With the Kill Bill church filming location as our eventual destination we had an early start after a lovely breakfast in the hotel. First stop was a quick jaunt into Lone Pine to get the now obligatory fridge magnet for Oz and pin badge for myself. We then made our way to the “Movie Road, a self guided tour through the Alabama hills featuring the locations of the films that have been shot in the area.
We drove up a tarmac road out of Lone Pines and turned right onto a dusty desert track. The track winded through boulders and desert past various filming locations of old wild west films. We drove through the Khyber Pass, or at least a part of the Alabama Hills that looked like the Khyber Pass for the 1939 film Gunga Din. We passed the filming location of the classic 1950s Lone Ranger series and the 1936 Charge of the Light Brigade film.The brush plains between the hills and the Sierra Nevada mountains were used in the classic western, How the West Was Won ( great sunday afternoon viewing if you have never seen it ! ). Other notable films shot in that area include Bad Day at Black Rock (1955, Man of Steel (2013), Star Trek V (The final frontier) (1989), Around the World in 80 Days (1956) , Django Unchained (2012), Tremors (1990) and hundreds of others i’ve never heard of or seen.
The road, and i use the term road very loosely, wound in and out of the huge boulders and canyons, through desert and lush trees and grassland before dropping us back on the main freeway 7 miles out of town. We then drove back to the start point of the movie road and headed left on another trail which was the area where Tremors was filmed. Although we couldn’t find a specific point or location from the film its easy to see the environment being perfect for man eating worms to live ! At one point drove down a narrow path which looked wide enough for a car – but wasn’t ! i should have some great video footage of the area when we get back home.
From Lone pines it was time to head off towards our next stop at Lancaster Ca. The 140 mile trip took us out of the Sequoia National Forest and through Red Rock Canyon. As we got towards Lancaster we decided to take a side trip past the Mojave Air and Space port where the planes that take the space shuttle up are kept and onto the musical road.
The musical road is a typically American attraction. Its in the middle of nowhere, no signs to it until you are on it and essentially its a 20 second piece of road with very slight rumble strips set at set intervals so that when you drive over it at 55mph the sound from your tyres play the William Tell Overture ! Apparently, they had initially built it for a Honda commercial but the local residents complained that the noise was too much and kept them awake, so they smoothed over the road and moved it to Ave G near Fox Airport.
From there it was off for a 26 mile detour out to the Mojave desert to the filming location of “The Bride” scenes in Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Being one of my favourite films i was pretty excited by this and the drive was through some pretty dramatic desert and scrubland out in the middle of nowhere.
When we finally arrived at the Sanctuary Adventist Church on the junction of East Avenue G and 198th Street E it was all i wanted it to be lol. In the middle of nowhere, looking exactly like it did in the film and with NOBODY around. Well when i say nobody i mean nobody except Oscar, the very welcoming curator of the church.
We were outside the building sheepishly taking pictures when the front doors swung open and an elderly Hispanic man told us to come inside and take some photos. He told us all about this history of the building, apparently it had started out life as a dance hall for all the local communities to meet at and then at some point in the 60s a film ( sorry i cant remember which film) added the bell towers to the top. Numerous music videos and films have used it as a shooting location including the original Terminator ! When Tarantino decided to use it in Kill Bill he changed the interior and put in the pews and ceiling fans that are still in place. Its now a fully active church that has services, wedding etc.
We signed the register and Oscar took some photographs of the three of us on the steps outside before handing us a signed bible from the “Kill Bill Church”. We left a donation towards the upkeep, said our thanks and made our way back through the desert to Lancaster. Safe to say it was a highlight so far for me and i’m still buzzing at the thought of such a great time spent there.
Lancaster is another of those strange, almost false American towns. The town centre was immaculate, not a leaf out of place, the sun was shining and Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and other 70s and 80s classic rock was being played through invisible speakers into the street. We stopped at the Brooklyn Deli and a had a couple of great sandwiched before a quick wander and then a drive 2 miles down the road to our hotel for the night, The Oxford Inn and Suites. It was an unassuming modern hotel just off the highway and when we arrived we had been upgraded to a large King Suite. The rooms and beds were massive and more than comfortable enough for one nights stay. That night we ate at the diner across the road which was very nice (cant remember the name!) and finished dinner with some fantastic all American Pie !
We had planned to visit the state fair whilst in Lancaster but we had seen the outskirts of it earlier and it had a hint of “pikey” about it, pretty much like a UK Fair with UK Fairground folk lol. It would of also mean another 5 mile drive out of town to the show ground so we just stayed around the hotel relaxing for the evening.