We don't think anyone can disagree with this statement: children are incredibly stupid. Animators know this. So, sure, when they're making a cartoon they could draw the main character crapping his pants every single time it happens, but that costs money. It's not like kids are going to notice. No, just grab the frames from the last time you did it and BAM, you're done. They do it on The Simpsons and Saturday morning cartoons.
But you probably already assumed those things were cranked out in some Korean sweatshop anyway and are probably always cutting corners. But huge budget productions get in on the act, too. Compare the CGI explosion from the beginning of this Star Trek VI trailer...
...to this scene from that sci-fi classic, The Coneheads:
Yeah, they totally just pasted in the same explosion in two different movies (both from Paramount--there won't be a lawsuit).
And Sometimes it Gets Weird:
You know those Disney hand-drawn feature films from back in the day? The ones considered the greatest animated works ever made? Well not only did their artists reuse a few frames here and there to save time, they reused entire scenes, just painting over the characters.
If you haven't seen this before, it'll blow your mind:
Yep, Disney's been recycling anything they've felt like since Snow White. And that's just the tip of the world's laziest iceberg; there are thousands of hours of YouTube videos showcasing just what a bunch of cheapskates the Disney dream factory really is.
Now that we think about it, Mickey and Minnie do have a slight resemblance.
#1. Propped Up
So you've spent a fortune on props, but now the final shot's in the can and you're left with a bunch of fake crap that doesn't do anything. Sure, you could offload all the penis-shaped stuff to porno studios for when they make the inevitable sex parody of whatever it is you just made, but that what to do with the rest? You stick it in a warehouse and wait for somebody else to use it.
You know the PKE Meter from Ghostbusters? It turns up in They Live, Suburban Commando and, even worse, Knight Rider. Far more disturbing, the "Gynecological Tools for Mutant Women" from Dead Ringers became dental tools in Little Shop of Horrors.
Costume designers also have a long, embarrassing history of doing as little work as possible when it comes to actually designing costumes. For example, you'd think most designers would leap at the chance to put their own spin on Princess Elizabeth's gown, but you would be in for a disheartening surprise: most productions have been using the same one for 30 years.
"Yeah, just Febreeze it and throw it back in the box."
And we don't even have time to get into all of the dumpsters Joss Whedon dove in while he was assembling the costumes for Firefly, from Starship Troopers, to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Dead Like Me, to name a few.
But the king of all prop recyclers is the Star Trek franchise. In this episode of The Next Generation the wand La Forge is holding is an engineering scanner:
In another episode, it's a hair dryer:
Star Trek was so good at recycling that yesterday's "force field generator"...
... is cut in half, turned over and it's suddenly today's support columns in an alien base:
Of course, it's not just their own props they recycle. Look at the lamp in the background there; it turned up in multiple episodes of The Next Generation...
... is just a broken off piece of a Robotech toy (the shoulder cannon):
And Sometimes it Gets Weird:
Stanley Kubrick was so paranoid about other films raiding his prop warehouse from 2001 that he had absolutely everything from that film destroyed.
That they had to create all of their props from scratch makes the production of 2069: A Sex Odyssey all the more impressive.
You can find more Dan at seitzeeing.wordpress.com
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And don't forget to check out the actors who are jealous of these reusables, in The 6 Most Depressing IMDb Pages and 5 Movie Martial Artists That Lost a Deathmatch to Dignity.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 12.08.2009) to see how the Internet reuses itself all the time.