We at Cinematical love The Asylum -- and how could we not? No outfit that has enough chutzpah to cash in on Hollywood's blockbuster successes by releasing cheap direct-to-DVD films with titles like Snakes on a Train, The Da Vinci Treasure, Pirates of Treasure Island, Transmorphers, Alien vs. Hunter and I Am Omega (which the courageous Matt Bradshaw reviewed here) can deserve anything but unbridled affection, especially if one is shrewd enough to avoid watching the actual films. When they make a mistake and hitch their wagon to a movie that bombs -- like The Invasion, which spawned The Asylum's Invasion of the Pod People -- my love for them only grows.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull must have seemed like a pretty safe bet, though, and so on April 29th (almost a month before Crystal Skull's May 22nd release), The Asylum will bust out -- are you ready? -- Allen Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls. You can see its product page, complete with stills and a trailer, right here. The DVD case proclaims this to be "the story that inspired Indiana Jones," and the website helpfully clarifies that the film is "a retelling of H. Rider Haggard's classic novel King Solomon's Mines, featuring the adventurer who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones" (a claim I can't authenticate). The trailer is pretty incredible, featuring a villain who seems to be channeling Daniel Plainview and culminating in a climactic shot of our hero nonchalantly picking up his hat and leather jacket off what looks like a hotel bed.

Browsing The Asylum's website, I also learned that not only do they have a movie called 100 Million BC in the pipeline, but that the Sci-Fi Channel has agreed to premiere it. Huzzah!

So, full disclosure (as if it weren't obvious): I'm fascinated by The Asylum, but I've never actually seen any of the movies. Against my better judgment, I'm thinking of changing that. Can anyone recommend a good starting point?

[hat tip: Slashfilm]