Finding out where a movie was filmed is easy. The end credits give clues, so does IMDb.com. And, of course, there’s always some intrepid location junkie blazing the trail online. Also, the answer is invariably Canada.
But props. Props are hard. At the end of their scenes, props end up in dusty warehouses and disgusting dumpsters, stolen by actors and crew, secreted in the drawing rooms of wealthy private collectors. There’s no way to track them. Except at auctions, where they pop up whenever a collector dies or needs cash.
And I was recently tipped off to a doozy of an auction. From the Profiles in History house (which once upon a time had its own SyFy reality show) comes Hollywood Auction 74, which takes place September 29 through October 1 and is almost a microcosm of cinema history. It seems like props from every movie are present in this auction, from Citizen Kane to Planet of the Apes to Back to the Future and The Lord of the Rings. The only reason I want to be rich is so I can buy this kind of stuff. Also, all the other benefits of being rich.
Since it’s the horror season, I picked a selection of amazing horror movie props from the auction to highlight. But you should know, this entire post is just an excuse to talk about the first prop on this list.
Psycho Door ($20,000-$30,000)
And it gets better. At one point, this very door was installed at the Dallmann-Kniewel Funeral Home in Rib Lake, Wisconsin. That’s the state where Ed Gein did his depravity, a depravity that inspired Robert Bloch in creating the character of Norman Bates in the first place. How freaking right is that? The $20-30K estimate might sound large, but this slab of wood and glass is worth another mortgage on your house, worth working a second or third job for, worth going into massive credit card debt for. Please, whoever buys this, don’t be a jerk and squirrel it away. Give it its own Twitter account.
Ghoulies Monster ($1,000 - $1,500)
Not quite the icon that the Bates Mansion is, this reptilian piece of foam from 1984 exquisitely represents a major reason why I love props. Even a terrible movie can yield the most beautiful of props. And this prop is beautiful. Like bouquets of flowers and summer sunsets beautiful. And the bonus is that it’s autographed by designer John Carl Buechler and producer Charles Band.
Hellraiser Puzzle Box ($8,000 - $12,000)
To the Devil a Daughter Overcoat ($1,000 - $1,500)
Herman Munster Head ($2,000 - $3,000)
King Kong Shield ($1,000 - $1,500)
Alien Head ($60,000 - $80,000)
Alec Baldwin Beetlejuice Figure ($4,000 - $6,000)
Jaws Spear Gun ($60,000 - $80,000)
The auction catalog had a couple pages’ worth of 1975 Jaws props, and I had a difficult time settling on which one I would steal if I had those kind of skills. I eventually settled on Quint’s spear gun because, well, spear guns are awesome even if they aren’t pieces of one of the most important films in human history. The piece has the same estimate as the Alien head, which goes to show the power of a badly working mechanical shark and a young Jewish lad with an uncanny ability to tap into the American consciousness.
Donnie Darko Mask ($12,000 - $15,000)
Man, this movie takes me back. I sort of feel like this movie was my last gasp before I got old and jaded and all the movies I’d seen in my life melded together into an inextricable blob of dimly lighted memory. Regardless, if you buy this Frank the Bunny mask, I entreat you to walk into your friend’s bedroom at midnight while softly speaking cryptic things.
The entire auction catalog is online, so check it out. Plenty more horror props in there, plus pieces of every other genre of movie and TV.