July 10, 2013
Inside the Asylum, One of the Most Successful Low-Budget Movie Studios

Five years ago, long before he would write his feature film about a two-headed shark, H. Perry Horton was an MFA graduate with a failed literary magazine under his belt and a job sorting film titles at a rare surviving video store in Portland, Oregon, that offers up big-budget Hollywood films alongside obscure cult favorites. As he shelved, Horton started eyeing some similarities in a slew of brand-new releases. These movies had never hit theaters. They arrived with no big-studio marketing push, but they didn’t come from any indie cult pedigree, either. They all had pulpy titles. They gave top billing to forgotten actors and aging sex symbols. Many relied on the use of “Mega”—as in Mega Piranha, Mega-Fault, and Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.
After some digging, Horton discovered that the movies were all from the same studio: the Asylum, a Burbank, California-based company that scrapes out a seemingly endless quantity of bottom-of-the-barrel creature features, topless-teen comedies, and “mockbuster” rip-offs. Transfixed, Horton created a special “Asylum” section in the shop and launched a fan blog that documented the films spurting from the studio. Then, in 2011, something magical happened: The Asylum commissioned him to write his own film, an ancient-curse thriller called A Haunting in Salem. Then he wrote 2-Headed Shark Attack. And Shark Week. And 40 Days and Nights. And 100 Degrees Below Zero.
For a typical film, the Asylum floats a concept to its stable of writers. They blast back a slew of 100-word pitches. If the Asylum chooses Horton’s concept, he bangs out a draft in 10 days, then hands it off to a producer; revisions are made, then the Asylum shoots the film, fast.
In 2-Headed Shark Attack, “Carmen Electra is a doctor,” Horton tells me with a mix of glee and disdain. The question is: For the love of God, why?
Read more. [Image: The Asylum/MikeDigrazia]

Inside the Asylum, One of the Most Successful Low-Budget Movie Studios

Five years ago, long before he would write his feature film about a two-headed shark, H. Perry Horton was an MFA graduate with a failed literary magazine under his belt and a job sorting film titles at a rare surviving video store in Portland, Oregon, that offers up big-budget Hollywood films alongside obscure cult favorites. As he shelved, Horton started eyeing some similarities in a slew of brand-new releases. These movies had never hit theaters. They arrived with no big-studio marketing push, but they didn’t come from any indie cult pedigree, either. They all had pulpy titles. They gave top billing to forgotten actors and aging sex symbols. Many relied on the use of “Mega”—as in Mega Piranha, Mega-Fault, and Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

After some digging, Horton discovered that the movies were all from the same studio: the Asylum, a Burbank, California-based company that scrapes out a seemingly endless quantity of bottom-of-the-barrel creature features, topless-teen comedies, and “mockbuster” rip-offs. Transfixed, Horton created a special “Asylum” section in the shop and launched a fan blog that documented the films spurting from the studio. Then, in 2011, something magical happened: The Asylum commissioned him to write his own film, an ancient-curse thriller called A Haunting in Salem. Then he wrote 2-Headed Shark Attack. And Shark Week. And 40 Days and Nights. And 100 Degrees Below Zero.

For a typical film, the Asylum floats a concept to its stable of writers. They blast back a slew of 100-word pitches. If the Asylum chooses Horton’s concept, he bangs out a draft in 10 days, then hands it off to a producer; revisions are made, then the Asylum shoots the film, fast.

In 2-Headed Shark Attack, “Carmen Electra is a doctor,” Horton tells me with a mix of glee and disdain. The question is: For the love of God, why?

Read more. [Image: The Asylum/MikeDigrazia]

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  5. candychicksandrock reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    I agree with the question: “For the love of God, why?”
  6. morgan3000 reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Asylum
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    Gotta Love The Asylum.
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