Thursday, June 27, 2019

Road Trip! Fantasy and Science Fiction Movie Location to Visit

Summer is here and that means road trips. Turn off the TV, plug in coordinates to the GPS and visit real movie locations. You don’t have to settle for California. Many movies were shot in areas nowhere near La La Land and open to the public. We all know about the beauty of New Zealand thanks to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit movies. If you have the bucks you can actually can pop into Hobbiton and many of the places where the movies were film. On a tighter budget? There are plenty closer to stateside to choose from and they’re not exactly what or where you’d expect.

Ghostbusters Headquarters
The building is actually Hook & Ladder Company #8, a fully working and operational New York Fire Department firehouse at 14 North Moore Street in TriBeCa. Exteriors were shot in New York City and interiors in Los Angeles, Fire Station #23, 225 E. 5th Street. It was decommissioned in 1960 and is now a Historic Cultural Monument for Los Angeles.

This one might blow your mind. Although the movie supposedly takes place in future Detroit, the downtown area is actually a mash-up of Pittsburgh and Dallas. OCP corporate headquarters is Dallas City Hall at 1500 Marilla St. Matte paintings made the building appear taller (and more ominous). Check out more before and afters posted by the Dallas Film Commission.

Star Wars: A New Hope
The Massassi Outpost rebel base on the fourth moon of Yavin in the original Star Wars film was shot on location at the Mayan temple ruins in The Tikal National Park in Guatemala. Director George Lucas picked the location after spotting a poster at a travel agency while shooting in London, England. A trip to Tatooine starts a little farther. The Mos Eisley Spaceport was really Ajim, Djerba Island, Tunisia, while Tosche Station was Sidi Jemour, Djerba. They already sound like science fiction locations. Don’t want to travel halfway across the world? The Tatooine desert was Death Valley National Park.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Poor Katniss had it tough in The Hunger Games. Yeah, sure, real tough when she spent her days basking in luxury at the Marriott Marquis Hotel at 265 Peachtree Center Avenue NE in Atlanta, Georgia. The building served as the Tributes’ Quarters and Training Center. Production designers chose the Marriot for the glass elevators and central atrium, at one time the largest in the world. The Tributes’ living quarters were filmed on the 10th floor and another set built on the hotel roof.

The Shining
Heeeere’s Johnny. Actually, here’s a conglomeration of hotels that inspired The Overlook. The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, California, inspired the interior while exterior and establishing shots came from the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. Stephen King’s original inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in the novel was the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Kubrick never shot there, but it was used in the 1997 made-for-TV version of The Shining.

X Men
The exterior for Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is Hatley Castle, in British Columbia, although Casa Loma in Toronto and ParkwoodEstate in Oshawa, Ontario were also used. Interiors were sound stages. Hatley Castle is a National Historic Site and tours are available.

Logan's Run Before Black Friday Sales
Logan’s Run
A dystopian future never had so much great stuff to buy and check out the nummy hot pretzels at the food court. Although areas around Dallas/Fort Worth were filmed, the domed dystopian future city was actually a shopping mall named the Dallas Market Center.
Logan's Run After

Logan’s Run is one of my favorite cheesy bad movies. It’s quite awful from beginning to end and I’d always hoped to visit and check out the sales while I wandered around recreating the escape of Logan 5 and Jessica 6. Unfortunately, urban development necessitates progress and the The Dallas Market Center now looks like this, a fitting end for the set of a dystopian city.

The real Field of Dreams is a real family farm. Located in Dyersville, Iowa, the Lansing Farm has free admission and live, guided 30-minute tours. Hear stories about the Lansing family who homesteaded in the early 20th century, and the farm’s rebirth as the set for the Kinsella family in the 1989 fantasy classic. The baseball field is still there and used for games. Want to stay overnight and talk your dead daddy into a catch? The house is available for rent on

Groundhog Day
On my top ten list of best fantasy movies ever is Groundhog Day. While the story takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, it was almost entirely filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The quaint bed and breakfast where Bill Murray’s Phil Connors stayed was the Royal Victorian Manor, at 344 Fremont Street. Alas, it is now closed. You’ll have to settle for a selfie out front.

The Blob
It’s alive! Well, not exactly alive, but the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania is open for business. If you’re a fan of classic science fiction, you surely can’t pass up a visit to a place where the blob nearly oozed through a building full of teenagers. July 12th this year is the annual Blobfest where you can catch a show and then run screaming from the theater.