People don’t kill people, guns do! Or is it the other way round? Either way, firearms hold us in a grip of morbid fascination, and filmmakers have never shied away from feeding our appetite for destruction. Some of the most iconic sci-fi weaponry from the big screen has been botched together from very surprising sources, and if you’re a geek for this stuff it makes for very interesting reading.
Jake Paltrow’s epic new film Bad Land is about to be released and features a rare custom weapon made up of a stripped back Lee Enfield .303 with an underslung Mossberg 500 combat shotgun. Bad guys beware!
To celebrate Bad Land – and it’s tasty weapon – we take a look back at 5 of the most interesting Franken-firearms in movie history…
Star Wars (1977) Imperial Stormtrooper E-11 Blaster Rifle
Whether you’re a Star Wars fanatic or not, the Imperial Stormtrooper blaster rifle is recognisable and synonymous with the greatest space opera of all time. Not many people realise that the blaster prop was developed by modifying a British Sterling submachine-gun – most notably with the addition of a battery pack instead of a magazine and a scope attachment. When viewed side by side it’s easy to see the terrestrial origins of the universe’s least accurate weapon. Fans and collectors of film memorabilia will be pleased to know that they too can be the proud owners of a replica this famous piece for a mere couple of hundred pounds.
Waterworld (1995) Mossberg 500
Possibly as notorious as Star Wars, but for all the wrong reasons, Waterworld was the most expensive film ever made until Titanic took that dubious honour two years later. It was a maligned film but it’s arguably an underrated old school adventure. But we’re here to talk guns, and there are plenty of them in this film! The Mariner played by Kevin Costner uses a Mossberg 500 shotgun with a wooden pump section and a pistol grip. During his assault on the tanker (the Exxon Valdez no less!), Costner is wearing a modified Bandoleer with 12 gauge shells – although he discards this one without ever using it.
Judge Dredd (1995) Lawgiver II
Fans of 2000AD have been reading tales of Judge Dredd doling out street justice with his infamous ‘Lawgiver’ pistol since the late 70’s. It was in 1995 that the character and the gun were brought to life on the big screen by Sylvester Stallone and a 9mm Beretta with a futuristic looking veneer. For fans of Dredd, the Lawgiver is particularly memorable for it’s impressive (and improbable) list of party tricks; rapid-fire, grenade launcher and signal flare launcher, plus a special dual round known as the “double-whammy”. Our favourite feature is the specialised grip that only allows a specified judge to use it. If anyone else picks it up – KABOOM!
Aliens (1986) Pulse Rifle
The first time Lieutenant Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo encountered the xenomorphs in Alien they were woefully ill-equipped. The same accusation cannot be levelled at protagonists of the 1986 sequel. The troops of the USCMC (United States Colonial Marine Corps) famously carry the Pulse Rifle as their standard issue weapon (among many others). This most futuristic looking of weapons was perhaps surprisingly based on the gangsters favourite; the Thompson submachine gun (with further parts salvaged from a Remington 870 and a foregrip from a Franchi SPAS-12). The rifle is also fitted with the LED readout that displays the number of rounds in the rifle’s magazine. At the end of the film, Ripley fastens one of these rifles to an M240 Flamethrower in her attempt to rescue Newt.
Blade Runner (1982) Deckard’s Blaster
When it comes to retiring replicants, Blade Runner Rick Deckard swears by his trusty blaster. The weapon is essentially a Charter Arms Bulldog revolver with the receiver bolt from a Steyr-Mannlicher Model SL rifle grafted to the top. Side covers were added to cover the Bulldog’s cylinder and different bolt heads and screw heads were used to offer an illusion of knobs and controls. The gun was also equipped with at least 6 LED lights – though not all of them worked throughout the production.
Although the blaster was never given an officially designated name in the film, serious collectors and fans like to refer to it as the “PKD” in deference to Philip K Dick.
Signature Entertainment Presents Bad Land: Road to Fury in Cinemas 1st May and DVD & Digital HD on Monday 4th May