The greater LA area of Southern California is rife with pieces of film history. Literally thousands of LA film locations have been used to create far away galaxies and subterranean hideouts throughout the sprawling mecca which is composed of nearly ninety cities and thousands of neighborhoods.
Want to delve into LA’s cinematic history? You too can commune with movie history. It just takes some searching online. You can even plot out your filmmaker daytrip on Google maps! Most of the locations are actually pretty easy to get to. Seeing Los Angeles through your own “filmmaking goggles” is a great creative exercise. Once you do, you’ll understand why so many films have been shot here. Yes, the temperate year-round climate is one major reason Los Angeles is still the filmmaking capital of the world. The varied terrain, including beaches and mountains is another (with the desert just an hour away). But so is the existence of different neighborhoods, all with their own appeal and vibe, and then there’s the grit, the grafitti, the freeway underpasses.
The Bronson Caves
Head to Griffith Park to see an LA film location that’s been featured in hundreds of films. Called The Bronson Caves or Bronson Canyon, this locale served as the entrance and exit for the Batman’s “Batcave” in the 60s tv show. Also shot here: The Searchers, The Lone Ranger, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Return of Dracula, Star Trek, Robot Monster, The Mighty Gorga, The A-Team, The Outer Limits, Mission Impossible, Twin Peaks, V, Wonder Woman, Star Trek: Voyager, The Next Generation, Enterprise, and Deep Space Nine.
The “House” in Halloween
If you know your classic horror films, then you know Halloween. Laurie Stode’s house, you know the one Michael Myers runs into holding a butcher know, well that charming house can be visited in South Pasadena. It’s been fixed up over the years and now has a robin’s blue exterior with dark red trim. Just park on Main Street near the antique shops and coffee houses. The locals can point it out.
Vasquez Rocks is only an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles but feels like another world. Featured in many films and TV shows, most notably Star Trek, The Vasquez Rocks can be seen in Dante’s Peak, The Flintstones, MacGyver, The A-Team, Hart to Hart, F-Troop, Murder She Wrote, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
The “Kill Bill” Church
Head north to Lancaster, CA, to see the church where the bride was presumably killed in Kill Bill. Drive just an hour outside of LA and you can relive those scenes with the Seven Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. The church’s real name is The Twin Pines Church by the way. Go and see the place where the unforgetable opening to Tarantino’s Kill Bill was filmed.
The Nightmare On Elm Street House
Behold the fictional spirits of ancient evil. Visit the house Freddy Kruger haunted in A Nightmare On Elm Street, located right in Hollywood. While you’re there, maybe you can unearth the secrets of the parents who conspired against Kruger. The home of Nancy Callahan sits quietly nestled in the suburbs above Fountain Ave. Go and see it for yourself. You might even see the kids skipping rope, singing “One, Two, Freddy’s coming for you…”
Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard
John McClane survives a terrorist assault while trapped in a high-rise in the classic action flick Die Hard. The Fox Plaza is the real location of the fictitious Nakatomi Plaza. There’s even a massive mural of Bruce Willis inside of one of the parking structures. It’s definitely worth the trip.
Love Iron Man? Love donuts? Well, then you should probably take a trip to Randy’s Donuts. Inglewood’s own Randy’s Donuts is both a tourist attraction and a massively popular donut shop. The shop was featured in Iron Man 2 in a scene where Iron Man and Nick Fury meet and discuss the plot of the film. You probably remember it. It’s the one where Tony is sitting in the massive donut. You should probably do yourself a favor and just go get some donuts.
Learning Through the Challenges of On Location Filmmaking