are a Doctor Who-themed band who invented “trock” (time lord rock) and managed to achieve some mainstream success by reaching the charts with their singles and albums. Earlier in 2013, Alex Day and Chameleon Circuit managed to impress BBC so much that they allowed them to use the official TARDIS set to shoot one of their music videos during Youtube’s Geek Week. However, “The Doctor Is Dying” is an animated video.

Although the animation may be a little crude by some people’s standards, this video really manages to be relevant to Dr Who canon, summing up the final events of David Tennant’s role as The Doctor in two minutes of manic fan service that manages to be entertaining and even a little sad (given the events of “The Day Of The Doctor”).


9 “The Punisher: Dirty Laundry”

Thomas Jane (who played The Punisher in the official 2004 movie) funded and helped produce this unofficial sequel starring himself and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons Of Anarchy) instead of starring in the official sequel, which he believed would be terrible. Apparently, Jane is a huge fan of The Punisher comics and fought hard to research his source material and keep himself in shape in order to accurately portray Frank Castle. Jane describes his short as a “love letter to Frank Castle and his fans.” Originally, Dirty Laundry was made for his own enjoyment and to be privately viewed at Comic-Con conventions. However, Jane thought short was so good that he posted it on YouTube.

“Dirty Laundry” itself acts as an unofficial sequel to the 2004 movie, with a washed-up Frank Castle trying to launder his clothes while witnessing (and ignoring) some violent street crime. At first, a tired Frank Castle ignores the criminals as if he’s given up being The Punisher—before defeating the entire gang with a mere bottle of Jack Daniels.

8 Batman: Dead End

Batman: Dead End is a 2003 fan-made film directed by Sandy Collora that was praised by comic book aficionados such as Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats), who called it “The truest Batman film ever made.” Sandy Collora spent $30,000 of his own money on the film—not a lot of money when you consider that Batman and Robin had a budget of over $100 million, yet is regularly touted as one of the worst films ever made. Collora later went on to make legit movies like Hunter/Prey. We don’t want to ruin the surprise by talking too much about the content of Dead End before you have a chance to watch it for yourselves, but we will tell you that Dead End features cameos from not one, but two of the greatest monsters in movie history.

7 “Ryan Vs. Dorkman”

When we were kids, we all had imaginary lightsaber fights with cardboard tubes. According to the story accompanying the video on theforce.net (where this video originated), Ryan and Dorkman were forum users who started off as rivals. Each wanted to prove their skill at lightsaber fight choreography (plus special effects and editing) in order to win a competition. Eventually they realized that their chances of winning would be doubled if they worked together. “Ryan Vs. Dorkman” is the result.

According to their official website, neither Ryan nor Dorkman have any official martial arts training. (They’ve just seen a lot of movies.) But they’re obviously quite good at dueling. After being uploaded to YouTube in the early 2000s, the video went viral, garnering millions of views and going on to be referenced by Weezer in the video for “Pork and Beans” and making Time Magazine’s list of best Star Wars fan films.

6 Mario Indie Movie Trailer

This short was created as part of a series of “bumpers” for the SXSW film festival (a bumper is a short meant to be played before the features) by Austin based filmmaker Joe Nicolosi at a budget of only $400. It starts off looking like a gritty independent film before going on to tease us with what we were promised by the 1990s Super Mario Bros film: a gritty Mario movie that somehow manages to balance the colorful mushroom-popping world of the games with reality. Here, Mario is depicted as a washed-up plumber with a mushroom problem and his princess is in another castle (figuratively speaking). She’s dating a tool called Koopa. Can Mario come up with a creative solution to this problem just like in the game? Well, he takes some mushrooms and jumps on Koopas head, so kind of.


5 Half-Life
“Enter The Freeman”

If any game has been absolutely clamoring for a movie adaptation, it’s Half-Life. Of course, any film version would be under immense pressure to live up to the sort of quality we’ve come to expect from the Half-Life series. Luckily, “Enter The Freeman” doesn’t disappoint. The atmosphere is creepy, the acting is believable, and there’s headcrab zombies and Gordon Freeman armed with a crowbar.

If you enjoyed the short, you’ll be glad to know that there will hopefully be a full series on the way, depending on whether or not the filmmakers manage to raise enough on Kickstarter to fund the project. And if you’re interested in dressing up as Gordon Freeman next Halloween (or just for fun), Ian James Duncan explains how he made Freeman’s iconic suit in great detail on his website.

4 “Deadpool: A Typical Tuesday”

Deadpool remains one of the most popular comic book characters to not yet get his own movie adaptation (though he did appear as a minor character in Wolverine: Origins), and it’s not hard to see why. Deadpool really stands apart from most comic book heroes. For a start, he’s not really “heroic” in any sense of the word, he’s hideously disfigured, and he’s quite insane. Hollywood would likely struggle to make a passable version of him that appealed to non-fans while staying true to the source material (as we saw with Ryan Reynolds’s portrayal in Wolverine: Origins).

Luckily, this fan-made adaptation managed to hit the mark, allowing Deadpool’s borderline psychotic persona to be fully realized in this manic piece of genius fun. “Deadpool: A Typical Tuesday” is the product of Keith Brooks and Trevor Garner (who plays Deadpool), shot over two days, at a budget of $500, and in a borrowed studio with completely random props.

3 “Spider-Man: Eclipse”

We’ve already had some good Spider-Man movies, so this fan film has a lot to live up to. It opens with Peter Parker unmasked, beaten, and tied up in a room. He makes his escape in a great combination of fighting choreography, parkour, and awesome CGI (for the webbing). And even though it doesn’t contain any of the huge set pieces that we’ve grown used to, it still manages to create the illusion that Spider-Man is a real guy, which is pretty impressive in itself.

“Spider-Man: Eclipse” was independently made by Bokeh pictures as a challenge to The Amazing Spider-Man. According to their website, they wanted to portray the character in a darker, more visceral, and more realistic fashion

2 “Pac-Man: The Movie”

Most people would think that a game about a yellow semicircle who runs through a never-ending techno maze, eats cherries and is alternately chasing and being chased by ghosts would be impossible to adapt. But this film manages to do it and look fantastic at the same time. Made by production company Steelhouse under the working title of “Project Yellow Sphere,” this Pac-Man fan film has Hollywood levels of quality. We’d bet that this is what Tron: Legacy was going for, even though the Pac-Man filmmakers likely only had a fraction of the budget.

In order to give the film a plot, Pac-Man is now a virtual reality construct in a secret underground research facility. He runs around and gobbles up dots and equally virtual ghosts. . . for science? But that’s all we’re going to tell you, if you want to find out more you’ll just have to watch the film.

1 Left 4 Dead
“Impulse 76″

“Impulse 76″ is the product of Northern Five Entertainment and features an epic (for a fan-film) cast of over 60 zombie extras. This cinematic version of the popular zombie shooter Left 4 Dead manages to create a realistic-looking city under siege by flesh eating zombies. It not only matches the game in terms of atmosphere, but the actors are superb at portraying their computer game counterparts: Francis, Bill, Zoey, Wade, and Louis. The video starts off like an episode of The Walking Dead, then there’s an abrupt twist that takes the video from zero to awesome in no time flat. We won’t ruin it for you, but make sure you watch all the way through for the twist. Here’s a hint: There are cameos. So many cameos.

Aaron Short is a film student who sometimes writes for Cracked. You can join him on Twitter here if you share a love of Doctor Who and Bill Murray.