We interviewed the producers of a highly collaborative <i>RoboCop</i> remake, where over 50 filmmakers redid a scene from the wonderfully cheesy action classic, just in time for the release of Hollywood's official remake. Our favourite scene is the one...
A screencap of our hero, just before going medival on some dicks.
I don't like to admit this, but I check WorldStarHipHop every morning before I sign into any social media platform. It's a habit I've been trying to break for a while, because it's a guilty pleasure, just like drinking a beer in the shower or doing crank at a t-ball game. The other morning however, after watching a Vine compilation—which is basically just girls twerking and people smacking each other—I came across a video called “Crazy RoboCop Remake (NSFW).” For the next three minutes and 41 seconds, I watched an absolutely incredible re-make of a classic RoboCop scene that had been tweaked to feature roughly 30 rapist-dicks being shot off by a new and improved RoboCop who was thirsty for dick blood. I laughed to the point where I almost threw up and passed out.
After some quick Googling, I learned that the dick-explosion scene is actually part of a larger project comprised of over 50 filmmakers, who are each recreating a scene from RoboCop so they can fully remix the film—just in time for Hollywood’s “official” remake that comes out later this week; which presumably does not include any exploding dicks.
Anyway, I spoke with the producers of the remake, David Seger and Tom Kauffman; along with the guys from “Fatal Farm” (the group that produced and directed the penis massacre scene), about the RoboCop remake project, and exactly how they made those dicks explode.
VICE: How did this entire project come about? Was it a giant fuck you to the new Robocop movie that's disappointingly rated PG-13?
Dave: A lot of the same people worked on a similar crowd-sourced project in 2010 called "Our Footloose Remake"—we always thought it'd be funny to break up a movie into several little pieces and try to remake it. I think it was something we joked about early on in these internet filmmaking communities like Filmfights and Channel 101. We actually made it happen with Footloose, because the idea of "beating Hollywood to the punch" was really funny to us, and still is. Truthfully, I don't think we cared that much about the Footloose remake. Remakes and reboots are going to happen. But it was funny to posture like we were outraged and made our own Footloose remake in reaction to that. It's a good excuse to make something.
When we heard about the RoboCop remake (which is one of my absolute favourite movies) there was some earnest outrage. The first reaction to hearing that they are remaking RoboCop is to be very bummed out, so we knew we had to get our shit together and make another crowd-sourced fan remake. We worked with a timeline so that our remake would screen and be released online before their box office release date—that was the deadline we were working agaist.
Tom: It was more about the enjoyment of the process and… honoring the original version more than condemning the remake. For me, I was more confused because RoboCop seems like a perfect film. That being said, there were definite moments of fanboy rage along the way—the PG-13 rating and the Snake Eyes suit to name a few—although the actual remake has Michael Keaton, so I'm keeping hope alive.
Was it tricky to get this remake together? There are so many people involved I would think some of them would drop out or not hit a deadline.
Dave: There was a lot of backing out and re-shuffling scenes and missed deadlines and problem solving, but that was to be expected. On my end, that's what I signed up for—coordinating all those elements—so I don't think it was particularly difficult because there weren't a lot of unexpected hurdles. We had two or three really last-minute dropouts, but because of the community of filmmakers we're a part of, and because everyone was so excited about the project, it wasn't too hard to find filmmakers willing to take on another scene at the last minute, or someone to jump at the opportunity of putting a last-minute scene together. We're all used to making things on a deadline with low resources, so it's kind of habit to have that quick turnaround.
Tom: Dave is too nice to say it, but some people whiffed on their scene for whatever reason, which forced some tough decisions about what the audience will endure. That's always a tough line to walk when it's supposed to be for fun, and Dave is like a top-ten nice guy so it's agonizing for him. Otherwise, a lot of scenes were trimmed, not because of quality, but just to keep the movie down to a manageable running time. I think our remake is only eight minutes longer than the original.
How was the budget dispersed? Some videos look like they cost $10 and others looked like a 10 grand shoot.
Dave: This project was entirely not-for-profit, and had a working budget of nothing, so there's a lot of borrowing resources and stealing shots going on. I put some of my own money into it, to buy RoboCop costumes and a bunch of various wardrobe pieces that filmmakers shared for the different characters. But the individual filmmakers used their own money and resources for the budgets of their scenes. Some people spent nothing, and some spent more than nothing. The Fatal Farm guys did an amazing job with the resources they had available to them, borrowing and collecting favors to create what is probably the high point of the movie.
My personal favourite scene from this remake has to be the one where RoboCop shoots the dicks off of the rapists. Fatal Farm, how did you guys obtain the original RoboCop costume?
Tom: With all the production quality superhero, fantasy, and movie character cosplayers you see wandering around at comic conventions, we figured there had to be someone out there with a screen accurate RoboCop suit. We went onto a RoboCop fansite and started digging around in the forums. It wasn't long before we found this guy from Arizona with a perfect suit who was pictured at a number of area conventions and events. We reached out and discovered that making appearances as RoboCop is a side business for him. He owns the movie's squad car and gun too. He has vanity plates that say ROBOCOP. His suit was autographed by Peter Weller. His email address has "Robo" in it. He’s the definitive package. We brought him out, and he killed it.
Wow. So how did you make the dicks explode like that? And how did the actors react when you first told them that they would have to get their dicks shot off?
Dave: We work with a special effects makeup artist who asked around town and found some silicone and body molds. Whenever she, or we, would ask anyone for materials/help/etc., all she had to do was say "something something RoboCop" and people would open up their doors. Everyone working in makeup, prosthetics, special effects, pyro... they all fetishize RoboCop, so it was pretty easy to find donations. During lunch breaks and afterhours, she spent a couple weeks just making as many dicks as she could. I think we ended up with 22 or so. They were hollowed out, filled with blood, squibbed, and sewn onto some nude Spanx worn over athletic cups. A pyrotechnician handled all the explosive aspects.
The actors were excited by the exploding dick idea, but when the time came to actually strap a small bomb on top of their genitals, most people became sheepish. Days before the shoot, we blew through a half dozen of our dickstock figuring out a safe charge on a mannequin. And then we tested it on ourselves, so we knew it wasn't dangerous. But there was still a lot of anxiousness on set before the first one blew. Once it went off though, everyone was fighting over who got to be the next dick-victim. We didn't have enough to go around, and I think some of the people that turned out for the scene were bummed when their dicks didn't get shot.
When you’re using firearms on set you normally have to have a police officer on standby… what did your cop think of all this dick exploding?
Dave: There was a lot of laughing and incredulous head shaking. Our officer, and everyone else involved, crowded around the monitor to laugh and groan at every explosion. I think we got away with more than we should have because everyone was swept up in the surrealism of it all. We hadn't been permitted for public nudity or anything, but when we had one of our actors strip down, the officer just sort of shrugged and laughed. A lot of times when you're working on set, cast/crew are focused on their job and are otherwise un-invested in the project, but everyone really had a fun time with this. Except maybe Luka, our nude rapist. We shot on the coldest night of the year. He got pretty sick afterwards. He's happy now, but that was a miserable night for him.
Reaction to the dick scene has been overwhelmingly positive. The only negative sentiment we've seen pop up is one alleging double-standards regarding gender and sexual-mutilation-as-comedy. "This wouldn't be funny if it was women! Double standard! Guys have it rough! Etc." That really bothers us, because we genuinely tried to blow up vaginas as well. Our original idea called for female rapists to eventually enter the mix, but it became a blocking, safety, and cost issue. There was no way to see a vagina explode without an actress crawling on all fours, and even if we choreographed this awkwardness, we couldn't safely detonate a squib that close to the body. We'd have needed to cast up entire torsos to make it work. The bogus claim that this scene would be horrifying or we'd be vilified if it had female victims makes us all the more frustrated we couldn't pull it off. It's a missed opportunity to have exhibited some sort of warped progressiveness, but it was the result of economics, not hypocrisy. The penis is a vastly more practical sexual organ to explode on camera.
Good to know, thanks. So guys, can we look forward to any more remakes in the future?
Dave: We don't have any concrete plans right now. For now it's time to shift gears and try to work on projects I can make money off of again, [laughs]. But I think we all had so much fun doing this, that I know we want to do another one, sooner than the three and half years between Footloose and RoboCop. It'll be a while before we talk about which movie in any real way. But it's fun to say, "We should do Goonies!" or "We should do Karate Kid!" and fantasize about what that would look like.