Looking for examples of less obvious but desired movie props.
February 23, 2021 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Looking for examples of less obvious but desired movie props; stuff you can't readily buy a reproduction of, but a die hard fan would recognize.

The Flux Capacitator from Back to the Future, the fertility idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark, the puzzle box from Hellraiser... are all pretty common props from movies that casual fans would recognize (and easy to find reproductions of, often officially licensed!).

I'm looking for example of less ubiquitous hand props or set decor from films. Stuff that the only the most die hard of fans might immediately recognize... Danny's toy cars in The Shining; the thingamajig invention the dad is trying to sell in Gremlins; a copy of the "Jelly of the Month Club" check from Christmas Vacation.

Note: I'm especially looking for examples from the horror or thriller genres...
posted by Unsomnambulist to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you looking for actual props or reproductions you could actually buy right now, or are you more just looking for ideas of stuff you might at some theoretical point in the future keep an eye out for?
posted by soundguy99 at 11:33 AM on February 23, 2021

Best answer: i think that "Cabin in the Woods" has a couple of good ideas. Some of the knick-knacks from the basement maybe, and ESPECIALLY the betting whiteboard.
posted by alchemist at 11:34 AM on February 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The eggnog glass with antlers from Christmas Vacation!
posted by soelo at 11:39 AM on February 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Rick Deckard's gun in Blade Runner, also used in the sequel, Blade Runner 2049. Indistinguishable from a regular gun for most viewers, but an object of considerable affection among die-hard fans. Yours for the low low price of $999.95.
posted by googly at 11:42 AM on February 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Three seashells.
posted by advicepig at 11:42 AM on February 23, 2021 [6 favorites]

Milton's red stapler, Office Space
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:44 AM on February 23, 2021 [7 favorites]

Prop Store offers lots of movie production incidentals... maybe keep track of what sold
posted by tinker at 11:46 AM on February 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Calling a technicality on Milton's stapler. Swingline didn't make them in red, so one was painted red for Office Space. Swingline now sells red staplers.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:49 AM on February 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

It's a reproduction, but I don't think it's exactly mass produced (maybe there's more demand for it than I'd think, though): the Pazuzu statue from the Exorcist (but also from ancient Mesopotamian mythology/religion).

(Shipping was almost as much as the statue, mind you, and it's most definitely not at the same scale as in the movie!)
posted by kimota at 12:00 PM on February 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I know I'd love a plaster of paris bagel and cream cheese paperweight
posted by Mchelly at 12:22 PM on February 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The Playbill for Springtime for Hitler from The Producers (2005). Or, even more subtle and rare, from the 1967 film.
posted by jedicus at 12:24 PM on February 23, 2021

Best answer: Maybe some director's signature items, like Tarantino's Red Apple Cigarettes, or JJ Abrams' cups/cans of Slusho! (beverage).
posted by Sunburnt at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

One genre of this is t-shirts that appeared in movies, though increasingly you can readily buy a reproduction of them.

Found Item Clothing has a bunch of them: Nigel's green skeleton in This is Spinal Tap, "Surf Nicaragua" or "International Order for Gorillas" from Real Genius, etc. A bunch are famous designs but there are a lot of niche ones in there too.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:59 PM on February 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: - The top from Inception.
- Jules' wallet from Pulp Fiction
- Whiskey glasses from Blade Runner (apparently these aren't that hard to find)
posted by adamrice at 1:05 PM on February 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have an authentic reproduction of the Shah Safari shirt from Back to the Future. I love noticing little details that are hard to get right from costumes and props.
posted by WedgedPiano at 1:23 PM on February 23, 2021

Best answer: For a hardcore Twin Peaks fan there a lot of things. Examples:
  • an RR2GO! pie box
  • A certain micro-cassette recorder
  • a wooden "BEN" at the front of a desk
  • a copy of Flesh World
  • a certain art-deco armchair
That's all I've got for now, but thinking them up is fun!
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:35 PM on February 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

You can now buy imitations of the infamous spoon art from The Room (which, hilariously, were originally just stock art that came in the picture frames bought for the set).
posted by kdar at 2:06 PM on February 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The stuff in Ash's (Sam Raimi's dad's) car in 'Army of Darkness.'

The 'Steam Plant Operations' is a real book, I've even found the same edition on eBay once upon a time for not much - but the shipping for it was dumb so I didn't.

iirc, that chemistry textbook is a fake (total prop).
posted by porpoise at 3:11 PM on February 23, 2021

Best answer: Anything that has been carefully created for a Wes Anderson film, especially printed ephemera.
posted by srednivashtar at 3:17 PM on February 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

Saw a show years back in an art gallery (AGO Toronto?) of various David Cronenberg props: those typewriters from Naked Lunch, medical instruments from Dead Ringers...
posted by ovvl at 3:36 PM on February 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: More obscure now than at the time, but: the Nokia 7110, the cellphone with the spring-loaded opening mechanism seen in this scene in The Matrix.

(Actually the phone in the movie was the older 8110 model, and the props department added the spring mechanism. Nokia had to rush to make it actually available because people liked what they saw in the movie. It was, as I understand it, not supposed to be a product placement item! The "official" phone model tied in with the movies was the awful Samsung SPH-N270).
posted by automatronic at 4:01 PM on February 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Does software count as a prop?

In Jurassic Park, when Ariana Richards' character exclaims "It's a UNIX system!" to the joy of nerds everywhere, she's sitting at an SGI workstation. The 3D graphical display of the system's files - commonly assumed to be an "unrealistic" graphics sequence created for the movie - was actually a real SGI tool called fsn (File System Navigator).

At one point I owned an SGI Indy and could run this for nerd cred.
posted by automatronic at 5:20 PM on February 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Seconding ephemera made for the project. I have some Sterling Cooper stationery that I'm waiting to write the right letter on...
posted by queensissy at 5:54 PM on February 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I also came here to suggest the “Medical instruments for operating on mutant women” from Dead Ringers.
posted by ejs at 6:43 PM on February 23, 2021

My local university library had the crystal ball from Wizard of Oz in an exhibit a while back. The ball itself is only really identifiable with Dorothy and the Gang projected onto the inside of it.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:51 PM on February 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

One you can make yourself: The origami unicorn from Blade Runner.
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon at 12:14 AM on February 24, 2021

Oh, and Last Exit To Nowhere makes great Shirts with obscure details from movies. This is my favorite from Alien, with a fictional logo for the Nostromo.
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon at 12:22 AM on February 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

In Jurassic Park

You didn’t say the magic word...
posted by zamboni at 8:08 AM on February 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

A Maltese Falcon, perhaps?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:45 PM on February 24, 2021

Best answer: Oscillation Overthruster from Buckaroo Banzai.
posted by JDC8 at 5:08 PM on February 24, 2021

Toht's coathanger from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
posted by ckape at 8:31 AM on March 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Jessamyn mentioned asavage's Maltese Falcon while riffing on this post in this month's podcast., so I ended up watching his presentation about "objects of desire" which covered him making (and remaking, and remaking…) the falcon. He makes a side reference to consulting folks at the Replica Props Forum, which seems to still be a going concern. Here's their Replica Props sub-forum, with ~19 years of projects that people actually made, including some very deep cuts.
posted by zamboni at 12:28 PM on March 5, 2021

I just thought about this thread because I watched Sneakers again, and realised that the answering machine in it would be a perfect example of this.

And sure enough, here's a forum thread that's been running since 2008 of people tracking down that exact model and building replica props with the contents from the movie.

It's a Panasonic KX-T1450. I kinda want one now.
posted by automatronic at 4:09 PM on March 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

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