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Charlton Heston screams ‘We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you. God damn you all to hell!’ in Planet of the Apes at Point Dume’s Westward Beach, Malibu, California, 1968
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In 2010, the town of Astoria in Oregon, which was featured prominently in ‘The Goonies,’ celebrated the 25th anniversary of the classic film by offering bus tours of movie locations, a VIP dinner with several cast members (Corey Feldman!) and a concert. The town continues to celebrate the movie each year on June 7th, which was declared “Official Goonies Day” by the mayor of Astoria. Meanwhile, One-Eyed Willy’s treasure still remains lost.
In 2011, the Cucalorus Film Festival honored the 25th anniversary of David Lynch’s cult classic ‘Blue Velvet’ in the town of Wilmington, North Carolina where it was filmed. A collection of props and memorabilia, including nearly 1,000 black-and-white images taken during the making of the film, were put on display at the former apartment of the late Dennis Hopper, who played amyl nitrate-huffing antagonist Frank Booth. And, awesomely, one of the blue velvet robes that Isabella Rossellini wore during the production was on display as well.
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‘Night of the Living Dead’ may have been a watershed in zombie movies, but the Evans City, Pennsylvania locations used in the film have seen better days. The ramshackle clapboard house where most of the film took place was torn down shortly after filming and only the Evans City Cemetery Chapel, which appears in the movie’s opening scene, remains. Gary Streiner, who worked as a sound engineer on the movie, wants to change that. Streiner has been holding local movie-themed events, like the aptly named “Eat Your Heart Out Zombie Valentine’s Day Dance,” in order to raise money for repairs.
If Forks is eager to cash in on its movie fame, Burkittsville, MD, which was the setting for ‘The Blair Witch Project,’ is exactly the opposite. After the film became a hit in 1999, gaggles of tourists descended on the small town of 180 people, snarled traffic, vandalized gravestones and stole signs. To this day, the town still struggles to distance itself from the horror film which made it famous. “Please understand,” says the town’s official website, “while the town of Burkittsville is real, the movie is just that, a movie. The legend is a fake.” Okay, okay. We get it. But we still think the Blair Witch is around there somewhere.
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For Twihards, the town of Forks, Washington, where ‘Twilight’ takes place, is the rough equivalent of the Holy Land. Fans from all over the world regularly make the pilgrimage to the small town, and its residents have been quick to cash in on the hype. There are ‘Twilight’ tours as well as a multitude of storefronts offering vampire-themed tchotchkes like t-shirts and bumper stickers. The local high school (pictured left) even has dedicated lockers set aside for characters Edward and Bella.
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For fans of the ‘Rocky’ films, nothing’s more iconic than the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the Italian Stallion himself trained. In 1982 during the filming of ‘Rocky III,’ Sylvester Stallone commissioned artist A. Thomas Schomberg to create several statues of the titular hero, one of which was placed on the museum’s steps. Later, the sculpture was moved several times as the museum and Philidelphia’s Art Commission squabbled over whether it qualified as art. Ultimately, the sculpture found its way back to the museum and it remains there today as a popular tourist attraction.
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The Old Mill
Fans of the classic film Gone with the Wind will recognize this North Little Rock landmark instantly, as the reproduction grist mill was featured in the opening scene of the movie. Today it serves a more humble purpose, as a quiet retreat from the city.
Surrounded by lush scenery, the mill can be toured if so desired with the booking of a tour guide. Perhaps a better way to spend the day, however, would be to simply enjoy the day with a picnic or a book in this sweet hideaway.
3850 Lakeshore Drive
North Little Rock, AR 72119
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The Shining’s Stanley Hotel
Known for its old-world charm and breathtaking mountain views, Stanley Hotel is also notorious for its connection to The Shining, one of Stephen King’s most famous films. The hotel’s founder, Freelan O. Stanley of Stanley Steamer, and the many famous guests it has hosted over the years, further its rich history and claims to fame. The hotel celebrates this fame by offering ghost tours to its guests. Tours include history of the hotel, a stop in room 217 where The Shining began, recounts of ghost sightings and a trip through the underground tunnel.
The now luxury resort hotel is located just six miles from Rocky Mountain National Park and approximately one hour from Denver. Its location makes it a popular Colorado excursion.
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Harold Lloyd was born in Burchard, Nebraska. The site used to host an annual Harold Lloyd film festival, but due to dropping attendance to the on-site museum and festival, the house has basically fallen into disuse.
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Brought to international attention by the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devils Tower has been a sacred place of numerous Indian tribes since prehistoric times. Various legends are told about the origin of the tower. One story, common to the Kiowa, Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne and Sioux tribes, concerns a group of seven Indian girls pursued by a giant bear. One day the seven girls were playing in the forest when a great bear came upon them and gave chase. The girls fled swiftly through the trees but the bear slowly gained on them. Recognizing the hopelessness of their situation, the girls jumped upon a low rock and prayed to the Great Spirit to save them. Immediately the small rock began to grow upwards, lifting the seven girls higher and higher into the sky. The angry bear jumped up against the sides of the growing tower and left deep claw marks, which may be seen to this day upon the rock walls. The tower continued to soar towards the sky until the girls were lifted to the heavens, where they became the seven stars of the Pleiades.
Known to the Indians as Mateo Tepee or Grizzly Bear Lodge, the tower is actually the remnant of a volcanic extrusion of 60-70 million years ago. Rising 1200 feet, the tower was first seen by non-natives during a geological survey in 1875. The surveyors called the rock Devils Tower after an old Indian name, The Bad God’s Tower. It was first climbed, using a long wooden ladder attached to the rock face, on July 4th, 1893. Proclaimed the first US National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, the tower is today a popular climbing site and over 20,000 ascents have been made. Jutting magnificently out of the surrounding terrain, the tower was a much venerated vision quest site of the Indians. Its use in this regard has continued to the present time, for both Indians and non-Indians, and many visitors have reported seeing strange light-phenomena and UFO’s around the tower’s summit.
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Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (Dir: George Lucas, 1983).
Redwood National Park, Crescent City, California, USA.
Redwood was the location used for the Ewok home planet, the lush, densely forested moon of Endor and was the backdrop to some of the first trilogy’s most memorable scenes, including the speeder bike chase and the Ewok vs/ Scout Walker showdown (officially called the Battle of Endor.).
Not everyone likes the Ewoks, their cuteness and lunchbox lid-ability smack of immodest merchandising, but I don’t know any fan who’s heart doesn’t cheer when the Scout Walker gets it’s ‘head’ crushed between two logs in a high vs. low tech duel. However I find it difficult to believe that in a battle that saw the death of both Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader (who are both buried amongst the moons sequoia and redwood trees) and numerous storm troopers only one Ewok is killed.
While visiting Endor’s forest moon you can’t meet an Ewok or visit an Ewok treetop village but you can see the worlds tallest Redwood tree, which is apparently as tall as a 36 storey apartment building.
Redwood National Park was recast as an isolated island off South America for the film Jurassic Park.
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Bonaventure Cemetery was established in 1846. It’s old and overgrown in a lovely, slow, southern way. Most people know it from the book or film ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’, and it’s just like that. Seeing as it was used as a location for the film. The statue of the girl that appears on the front of the book has been moved – no one knew she was there, on the family plot of Lucy Boyd Trosdal, but once the book was published everyone went looking for her so she’s been moved to the Telfair Museum of Art.
Notable residents include Johnny Mercer, Hugh W. Mercer, Condrad Aiken, and Jack Leigh the author.
The main gate is at 330 Bonaventure Road.
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