Using GoogleEarth, I captured these current satellite images of locations where eleven of my favorite movies were filmed. It took a little bit of detective work, and double-checking some addresses, but with a little bit of "zooming, flying and spinning" over these places with a detailed-oriented eye (and a re-examining of my DVDs) I'm sure I have my information correct.
These are all still images (you can click on each image for a much larger view), and don't really match the experience of using GoogleEarth (which allows you to move all over the place, zoom in and out, spin around, change angles and even 'drive' or 'fly' down streets). Therefore, I have included the longitude and latitude of each location, so if you have access to GoogleEarth you can visit these places yourself, and explore on your own.
Those familiar with GoogleEarth know that it does something strange with "3D" perspective (using flat overhead images to kind-of 'fake' the appearance of terrain and buildings). I found that at an angled perspective (which most of these shots are), the images looked best when the shadows from the sun were either directly behind, or directly in front of objects. This kind of dictated what angle I captured, because otherwise the images just looked too weird (for instance this is why I chose to show the front of the school house from The Birds is facing away). But like I said, using the longitude and latitude, you can use the program to visit these places your self and do your own electronic stalking... oops, I mean snooping.
I actually found it very fascinating to see what these places look like today. Most of these locations are incredibly ordinary and, weirdly, most of them are practically unchanged. I couldn't help but wonder if the people that lived in the immediate areas were even aware that they lived next to these odd, randomly immortalized spots... the recognition that they had been frozen in cinematic history perhaps only realized by a handful of curious and devoted followers who make occasional pilgrimages. When you watch a favorite film, your willing suspension of disbelief makes you feel as if the location of each scene is the only place on Earth at that moment. Using this program to access overhead satellite images of these places double-destroys that willing suspension of disbelief, making you realize that these set locales are extremely "un-special" in the most soberingly bland way possible. They're almost just random specs, cramped and suffocated by the sprawl of houses, buildings, parking lots, cars, roads, trash, people and the rest of the clutter that surrounds them in all directions.
Having to literally scan and scan in the vicinity of where I knew these specific locations probably were until I spotted them (they hardly stood out) made me realize how these places, however immortalized, were nothing more than tiny, autonomous squares in a giant, zillion-squared patchwork quilt junk puzzle that covers the entire planet. Still... who can resist? Not me! Gawk away fellow film nerds..
I found current satellite captures of locations from the films Blow Up, Harold and Maude, Friday the 13th, La Dolce Vita, Heathers, Dog Day Afternoon, Back to the Future, The Birds, Fight Club, Logan's Run and Psycho.
On the continuation of this post (link below), you can see everything that I found...
(click all images to enlarge)
The park from Blow Up (dir: Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)
L: 51 29'24.86N
L: 00 02'33.45"E
I have to say that I can think of few other film locales that are more perfect for film obsessives to explore and electronically "walk around" nearly forty years later via the internet, using an overhead satellite photo accessing program.
This is Maryon Park in London, where all the park scenes in Blow Up were filmed. As you can see the tennis courts are still there, and above them is the large patch of green that opens and closes the film.
The thin, long, diagonal patch of open grass (that runs from over to the left of the courts a bit, all the way down to almost the left bottom corner of this photo) is the open space where Hemmings quietly photographed Venessa Redgrave during her fatal rendezvous, and where Hemmings later returned to investigate. The place where Hemmings entered the scene and leapt over the fence is the upper, right part of this long patch. The staircase where Hemmings and Redgrave confronted each other is at the tip this upper part too, (obscured) under the trees. When Redgrave fled away, she was obviously running down towards the lower left corner. The little wooden fences are apparently all gone now.
See the little strip of paved street that runs between the two buildings in the lower left? This is Clevely Street, and is the small street that Hemmings walked along as he left the antique shop and entered the quiet park (the shops and buildings along this street have been mostly torn down and renovated). Right above that little red car at the end of Clevely, is the small gate that Hemmings walked through when he entered the park... and a bit above that (after the little open square to the right) are the four trees planted in the small paved area (which are apparently still there) at the beginning of the walkway.
If you have GoogleEarth, it's interesting to explore the streets and areas below this photo and try and match them to the film (only some scenes were actually filmed right outside the park). The current photo on GoogleEarth is pretty crisp, and you can zoom in quite close. Although, in contrast to the relatively run-down but still very unchaged Maryon Park, the surrounding area has been renovated so drastically that it's almost all unrecognizable.
The cliff Bud Cort drove his car off at the end of Harold and Maude (dir: Hal Ashby, 1971)
L: 37 37'10.83"N
L: 122 29'51.64"W
This is a rocky cliff right next to Mori Point in Pacifica, CA, and is the cliff that Bud Cort drove his car off at the end of Harold and Maude. The place where the car landed is at the top of the long-ish, dark rocky patch right in the inside center of the curved-in part of the cliff (the tide is higher here than when the scene was shot).
GoogleEarth does weird things with "3-D" terrain (the cliff walls and water kind of melt into each other), but the hills to the right of this photo, where Cort walked away while playing his banjo, are fun to explore.
The original "Camp Crystal Lake" from Friday the 13th (dir: Sean S. Cunningham, 1980)
L: 14 03'49.72"N
L: 74 56'41.10"W
This is Camp NoBeBoSco, right outside of Blairstown, NJ, and it is the camp that the original Friday the 13th was filmed in. It was then (and still is) a working camp. "Crystal Lake" is actually called Sand Pond.
It's easier to see in the enlarged version, or using GoogleEarth, but that little white pointy thing on the right side of the kind-of top part of the pond (below those two white circles) pointing into the water, is the wooden dock that the counselors sunbathed on (and where Alice had her final confrontation with Mrs. Voorhees).
This part is kind of hard to explain but bear with me: the dark building just inside (and to the right side of) the upper left arm of the "H" formed by the gray paths in this photo - that's the main cabin where most of the action in the film was shot (where they played strip Monopoly, where Alice barricaded herself in the kitchen pantry, etc.) The original archery range is apparently still there too.
You can go down the road southeast, and explore Blairstown, where all the "in town" scenes were actually filmed (the diner just outside of town is still there also). None of the other Friday the 13th films were shot at this camp.
The beach where Marcello Mastroianni and others discovered the sea monster at the end of La Dolce Vita (dir: Federico Fellini, 1960)
L: 41 52'28.10"N
L: 12 10'37.26"E
This is a strip of beach in the small sea resort town of Fregene, Italy, and it is the beach where Marcello Mastroianni and the other party-goers gawked at the beached sea monster at the very end of La Dolce Vita. You can see the little inlet that the young girl stands on the other side of as she motions to Mastroianni. The buildings were obviously not there in 1960, and it appears that the forest area (that the characters slowly emerge out of at dawn) may have been scaled back to build the roadway. I'm pretty sure the house where the group had the all-night party was not actually located in those woods. Don't let the "flattening" effect of GoogleEarth fool you, those are actually the tops of tall trees in direct overhead sunlight.
The school stairs Winona Ryder stood on (as Christian Slater blew himself up) at the end of Heathers (dir: Michael Lehmann, 1989)
L: 34 00'52.03"N
L: 118 28'13.76"W
These are the stairs outside one of the buildings at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica, CA, where Winona Ryder stood at the end of Heathers, right before Christian Slater blew himself up and she lit her cigarette from the explosion. The red carpet on the stairs and red doors were obviously done for the film (as was the 'Westerberg' sign).
This wasn't the only school used for the whole film. Other high schools (and some interior sets) were used for exterior and interior school scenes.
The bank and street from Dog Day Afternoon (dir: Sidney Lumet, 1975)
L: 40 39'28.09"N
L: 73 58'57.12"W
This is Prospect Park West in Brooklyn (a street in limbo somewhere between Flatbush and Park Slope). The bank was located just to the left of the white buildings on the corner (of the side of the street facing you in this photo). The exterior bank shots and almost all of the film itself was shot on this street (the interior bank shots were a set).
In 1975 the location was a real bank, but is now some other kind of business. It's obvious that the back of the building shots were not the true back of the building. I have been on this very street on a hot summer day, and it's so cramped and grimy and ordinary, that you would never in a million years guess that a film like Dog Day Afternoon had been shot there.
The "Twin Pines Mall" parking lot from Back to the Future (dir: Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
L: 33 59'26.56"N
L: 117 55'39.51"W
This is the southwest corner parking lot of the Puente Hills Mall in City of Industry, CA, and was the location of the "Twin Pines Mall" parking lot where Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox tested and launched the time machine in Back to the Future. Not much to add... if you're really familiar with the film you can see where all of the different scenes at this location occurred. This mall parking lot was obviously used for some of the sequels too.
The schoolhouse from The Birds (dir: Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)
L: 38 20'45.06"N
L: 122 58'18.60"W
This is the schoolhouse that Tippi Hedren sat outside of as the birds slowly collected on the playground and telephone wires, and that the children later fled as the birds attacked them. The building is no longer a school, but still looks the exactly the same (it's the building in the center with the steeple on the gray roof). It's on a quiet, remote lane on the outside of the small town of Bodega, CA. The town looks very peaceful, although Hitchcock "faked" many backgrounds in the fictional town with matte effects to make the layout appear different. I had to have the front of the schoolhouse facing away because of the weird perspective thing GoogleEarth does.
The actual bay (Bodega Bay) is right to the lower right of this photo, although the area with the gas station and restaurant and everything has been torn down and turned into a hotel complex. Apparently the town is actually in the middle of a bird migration path, and the air is always thick with squawking seagulls.
The original site of Lou's Tavern from Fight Club (dir: David Fincher, 1999)
L: 33 46'14.38"N
L: 118 16'42.06"W
OK, I know... it's just an empty lot now. But since I love the film Fight Club so much I just had to include this. This is the northeast corner of Figueroa Street and Harry Bridges Blvd., in Wilmington, CA. It is where Lou's Tavern (and parking lot) was located - where Ed Norton and Brad Pitt first started the fight club. Apparently the filmmakers spotted the nightclub (an old, closed-down topless joint) while scouting locations, and added their own signage and turned it into Lou's for the film (not sure if the interiors were shot there, the basement shots were obviously elsewhere). Since so much happened in the parking lot, it's fascinating to zoom around and look at all of the stuff you can see in the background of the various shots of the film. It's definitely an industrial area. After filming was done the entire building and parking lot was demolished. Maybe they'll open a soap factory in it's place.
The waterfall pool that Michael York and Jenny Agutter dive into at the end of Logan's Run (dir: Michael Anderson, 1976)
L: 32 44'52.28"N
L: 97 19'33.55"W
This is the Forth Worth Water Gardens in Fort Worth, TX, and is the spot Michael York and Jenny Agutter dove into to re-enter the domed cities (and where all the people came out to look at the old man) at the end of Logan's Run. In the film, the parameters of the location were obviously altered with matte paintings to look like the seaside and the edge of the domed cities (it's actually surrounded by boring city buildings, and a highway).
The actual public park is a very odd, modern kind of urban installation that consists of different areas made from concrete levels, plants, and cascading water arrangements (perfect for a 1970s sci-fi film.. as was most of the '70s modern' look of Dallas/Ft. Worth at the time). This part of the park is it's main attraction; a weird kind of "sink hole" with water cascading down the levels all around you as you walk down a (slightly treacherous) elevated pathway and then can walk around a weird, raised circular pathway at the bottom. Having grown up in Dallas, I have visited this park many, many times, and am always pleasantly surprised (as I was when looking it up on GoogleEarth) that it is still there after all these years (it's quite an odd thing to be in a Texas city). It's not kept up quite as well as it used to be, but is still quite nice, and very neat to walk around. The scene in the film gives a good indication of it's size. Oh, and if you dive head-first into the middle... it doesn't lead anywhere (except perhaps to you being rushed to the emergency room).
The Bates house and motel from Psycho (dir: Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
L: 34 08'10.64"N
L: 118 20'48.63"W
OK, I just had to include this one for posterity's sake... and here it is! The Bates house, and Bates Motel (even the stairway leading down from the house)... oh and look, why there's the motel sign!
It may have lost much of it's glory, sitting amongst all the hubbub of the Universal Studios Hollywood lot... surrounded by tourists in trams taking pictures of robotic sharks while attending Battlestar Galactica re-enactments - but apparently this is the actual house and motel and stairway... still there. The last time I visited the Universal Studios Hollywood lot tour (an attraction I highly, highly recommend) I remember the house was not surrounded by so many other buildings, and I have no idea what those weird structures are behind the motel. Who knows if it's all been moved (or... gasp! rebuilt?)
Did you know that the Psycho house is actually kind of a strange, sort-of half-sized model built specifically to look looming for Hitchcock's camera in the original film (which was always looking up at it from below)? The front facade (and porch) is pretty much normal sized, but the sides, back and top are oddly scaled down a bit (from the back it kind of looks like a big dollhouse).
Apparently the nature of the lot tour has changed over the years, and to get the full tour you now have to pay a special price for a "VIP" package (although apparently this one lets you walk around some of the grounds... something you could never do on the tram tour). Just roaming around the Universal Lot with GoogleEarth was interesting. I can see how, with a little sleuthing at fan sites for TV shows like Bewitched and Leave It to Beaver, etc., you could easily find their respective set houses amongst all the weird, fake little neighborhoods on the lot.