October 19, 2021

Icons of Darkness Descends onto Hollywood Boulevard With Horror-ible Movie Memorabilia

The latest addition to Hollywood’s horror-themed attractions is Icons of Darkness... exhibition of a privately-owned collection of movie artifacts, just in time for Halloween. 

It’s the most extensive private collection of its kind...

...located on Hollywood Boulevard just west of Highland Avenue in the Hollywood and Highland complex. 
It was supposed to open last year at The Montalb├ín theatre on Vine Street in Hollywood...

...but it couldn't get off the ground during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A year later...'s well worth the wait. 

And while walk-ins are welcome... may need to wait a little bit to get a time slot that works for you, as access is currently only by a guided, docent-led tour.  
Some of the largest items in the collection are screen-used dinosaur heads, hoods, and bodies from the Jurassic Park anthology, which form the centerpiece of the showroom (alongside original Stan Winston dinosaur maquettes from Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III and a velociraptor hatchling and eggs).

It's all from the collection of Rich Correll, who started his career unspookily enough as a child actor on the TV series Leave It to Beaver...

...and went on to produce, direct, and write many other TV series and their episodes...

...while amassing his enormous collection of artifacts and screen-used costumes, masks, props, and more.
His artifacts aren't just from horror films, but also superhero films, fantasy, sci-fi and sci-fi/horror (like Alien)...

...and more special effects-heavy features (like Mrs. Doubtfire, Harry and the Hendersons, Back to the Future, and the Batman anthology, whose various batsuits are on view).

Many of the items at Icons of Darkness are the work of special make-up effects creator Rick Baker, known for his work on Hellboy, Planet of the Apes (2001), The Howling, The Ring, Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" music video. 

...and An American Werewolf in London (whose full creature body by Rick Baker is on display). 

For those interested in going even farther back in horror history, collection highlights include a depiction of Lon Chaney as "The Phantom of the Opera"... casts (a.k.a. facial molds) of such horror greats as Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and more...

...and a tribute to the Universal Monsters, including Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Wolf Man (above). 

Other horror villains represented include Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining, Hannibal Lecter...

...It, Chucky, Pinhead from Hellraiser...

...Freddy Krueger (including an original glove and left hand from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors)...

...and The Joker.  
For some close encounters of the alien kind, there are also some Sleestaks from the Land of the Lost TV series...

...martians from Tim Burton's Mars Attacks...
...the "spiderhead" manifestation from John Carpenter's The Thing...

...the facehugger from Alien...

...and a horde of gremlins from Gremlins 2 (including Gizmo himself). 
Icons of Darkness currently fills the first-floor storefront occupied by American Eagle Outfitters for over 10 years (until 2018 or 19)—but the plan is to move into the upper levels of the building to allow for more room to show even more of Rich Correll's collection (a lot of which is still in storage).

So, unlike what was meant to be a temporary home at The Montalb├ín (which never opened), this is conceived as a permanent attraction. 

But you never really know with Hollywood—especially at Hollywood and Highland, which is evolving as a shopping center as we speak. 

I'm glad I got there when I did. Just in case it's not there the next time I look. 

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October 18, 2021

Photo Essay: A Last Oktoberfest at The Phoenix Club's Current Anaheim Home (Since 1992)

In 1960, a group of 15 German immigrant families formed The Phoenix Club in Anaheim to help promote interest in German-American culture and built its original clubhouse along the Santa Ana River near Katella Avenue. 
That was over 100 years after the first 50 pioneering German families had relocated from San Francisco and formed the Los Angeles Vineyard Society—but clearly, the Deutsch presence was still strong in their home by the Santa Ana River ("Ana" "heim").

October 13, 2021

I'd Like to Thank the Academy For Finally Opening Its Long-Awaited Museum on L.A.'s Miracle Mile

The long-anticipated Academy Museum—in the works at least since 2012—opened to the public on my birthday this year, after about a decade of waiting. Not having any other plans, I figured that was a good way to spend the day.

October 11, 2021

Photo Essay: Barris Kustoms Prepares to Depart Its Home of 60+ Years (And Take the Batmobile With It)

By the time I first got to visiting Barris Kustoms in North Hollywood, California, its founder and namesake George Barris had already passed nearly three years before.

I think I had a sense back then that his car customizing shop—long known as "Barris Kustom City," long before Pimp My Ride—might not be long for this world once he was gone.

October 10, 2021

Photo Essay: Ascending to the Ancient and Honorable Order of Squirrels at Strawberry Peak

While in Lake Arrowhead in August, I had a little bit of extra time before heading home—and my top priority was to visit the Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout. 


September 27, 2021

A Hawaiian Village Hideaway in the San Fernando Valley Holds Its Annual Luau, 2556 Miles from Honolulu

In the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, there's a 10-acre community of resort-style residential living that captures the mid-20th century perception of Hawaii and living in island style—though it's—a whopping 2556 miles from Honolulu. 

circa 1963 (Joan Huntington on left, Heidt on right) via LAPL

What began as a horse ranch had begun to transform into the hidden oasis it is today—Horace Heidt's Magnolia Estate Apartments—when 1930s big band leader Horace Heidt started building in 1955. 

September 26, 2021

Photo Essay: Pinecrest, Once the San Bernardino Mountains' Largest Resort

I'm a new member of the Rim of the World Historical Society, headquartered in Lake Arrowhead but covering many of the towns nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest—and it's making me feel new-to-California again. 

Like when I received the announcement of a tour of the old Pinecrest Mountain Resort, located in the "Crest Forest" town of Twin Peaks (formerly known as Alpine and, before that, Strawberry after a local strawberry farm).

postcard image via CardCow 

September 22, 2021

Photo Essay: The Former Ranch of Hollywood's Silent Film Era Western Hero, Harry Carey Sr.

On a tour of the St. Francis Dam disaster flood plain a couple of years ago with the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, we were supposed to visit the "Harry Carey Ranch"—but it was closed for a wedding.  

I'd never heard of it—and when we drove by, I saw nothing of it. Nothing besides the sign for the Tesoro del Valle residential community, which was built nearly two decades ago in Santa Clarita, California.

I finally got back there—to the Tesoro Adobe Historic Park—to see what was left of silent film star and Western movie hero Harry Carey, Sr.'s former ranch (reportedly "the first tourist attraction in Santa Clarita") and what had been washed away in the flood.  

September 19, 2021

Photo Essay: Exploring More of Winchester Mystery House, From Turret Tip to Basement

After driving nearly 400 miles over the course of more than six hours (making a couple of stops along the way, of course), it felt like a miracle that I made it to Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California at all for my first tour of the day

But after ambling up two-inch steps and making hairpin turns around switchback-laden stairwells up and down four stories over the course of a couple of hours, I found myself facing the fact that I'd been so ambitious, I'd booked myself on a second tour of Winchester Mystery House, immediately following the first

With just a few minutes of rest between the two, I was tempted to bail and head to dinner early. But the second tour was the one that was really appealing to me—because the "Explore More" tour takes guests in places of the mansion not usually open to the general public. 

September 15, 2021

Photo Essay: A Friday the 13th Visit to Winchester Mystery House

It's easy to dismiss the tragic heiress and philanthropist Sarah Winchester as having gone crazy...

...and that being the reason why her 160-room home, now dubbed the "Winchester Mystery House" is so bizarre and, well, mysterious