Archive for the ‘Cinema’ Category

The Top Ten Movies Filmed in Abandoned Places

Written by: Sean L.

When I wrote the original “Top Ten Movies Set in Abandoned Places” article, it was meant to be a throw-away piece. Just something to fill time. We had been busy in the early spring of last year, riding off our recent visit to the abandoned Enchanted Forest in Rhode Island. We needed a fun piece just to keep the site going, so I wrote it within an hour. A year later, it has become our most popular article with hundreds of views every month. There has been much demand for a sequel, and it has taken me a long time to put together. But it has finally arrived. I did the best I could to provide a nice mix of indie gems and Hollywood blockbusters. Enjoy!

Here are the Top 10 Movies Filmed in Abandoned Places.

#10 – Almost Mercy – Woonsocket Middle School

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3480446/

As per tradition, we start this list off with one of my movies (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4649390/). Yes, it’s petty. But it’s my list. Plus, this is the best movie I have ever been in. Even though most of my scenes got cut, it is still my favorite film I have worked on. I wouldn’t call it a horror movie, but it is pretty dark. The film follows outcast best friends, Jackson and Emily, who take it upon themselves to take revenge on the wicked world that wronged them. A good proportion of the film was shot at the abandoned Woonsocket Middle School in Rhode Island. After closing in 2009, this behemoth took on the honor of becoming the largest abandoned school on the entire eastern seaboard. The haunting location just adds an extra layer of darkness to an already eerily fun movie.

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#9 – Session 9 – Danvers State Hospital

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261983/

Number 9. Session 9. Get it? Though it may have flown under the radar for some, this spooky indie horror film has managed to withstand the test of time. Starring TV veteran actor David Caruso and a young Josh Lucas, the film follows an asbestos removal crew slowly unraveling mentally while working in a ghostly abandoned hospital.  Filming took place in the safe and usable sections of then abandoned (now demolished) Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts. Little set design was said to be needed for the film, and even actor David Caruso reported a few strange experiences while filming in the abandoned asylum.

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#8 – House of Dust – Mansfield Training School

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1309374/

We’re really sticking with the New England theme here. Featuring a few MTV stars and allegedly based on true events, the film was helmed by local film legend A.D. Calvo. The movie may not be a classic, but interestingly it was both set in and filmed at the abandoned Mansfield Training School in Storrs, Connecticut. The movie follows a group of college students exploring the defunct hospital that accidentally release some malevolent spirits from their ashy resting place. One by one, they become possessed by the souls of those long since past. Like I said, it may not be a classic. But the set design and the cinematography make it certainly worth a look.

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#7 – Skyfall – Hashima Island

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1074638/

Number 7 for 007. This one is farther down the list as it is a bit of a technicality. Technically, the film did not shoot on Hashima Island, as the Japanese government forbids anyone to set foot on it. But the production of the movie was permitted to use exterior footage of the island in the final cut. I think it’s still pretty cool. The film follows agent 007 on his latest adventure, pursuing the mysterious villain Raoul Silva, whose evil lair just happens to be the deserted industrial island of Hashima. The crew were forced to built a set and use CGI for scenes taking place on the island, but that is the real place you see in those exterior shots. Not bad for one of the best Bond films of all time.

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#6 – The Road – Pennsylvania Turnpike

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/

I assure you that “The Road” will be the only movie to feature on both this and the previous list. But it is just such an interesting movie with a very unique filming location. After an unexplained apocalypse decimates the world, a man and his son trek towards the coast in hope of survival. In order to capture this, the filmmakers turned to the famous abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. Though it is now a popular tourist attraction, this long stretch of abandoned highway was bypassed by a series of new roads. It was eventually left behind. Though cars no longer travel down it, local cyclists certainly enjoy it. But just like in this movie, beware of the long empty tunnels on the road.

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#5 – Hanna – Spreepark 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0993842/

This 2011 action film really doesn’t get enough credit. With a lot of heart and another fantastic performance from a young Saoirse Ronan, it is much more than meets the eye. The movie follows a young assassin, raised her entire life to be a killer, as she treks across Europe on one final mission towards freedom. One of her stops on this mission is at an abandoned amusement park in Eastern Germany. This is in fact Spreepark, an infamous former attraction of East Berlin. Known for its animal and wildlife themes, the park has remained derelict since 2002. Though there are plans to reopen the park in 2018, it makes an excellent backdrop for one of the key action scenes in this sleeper thriller.

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#4 – Blade Trinity – The McBarge

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0359013/

This one is actually one of my favorites. Not the movie, but this place. It’s not a bad picture by all means, in fact I think it’s the best of the Blade series. But that really isn’t saying much. Human/vampire hybrid Blade must team up with a gang of vampire hunters known as the “Nightstalkers” to take on the mightiest vampire of all: Dracula. The word vampire gets used a lot in that sentence, but I really didn’t know how else to word it. What makes this new gang interesting, beside being headed by Jessica Biel and a young Ryan Reynolds, is their hideout. A seemingly dilapidated boat, this is actually the fabled McBarge. A failed idea from the 1986 Expo in Vancouver, this floating McDonald’s has been bobbing around in the water ever since. While shooting in Vancouver, producers thought it make the perfect hideout for their new vampire hunting team.

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 #3 – The Blair Witch Project – The Griggs House

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185937/

One of my personal favorite horror films, and the movie that arguably relaunched the “found-footage” genre. Whether you love it, or hate it, you cannot deny the impact that this movie made. The film follows three college students searching for and eventually being stalked by the elusive urban legend The Blair Witch in the woods of Maryland. But what many fans may not know is that the house where the climatic finale takes place was not a set. It was real. Though now demolished, filming of the movie’s ambiguous ending took place in the historic Griggs House in Patapsco Valley National Park (where most of the filming occurred).  The house was over 200 years old, and made for the perfect creepy location to end this creepy movie.

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#2 – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Michigan Central Station

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2975590/

I think the title of this movie kind of explains the plot better than I could. Following the events of “Man of Steel”, Superman finds himself in a clash of ideals with the Gotham City vigilante Batman. An interesting piece of trivia about this movie though is that it was one of the bigger ones to take advantage of shooting in the city of Detroit during their financial crisis. With the first few weeks of shooting taking place all across the city, one of the more climatic fight scenes of the film was shot at the legendary Michigan Central Station. With many failed redesign attempts, the station has been abandoned for years. But she may have found a new niche as a filming location as other movies such as “8 Mile” and “Transformers” have used the building as a set.

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#1 – Jurassic World – Six Flags New Orleans

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0369610/

Just because I’m a big “Jurassic Park” fan. Always have been. The plot of this movie follows a very similar plot to all the other films in the franchise, except that the park is actually open in this one. But one factor that makes this film really unique from its predecessors is a certain location where filming took place: the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans. Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, the park was left flooded for some time. After a long legal battle, Six Flags was able to break their lease on the park and left it abandoned. Though many redevelopment proposals have come forward, it still sits abandoned. But much like Michigan Central Station, this old park may have found new life as a movie location. Big budget films such as “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, and of course “Jurassic World” have all filmed at the ruined park. How? Life found a way.

original-jurassic-park-jeep-front

Know of any other movies filmed in abandoned places? Let us know in the comments! Likes/shares/comments/concerns/confessions/criticisms/questions are always welcomed.

Wolves Not Far – The Abandoned Manchester Drive-In

Posted: May 1, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, Abandoned Fairgrounds, abandoned home, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Bolton, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, State Parks, Stories, Theater, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
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Wolves Not Far

The Abandoned Manchester Drive-In

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

We’ve had several encounters with homeless people in the past. I think every experienced urban explorer can say the same. We’ve come across empty tent cities. We’ve heard whispers in dark tunnels. And there are some places where you simply cannot shake the feeling that you are being watched. But this place was different. We hadn’t been to the abandoned Manchester Drive-In since the main lot had been cleared of brush. On our last visit, we thought all there was left to see of this place was old screen still looming high in the sky, along with a few old signs and speakers. But we were wrong. We don’t know who cleared it, but the massive amounts of vegetation have been pealed back to reveal what was once thought to be gone. And apparently, it didn’t take long for the lost and weary to claim this new place as their own.

 Opened in the early 1950’s, the Manchester Drive-In was one of many drive-in theaters to pop up in Connecticut during this time period. As opposed to the drive-in theaters of today, Manchester had only one screen. It could hold over five hundred cars per showing. But over the years, the excitement and the wonder of drive-in movie theaters began to wane. Most of the theaters across the state began to steadily close their doors, including the Manchester Drive-In. Unfortunately, the theater went out of business in the early 1980’s where it sat empty and abandoned for almost twenty years. It was finally purchased locally in 2006 to become a park along the Hop River in Bolton, Connecticut. Today, the former drive-in theater that once held over five hundred eager movie goers is now nothing more than a ruin.

When the brush had been cleared, the old snack bar was exhumed from her resting place. We had long thought that it was gone forever, collapsing under the weight of time. It is beckoning to all in search of exploration. But adventurer’s beware. Inside this old snack bar resides people that do not wish to be disturbed. In the guest sign-in for the park, we found some rather menacing messages: “I will f**king kill anyone who goes to the snack bar,” “Beware the Hobo Camp,” and “Wolves Not Far.” This could all be for nothing. But on our approach toward the old snack bar, we heard music coming from the backroom. As we made our way inside, the music suddenly stopped. Something stirred in the shadows. Whispers emerged from the darkness. We clearly were not welcome here, and didn’t stick around to say hello.

When someone does not want to be disturbed, we have always found it best to not disturb them. Especially when we find some rather threatening messages. The abandoned Manchester Drive-In is well worth a visit, and totally legal to do so as part of the state park. It is a very nice hike, and the old screen is always something to marvel at. Just be careful around the snack bar. Someone is clearly living here, and all they want is to be left alone. It is best to oblige them. All I know is that this is a far different place than the one I remembered. The last time we were here, this giant building was so engulfed by plants that it was invisible to passer-byes.  We honestly thought that it had collapsed years ago. But now that the brush has been cleared, the snack bar is once again open, but not for business.

Finish Your Popcorn – The Abandoned Willimantic Movieplex

Posted: October 27, 2016 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Mansfield, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Showcase Cinema, Stories, Theater, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Williamtic, writing
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Finish Your Popcorn

The Abandoned Willimantic Movieplex

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Cinema should make you forget that you are sitting in a theater.” -Roman Polanski

We have known the bustling town of Willimantic for many years now. When we were both in college, the town was like a second home to us. We did four years of university here; going to classes by day and enjoying the festivities of the town by night. Willimantic has always been a place full of life and light. It features an old school main street, many thriving businesses, and a rich local culture. Notable landmarks such as the Frog Bridge, Eastern Connecticut State University, and the Willimantic Brewing Company make it a surefire place to visit. But there is one place here that sticks out from the vibrant town around it. And that is the now defunct Willimantic Movieplex. Though it was once a staple of the local community, it is now an eyesore and a shadow of its former self. Today, it is simply used as a municipal parking lot for the local businesses. Sitting on a prime piece of real estate, the abandoned Willimantic Movieplex has had quite a history. But regrettably, its past is much more rich than its future.

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The Willimantic Movieplex was first opened during the heyday of the local community. Located right at the cross roads of both the historic Main Street and the nearby Route 66, the theater was in a prime position in downtown Willimantic. With no other movie theaters in the general area, it was very successful during its initial run. But as we all know, times change. And the movie industry is about as predictable as the weather. During the late 90’s/early 2000’s, attendance began to wane. Competition also sprouted up a few miles away with the new Mansfield Movieplex. Over the next few years, the ownership of the theater bounced back and forth like a game of hot potato. It closed and re-opened several times during this period, as multiple different owners tried to save the failing theater. Its final owners made a few minor renovations during 2004 in an attempt to recapture business. But it was never enough. The Willimantic Movieplex closed its doors for good in 2006. It has remained abandoned ever since.

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I honestly wish I could tell you there was more to see here. But sadly, there isn’t. Due to increasingly bad vandal activity and a large local homeless population, the doors to this place were completely sealed off. A large barrier blocks the front, which once featured two doorways and a small ticket window. Around the sides of the theater, all six of the emergency exit doors have been bolted shut. The paint on the walls is pealing off in droves. Vicious and nasty graffiti coats the exteriors. Discarded clothing, shopping carts, and other various pieces of trash are strewn about the ground. The once well groomed weeds and grass now grow wild and restless. But the theater itself sits quietly, waiting for the next entrepreneur to open her doors again and try to bring it back it life. But sadly, as each days passes, that seems to be less and less likely of ever happening. For the Willimantic Movieplex, it seems that the show is over. The tickets were purchased. The crowds filed in. The previews have played. And the movie has now ended. Roll credits. Finish your popcorn.

Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” – Jean-Luc Godard

Turn the Corner — The Ruins of Manchester Drive-In

Posted: May 27, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Automobiles, Bolton, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Manchester CT, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Showcase Cinema, State Parks, Stories, Theater, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Turn the Corner

The Ruins of Manchester Drive-In

Written by: Sean L.

Photography by: Amanda H.

Movies. Popcorn. Soda Pop. Greased back hair. Your best gal in the backseat of your Chevy. Just another Saturday night. There was a time. Most of us here are a little too young to remember these days. But back in the late nineteen fifties and early sixties, the drive-in movie theater became a bit of a phenomenon here in the US. There were at one time over four thousand drive-in movie theaters all across the country, mostly located in the rural sections. They were the place to be come Saturday night, not just for movies but for a chance to show off your ride. But for the old Manchester Drive-In, all of that is gone. Opened in the early 1950’s, the Manchester Drive-In was one of many drive-in theaters to pop up in Connecticut during this time period. As opposed to the drive-in theaters of today, Manchester had only one screen. It could hold over five hundred cars per showing. But over the years, the excitement and the wonder of drive-in movie theaters began to wane. Most of the theaters across the state began to steadily close their doors, including the Manchester Drive-In.

Unfortunately, the theater went out of business in the early 1980’s where it sat empty and abandoned for almost twenty years. It was finally purchased locally in 2006 to become a park along the Hop River in Bolton, Connecticut. Today, the former drive-in theater that once held over five hundred eager movie goers is now nothing more than a ruin. The pavement of the entrance way is cracked and crumbling. The old sign has become completely engulfed by wines and weeds. The lot itself has become completely impassable due to massive amounts of brush and vegetation. A few old speakers still stand along the outskirts. There is a pile of burned wreckage in the back that was once the theater’s concession stand. But most haunting of all, the one screen itself still stands. Though it is now a skeleton, it is hard to believe that this decrepit structure once played some of the most classic and timeless blockbusters of our time. It casts a shadow over its former glory. But if you look closely just enough, you can still see what this place was once like way back in the summer of 1962.

“Someone wants me. Someone roaming the streets, wants ME… Will you turn the corner?”

American Graffiti

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When the Lights Go Out

~Experiencing the Abandoned Showcase Cinema~

By: Sean and Amanda

Movie theaters, we’ve all seen them. We’ve all driven to the crowded theater on a Friday night. We’ve all stood in line for overpriced popcorn. We’ve all felt the anticipation of the next big flick when the lights of the theater go out. But few of us have seen what becomes of these places when we’ve gone. There are no more crowds. There are no more lines. And the flick never comes on. There is only darkness. We have explored many different types of abandoned places, but few have been as haunting and as mesmerizing as an abandoned movie theater. Unlike the many abandoned hospitals and businesses we’ve explored, movie theaters were once a place of joy. They are not victims of dark pasts or controversy. They are merely sad places that couldn’t keep up with the ever changing movie market, and for that they were left behind. Forgotten. We were able to visit one such place.

Based in New England, the Showcase Cinemas franchise is owned by the larger parent company of National Amusements which owns thousands of movie theaters all over the world. The Showcase Cinemas branch is mostly exclusive to the New England area, with a few theaters in the United Kingdom and other countries. Currently, there are about thirty Showcase Cinema theaters in the US, including those in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Around the time of 2008, theaters began to close across the state of Connecticut. Due to reasons such as close proximity to other theaters, higher ticket prices, and the continuing development of movie technology, these theaters were deemed no longer “financially viable.” About half dozen Showcase Cinema theaters in Connecticut were closed over the next few years. They now sit empty.

Having seen several of these abandoned theaters in our travels, we decided to pay a visit to the nearest one. Since they were once active, finding these abandoned theaters is not too difficult. A Google search and MapQuest were all we needed to find all of the information we needed for our investigation. Interestingly enough, these theaters are not commonly explored by other urban explorers. So we did not have much of any information on what we could expect to find at the theater. We were flying in blind. We did not know what kind of security was in place, what kind of shape the building was in, or what the legal status was of being there. It certainly promised to be one of our more unique investigations to date.

We made a trek to the abandoned Showcase Cinema theater on a beautiful October afternoon. It wasn’t too much of a drive, and the theater stood right beside the highway. Facing this highway stood the old marquee, though now all it says is “CLOSED.” It was indeed a haunting site, especially with the golden afternoon sunlight baring against the theater’s decaying walls. The theater unfortunately shared a parking lot with a grocery store, so we were forced to be discrete in our investigation. We chose to scout out the property in our car first. No security forces were spotted, though several security cameras were in operation along the building’s main entrance. Other than on the building itself, there were not any “No Trespassing” signs visible on the property. The lot appeared to be taken care of though, as there were no signs of litter or graffiti anywhere.

When we first drove in, we got an excellent view of the theater. The “Showcase Cinemas” sign still greets visitors, though now it is slowly graying. The parking lot is in poor shape. Nature has begun to reclaim it, as much of the pavement is cracked by furiously growing weeds and vines. The lines for parking spots are slowly fading away. We even found an old stop sign still standing. The building itself is in relatively good shape for an abandoned site. Plants and vines grow heavily along the steps and handicapped ramps of the theater. The red paint of the handrails is slowly chipping away. Big grey splotches of mold coat the cement walls and steps. Even the old front sign is in poor shape. What once welcomed theater goers and listed show times is now a brown illegible marker.

The windows of the front main entrance are completely sealed from the floor to the ceiling, making the theater a near impenetrable fortress. There are also two security cameras guarding this entrance, protecting it from any potential vandals. Though the front entrance is completely sealed off and well-guarded, there are several other entrances to the theater in the form of back and side doors. These were once used as the emergency exits from each individual theater. Inside, the building is completely dark. With the front windows sealed off, not a shred of light makes it inside. Everything from the front ticket windows to the concession stand is cast in complete darkness. While there is no graffiti or liter on the outside of the building, it is prevalent inside. Glass display cases are smashed. There are holes in the walls. Carpets have been shredded. Even a few of the movie screens have been ripped up. Each theater is as quiet and somber as a tomb.

Several of the abandoned theaters in Connecticut have been demolished and their lots are being used for new and better purposes. But a good majority of these abandoned theaters still stand, scattered across the state. Much like most abandoned places, there are always talks of what to do with these sad places. But few things ever come to fruition. Though certainly not haunted, visiting this theater was haunting. Every little emotion that audiences once felt still echoes through the empty halls. Whether it was the laughs of a comedy, the tears of a drama, or the cries of a horror movie, these feelings still haunt each theater. Hundreds of empty seats sit staring at an empty and destroyed screen. But sadly, the lights went out in this theater a long time ago. The Showcase Cinema sits quietly in the dark, still waiting for the next movie to start.

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