Tag Archives: Tom Biolchini

Cinematic Treasure Hunters

Mad Props

by Rachel Willis

Enter a world of movie prop collectors, individuals who amass pieces from costumes to sculptures to fragments of sets. These collectors are the focus of director Juan Pablo Reinoso documentary, Mad Props.

He begins by introducing our narrator and host, film producer Tom Biolchini, and his history, from wanting to work as a special effects artist to his eventual role as a hobby prop collector. It’s not the most compelling way to start the film. Several scenes involve Tom showing his family pictures from a prop catalog, dreaming about his most desired objects. We watch him place bids, paying anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000 for a single item.

The film picks up somewhat as the focus moves to other prop collectors. We travel the world to see some of the most impressive collections. Collectors often display their items in creative ways, highlighting the pieces they are most proud of. Unfortunately, Reinoso doesn’t do much to vary the presentation of these moments, and that repetitiveness drags.

Mad Props is most interesting when Reinoso interviews the artists who make the movie props. When asked what he thinks of his work being coveted by fans, one designer expresses delight. But who is the ultimate beneficiary of all the money being spent on these props? It’s not the designers.

Actors Lance Henriksen and Robert Englund add a little levity to the film. Unfortunately, even they can’t help with much of the footage, which simply feels like filler.

Mad Props flounders, never quite telling its story in a cohesive, interesting way. Of all the things to collect, movie props are pretty cool. You purchase a piece of cinematic history, art, and depending on the person’s relationship to the film itself, a bit of nostalgic joy. Of course, the cost of the items makes the hobby pretty prohibitive, hindering any attempt at universal appeal.

Reinoso wants to convey the value in this type of collecting. Sadly, he never quite makes the case that this is a hobby of interest for those beyond the collectors themselves.