Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Fake Movies We Wish We Could Watch For Real

The world has given us a lot of movies, but we're going to show a shocking lack of gratitude and point out that sometimes it makes us want movies that don't actually exist. We hate that these cases leave us destined for disappointment. Alas, TV and movies continue to excel at inventing fake films that only exist within their own narratives, and we continue to fruitlessly pine for them.

Most of them, admittedly, probably aren't very good. Campy movies full of so-bad-they're-good charm are undoubtedly the most fun for real writers and directors to design, so the fake movie landscape is littered with colorful (and execrable) parodies meant to make us laugh and cringe at the same time. Sure, maybe the Academy Awards wouldn't be interested in most of these. But we are. Sometimes these kinds of entertaining disasters are just plain fun. And on occasion, we'll even wind up with a fake movie that feels like it would be a genuine masterpiece — if only we could actually get our hands on it. That's even more frustrating.

If someone wants to sort out who owns these movies-within-movies and get some of these into production, they would have our heartfelt gratitude. Here are the fake movies we wish we could see for real.

The Rural Juror

Like the entire cast of "30 Rock," we can't pronounce the title of Jenna Maroney's legal drama, "The Rural Juror." That's why we want to see it: We have to hear more people mangle these two words, because with them, Tina Fey hit upon an unexpected comedic goldmine.

The Orange County Register quotes Fey on the episode's origins: "It came out of a discussion in the writers' room last June ... I said, 'You know what two words I cannot pronounce properly?'" Thus comes one of the show's best early episodes, where everyone realizes that they've never fully understood what movie their coworker was filming: "Roar Her, Gem Her"? "Oral Germ Whore"? Or the classic "Ruhhr Juhhrr"?

This fictional movie has another joke buried in it, too. It's based on a novel by "Kevin Grisham" — and given the unpronounceable title and the fact that the lead has the cringeworthy and on-the-nose name Constance Justice, Kevin is clearly the lesser Grisham. All of this doesn't add up to a good movie, no matter what the crew of "TGS with Tracy Jordan" might think, but we're betting it would make for an outrageously fun bad movie night.

The Itchy and Scratchy Movie

In "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie," Season 4, Episode 6 of "The Simpsons," the kids of Springfield rejoice as an "Itchy and Scratchy" movie hits theaters — and Homer hits upon a diabolical, foolproof punishment for Bart's off-the-charts irresponsibility: He's not allowed to see it.

Much to Bart's horror, no amount of begging will make Homer cave. He's convinced that if he doesn't make this punishment stick, Bart will never acquire the discipline he needs to get his life together. Meanwhile, Bart faces the daily agony of hearing every other kid he knows extoll the movie's virtues. When he fishes for someone to say that it's not that great and that they must be bored with it by now, he even gets a steely-eyed glower from Milhouse: "No one who saw the movie would say that." Homer sticks to his vow right to the end, and gets vindicated by a flash-forward that shows Bart becoming Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ... and he and Homer finally catching the movie together at a revival showing.

Now it's our turn to see what's probably a masterpiece of splattery cartoon violence, complete with voice cameos by the likes of Dustin Hoffman. We've already accepted that we're not going to rise to future Bart's exalted heights, so let's just watch a cat and a mouse attack each other with brutal hilarity.

Angels with Filthy Souls

The hardboiled, snappily scripted black-and-white gangster movie "Angels with Filthy Souls" – as seen in "Home Alone" — has already given us at least one immortal line of dialogue: "Keep the change, ya filthy animal." We want to see the rest, because the little bit we do get is unforgettable — and also a pitch-perfect homage to old gangster movies.

It's convincing because it was crafted with incredible care, especially by art director Dan Webster, production designer John Muto, set directors Eve Cauley and Dan Clancy, and cinematographer Julio Macat. A piece in Vanity Fair described how carefully the production team selected details like high-contrast photography, noir-era Venetian blinds, artificial mist, and classic movie props — all designed to ring true for this kind of movie. Even the actors were picked for authenticity, nailing the typical physical appearances and performance styles of the period.

But the single biggest key to the fake movie's success may be the lighting. Director Chris Columbus told Insider, "'Home Alone' is one of the last films shot with an old carbon-arc lighting system ... That means you have to put a carbon piece of charcoal into each lamp and it creates a warmer and richer light to shoot. We also shot the 'Angels with Filthy Souls' scene the same way ... That richness of black and white made it look like a movie from that era and I think that's why some people think it's a real movie." Good to know we aren't the only ones who fell for it.


"Kickpuncher" — which seems to be a cheesier, lower-budget, and less satirical "Robocop" — makes its debut in Season 1, Episode 15 of "Community," when Abed, Troy, Shirley, Chang, and a bewildered Pierce all gather together for a bad movie night. Their snarky riffing on the movie captures exactly how much fun watching lousy B-movies can be.

And they have great material. (We can certainly see why Troy and Abed were inspired to make their own fan films.) "Kickpuncher" — whose punches, according to the movie, "have the power of kicks" — is indeed gloriously bad, with stilted acting, cheesy dialogue, and an obviously bonkers premise. Don't forget the sequels, either. We have a particular soft spot for "Kickpuncher 2: Code-Name Punch Kicker," which introduces a new villain to the franchise, but there's also "Kickpuncher: Detroit," "Kickpuncher III: The Final Kickening," and a soulless reboot that dares to redesign the immortal robo-costuming of the first movie. To paraphrase Troy, these sound terrible, and we want to watch them all twice.

Merrily We Dance

We really want to watch "Merrily We Dance," the urbane comedy of manners from the Coen Brothers' "Hail, Caesar!" But does it exist? No — would that it were so simple.

Director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) is clearly well-versed in his chosen genre, but he's been saddled with a major problem in the form of Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich). Hobie is deeply adorable, but he's a country-western boy, used to horses, lasso tricks, and musical numbers, and both he and his accent are out-of-place in Laurentz's gleaming drawing room comedy. If Hobie — buoyed by the new self-confidence he gains over the course of the movie — pulls his performance together, his good looks, charm, and inherent decency could all shine in this kind of role. And if he doesn't ... well, then we would still have the glory of listening to him mangle his dialogue. It would either be a great movie or an interestingly terrible one, and either way, it would be a fun way to spend two hours.

The 14 Fists of McCluskey

Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" introduced us to a whole fairy tale world of movie what-ifs. Not only would we happily binge every episode of Rick Dalton's classic "Bounty Law" — and try to pick out the moments where veteran stuntman Cliff Booth subbed in for him — but we'd also watch our way through Rick's whole filmography. We want to see those spaghetti Westerns he made when his career in America was going through a slump, and we want to see what he could have done with Steve McQueen's role in "The Great Escape."

But most of all, we want to see him in "The 14 Fists of McCluskey," the World War II action-thriller that equipped him with a flamethrower — for all his eventual Manson Family-fighting needs — and taught him how to use it. That makes it a kind of historical artifact in the parallel universe of "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood," even if we're the only ones able to fully appreciate its full significance.

On top of all that, a rough-and-tumble, viciously violent, "Dirty Dozen"-style war movie sounds right up our alley. This is clearly an alternate universe classic that we deserve to see.


"BoJack Horseman" loves to break its audience's hearts into little pieces, and the tragic fate of the film "Secretariat" — the career pinnacle BoJack spent years longing for — is a perfect example of the show's absurd but affecting tragedies. The film starts off with genuine artistic aspirations. Both BoJack and director Kelsey Jannings want to make a serious movie that's an unvarnished and even dark look at the famous racehorse. BoJack is creating the best and most wrenching performance of his life.

But then everything goes wrong. Producer Lenny Turtletaub reconfigures the film as a much more conventional biopic: sanitized, family-friendly, and inspirational. When BoJack and Kelsey push back, Kelsey gets kicked off the film completely, replaced with the genial hack Abe D'Catfish. Abe doesn't really care about "Secretariat" ... until BoJack manages to insult him. Then the film production becomes Abe's way to torture him, and BoJack inevitably cracks under the pressure and skips out entirely.

The end result of all this? The version of "Secretariat" that hits theaters has only a CGI reconstruction of BoJack, with none of his originally filmed scenes making it into the movie. He waited most of his life for this, and now he's "starring" in a movie he's not even really in. It's a gut-punch that the prolonged Oscar season arc only makes all the more agonizing — but it does leave us with a morbid curiosity about the film that actually came out of this nightmarish collision of Hollywood egos.


Joe Dante's fun, nostalgic "Matinee" is both a reexamination of Cold War paranoia and a loving ode to old school monster schlock. It's the latter quality that leads to it giving us one of the most inspired fake movies of all time: "Mant!" What happens when an innocent shoe salesman's routine dental procedure leads to him becoming a terrifying man-ant hybrid? If you're wondering how this happened, we can only quote the movie itself: "Young lady, human-insect mutation is far from an exact science."

The best part of "Mant!" is how much of the movie we get to see over the course of "Matinee." One of our favorite running jokes is how the characters will pause to define basic words to lend them a more scientific veneer: Bill-the-Mant will "grow, or, 'get bigger.'" Thanks for clearing that one up for us!

Of course, "Mant!" also comes with a lot of theatrical bells and whistles that have sadly gone out of style. "Matinee" makes John Goodman's Lawrence Woolsey a gimmick-loving showman like William Castle or Roger Corman, someone who would never shy away from putting buzzers on the seats or hiring a costumed teenager to playfully menace audiences. "Mant!" just seems like it would make for a great day at the movies.

Maloja Snake

Every now and then, a real film will offer up a gem of a fake film that actually feels like it could be an award-winning classic of the highest possible caliber. That's what happens when we watch the dreamy masterpiece "Clouds of Sils Maria" and hear about the film "Maloja Snake."

Most of "Clouds of Sils Maria" deals with the play "Maloja Snake," which is getting a high-profile revival production. At the start of her career, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) starred as Sigrid: the young, magnetic beauty who held the whole world's attention. Now, she's being asked to play Helena, the character Sigrid uses and then casts aside. Maria has trouble grappling with the role, seeing Helena only as a pathetic character who humiliates herself by falling in love with a much younger woman who probably never really cares for her.

During all this, we learn that Maria also played Sigrid in the film adaptation of "Maloja Snake," and we hate that we can't see that. All the bits of the play that we see are elegant, enigmatic, and tense, and when you combine that with a psychologically sophisticated lesbian romance and a young Juliette Binoche? It's maddening that we can't see all that in action.

The Crows Have Eyes 3: The Crowening

"Schitt's Creek" gives Catherine O'Hara's Moira Rose the unlikely opportunity to reboot her career with a fully committed performance in the straight-to-streaming Z-grade horror sequel "The Crows Have Eyes 3: The Crowening." The movie could have been a disaster — maybe it even should have been a disaster — but Alexis' (Annie Murphy) masterful and undeniably lucky PR handling turns it into a runaway ironic success.

It looks like a combination of bad plotting and even worse special effects, but there's something genuinely touching about the intensity and devotion Moira brings to her role. She even persuades the otherwise-disengaged director to take the material more seriously. When bizarre movies have a lot of passion poured into them, they often wind up being fascinating and energetic, even if we still wouldn't call them "good." "The Crowening" seems to fit squarely in that category, so we're ready to pop some popcorn and settle down to watch a mutating Moira give a speech while standing in a giant nest. Plus, Season 6, Episode 5's "The Premiere" reassures us that "Ornithology Today" liked it. What more could we possibly ask for?


"You'll come home for the holidays in a bodybag," promises the great, gory preview for the fake horror movie "Thanksgiving." One of several fake trailers in the 2007 double-feature "Grindhouse," Eli Roth's "Thanksgiving" claims the No. 1 spot in spite of some steep competition (two of the faux trailers — "Machete" and "Hobo with a Shotgun" — became real movies). 

The details are just too good to resist: From the cinematography to the mash-up of wholesome holiday traditions with visceral, bloody shocks, "Thanksgiving" does a fantastic job evoking the stark and grimy slasher movies of the 1970s.

A brutal killer in a Pilgrim costume plaguing Plymouth, Massachusetts over Thanksgiving weekend certainly feels like the logline for a lost horror classic. The "Thanksgiving" trailer pitches the movie as a cross between "Halloween" — ordinary suburban high schoolers with badly interrupted date nights — and "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," with its gruesome implications of torture and cannibalism, both of which are era-appropriate. While it's all overlaid with some of Eli Roth's distinctive sadistic humor and a few too-obvious parody jokes (like the straight-faced cop tasting blood to confirm that, yep, it's blood), none of that would be out-of-place in the '70s. It's just a note-perfect homage to one of our favorite decades in horror, and we're completely capable of forgetting that it's not a real movie.

The Purple Rose of Cairo

"The Purple Rose of Cairo" is a warm, witty, and nuanced love letter to the movies. It recognizes that the pleasures of the screen will always be a little limited, and that fantasy as well as reality can disappoint us — but it also makes going to the movies an undeniably magical, transcendent experience. Here, the repeated viewings of loyal fan Cecilia (Mia Farrow) are even enough to make Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), the lovably dashing hero of the movie-within-a-movie, step out of the screen and fall in love with her.

Meanwhile, we wouldn't mind stepping into "The Purple Rose of Cairo" — or at least seeing this charming black-and-white romantic adventure comedy in theaters. It seems like such an enjoyable slice of Classic Hollywood that we're not surprised that it was enough to distract Cecilia from all her troubles. This is the kind of frothy, glamorous entertainment that promises to make you forget about all the real-world drudgery for a while, and that's something we can all appreciate.

The Fifth Sense

In Season 5, Episode 11 of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," Mac and Charlie attempt to collaborate on a movie script. It goes about as well as you'd expect — and it only gets worse when Dennis pitches in and convinces them to make it a porno-thriller hybrid. (It gets a new title at this point, but you know what? We're going to be delicate and stick with their original idea of "The Fifth Sense.") While we might shudder and throw out most of Dennis' suggestions, the rest of it would make for some hilariously irresistible schlock.

The movie's premise? Dolph Lundgren plays a man who can smell crimes before they happen. Charlie adds in several typically off-the-wall flourishes: He could run around on all fours like a dog! His head could be one giant nose! Alas, Mac shoots these down — but the basic idea still has a dumb but fun flair to it. Doesn't it just feel like a cheesy sci-fi action movie, probably one that went straight to DVD? And the gang's enthusiasm for it is infectious. Let's get Dolph Lundgren in a mesh shirt and make this happen.