We live in a world where entertainment is becoming increasingly immersive. Years ago, the only way to express your love of a movie was to, you know, buy a copy of it. Nowadays, fans would rather create their own (unauthorized) content while waiting for a pirated copy to finish downloading. Fan-fiction is one aspect of this, but I wouldn't venture too far into this world unless you're mentally prepared for several iterations of Wolverine being tenderly seduced by Optimus Prime. Another, safer outlet is the video re-enactment.
Thanks to YouTube, you can see doughy Scarface enthusiasts doing Tony Montana with the worst Cuban accents since wrestler Razor Ramon guest-starred on I Love Lucy. You can also see Mr. Potato Head wiggle around in re-enactments of Toy Story made by animators who, apparently, had stop-motion explained to them by Bantu tribesmen. And, any slob with a golf ball retriever can (and probably has) staged a light-saber battle, recruiting a friend with a wrapping paper tube and the ability to make convincing "pew-pew" sound effects.
I remember when leather and lace were considered kinky. Now you need degrees in physics and materials science just to raise an eyebrow. Very few people would throw serious money into a movie re-enactment. Most of the necessary props are items found around the house, and the set is usually the neighborhood playground. So, if you ever see a guy in a rumpled fedora running away from a giant beach ball rolling down the slide, it's a safe bet that Raiders of the Lost Ark is being re-enacted by someone with less money than Steven Spielberg, and less integrity than George Lucas.
This is a fine hobby if you're looking to establish a baseline for the depravity of YouTube commenters, but it should be more popular than it is. Jackass inspired a generation of teenagers to film themselves getting hit in the nuts with a tetherball, so why has no one been inspired to re-enact Bloodsport and recapture (one of) JCVD's fight scenes where he does the splits and punches a guy in the dong? Same net effect, right?
Well, to lend credibility to this emerging hobby, I've researched four iconic scenes from classic movies and offered suggestions as to how one could re-enact them on a budget (assuming that budget is enormous).
1. The Empire Strikes Back – $11,770
A lot of scenes could have made this list: The Mos Eisley Cantina, Cloud City, Jabba's barge, etc. But to be honest, I'm not sure how you could recreate any of those without fancy special effects and make-up. Maybe you could find some Star Wars figurines and an overweight hooker willing to stand in for the Sarlacc Pit (if you catch my drift), but movie-reenactment should be a wholesome hobby, requiring few, if any, prostitutes.
Instead, I'm recommending the gut-wrenching scene where Han is frozen in carbonite:
This scene made a generation of ladies swoon, so why not over you? You're clearly as desirable as Harrison Ford if you're buying bulk whipped cream and wearing grey sweatsuits. One small problem: I looked at a periodic table of the elements, and apparently "carbonite" isn't actually a thing. Has someone told George Lucas this?
No worries, we can achieve the same effect with something called a latex vacbed. Be warned, this article is about to take a hard left turn into that weird part of the internet. According to a site dedicated to providing perverts with the latest technological marvels, the idea of a vacbed is that "a person enters a latex bag or enclosure, is provided with a way to breathe the outside air, and then a vacuum cleaner removes the air from inside the enclosure to seal the person inside." And if this is your idea of fun, please let me know, and I can arrange for the restraining order.
I remember when leather and lace were considered kinky. Now you need degrees in physics and materials science just to raise an eyebrow. But we're here to be filmmakers, not perverts. Or at the very least, some combination of the two. The point is, this pivotal scene is now within your filthy grasp. A latex vacbed, some dry ice, and a scissor-lift should be all you need. To make the scene really authentic, you can (probably) even get some of the original actors! What's that? You say you love me? I know.
Dry ice: $20
Scissorlift rental: $500
Latex Vacbed: $8,250? I didn't dare ask how much it cost, so this is my best guess (they never had to deal with this on The Price is Right).
Billy Dee Williams appearance fee: $3,000 (And what does it say about our society when a sex toy costs more than Lando Calrissian?)
2. Rocky – $50,210
Got a grey sweatsuit? Can you handle a small amount of physical exertion? Great. Now all you have to do is fly to Philadelphia and you've got the makings of Rocky's iconic training sequence.
Big deal, I'm sure you're thinking. Hundreds of tourists run up those stupid steps every day. They even have a Wikipedia entry detailing every tired parody. I grant you—you're not the first one to think about running up those steps while playing "Gonna Fly Now"; in fact, YouTube is maggoty with this trope. You will, however, be the first one to hire a bunch of extras to make the scene super-accurate.
Look at the original scene:
Rocky's just going for a little jog, hoping to build up the endurance he'll need to fight Carl Weathers. At first, he attracts a few well-wishers. But before you know it, Rocky's attracted so many children that you start to wonder if this training montage is really a "To Catch a Predator" sting.
Finding these extras shouldn't be too hard. The great thing about extras is that they're usually just happy to be involved. At least, they ought to be. The closest that a slob from Philly will ever get to movie stardom is a 3-second appearance in your Rocky re-enactment for YouTube, so he'll need to make the most of it. And if the script ever calls for it, that fact is sad enough to make him cry little cheesesteak tears.
Grey Sweatsuit: $10 (although odds are good you've got one on right now—savings!)
Airfare to Philadelphia: Maybe $200, depending on where you live.
Approximately 500 extras: With an average cost of $100 per extra per day, you better hope you can wrap before the sun sets on your celebration at the top of that staircase.
3. Ghostbusters – $1,012,000
Remember the scene where Walter Peck runs into the station and shuts down the containment unit in the name of the Environmental Protection Agency? I'm weirdly obsessed with that scene. I'd like to remake it just so that one of the Ghostbusters could zap that guy with their electric ghost lasers. But this would be thinking too small. Instead, I'm going to tell you how you can re-enact the climactic scene where the heroes take down the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man:
Sound impossible? Well, I know a 20-ft inflatable mascot that would disagree. Ol' Stay-Puft can be rented out for advertising or promotion purposes, and if you haven't guessed, this story begins with you filling him with whipped cream and ends with you laser-exploding him. The promotion company that owns him should be OK with that since you're technically promoting how awesome you are.
Figuring out how much whipped cream you're going to need will take some advanced math. I suppose I could reduce a 20-ft Stay-Puft to a number of cylinders representing his head/limbs/torso, calculate the volume of those cylinders, and determine how many cans are needed. But this isn't Mythbusters, and math isn't part of my PIC job description, so I'm just going to say 5,000 cans.
Sourcing a workable laser to stand in for the proton pack will be a bit more difficult. You can find plenty of guides online that show you how to make a passable replica, but our forefathers didn't give their lives so that you could re-enact Ghostbusters with an inert proton pack, I'll tell you that much. Some of these replicas do have lasers, but that's "laser" as in "laser pointer," not "don't cross the streams."
You're going to need some kind of lightning gun, and don't worry, because the US Army has got you covered. It'll cost a pretty penny to rent this thing (and to be honest, I'm not sure what the wait-list is like for army-developed superweapons) but look on the bright side: after Ghostbusters, you'll also be able to re-enact Darth Vader fighting the Emperor, Marty McFly going back to the future, and Thor doing Thor stuff. It'll be a bargain, really.
Stay-Puft rental: Probably around $2,000.
5,000 cans of whipped cream: $10,000, but maybe there's a bulk discount available somewhere.
Lightning gun (negotiation, rental, training, transportation, insurance, etc): You'll be looking at six figures here at least. Hey, you can't put a price on artistic expression.
4. Terminator 2 -$28,005
First of all, forget about any of those "liquid metal" effects. You could try something with tinfoil and an octopus, but if you have those things handy, you're better off re-enacting Japanese movies. The scene I'm targeting is the molten steel death of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "good" Terminator, who finally learned why humans cry:
A more touching "thumbs-up" wouldn't take place until we, as a nation, said goodbye to Siskel, and later, Ebert.
First of all, you're going to need some sort of abandoned industrial warehouse with rusted machinery and chains. I'm sure Detroit has one on every corner. The real challenge here is the molten steel. And, given the right mixture and lighting, I think that partially-congealed Jell-O is a good analogue for the stuff. And, as an added bonus, I bet it would feel good to be submerged in the stuff. Not "inescapable latex cocoon" good, but good nevertheless.
Normally, a movie re-enactment is not supposed to alter the source material, but if you do go through with this one, you have my permission to correct a significant mistake. Think back: the T-2000 has been killed, John and Sarah Connor have been reunited, and all that remains is for the T-1000 to self-terminate, so that the crazy futuristic technology won't fall into the wrong hands, leading to the robopocalypse.
Before Arnold nobly accepts his fate, he might want to remember that less than 20 feet away is his crushed robo-arm, the very same arm (presumably) he spent half the movie trying to retrieve from Cyberdyne. Leaving this arm behind means that they prevented exactly nothing. In fact, the thumbs-up gesture may not be a nod to T-1000's humanity, it might be him remembering at the last possible moment that his arm is up there, and trying to point this out to a barely-interested Edward Furlong.
You can correct this in your re-enactment, but you're going to need a realistic crushed robotic arm. There are some prosthetic limb companies doing some pretty amazing things, but good luck getting an amputee to part with his arm at any price. Believe me, I've tried. If you're serious about this, you might have to invest in a 3-D printer. Sure, some will tell you that you can fabricate a decent robotic arm with just Lego, but just think of the possibilities a 3-D printer opens up. In fact, I may as well end the article here, because with your new 3-D printer, you'll be able to make everything from Pee-Wee's bicycle to the One Ring. See you on the YouTubes!
Warehouse rental in Detroit: $5
10,000 packages of red Jell-O: $8,000 (discount for relatives of Bill Cosby)
3-D printer: $20,000