Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Omega Man (1971) - Film Locations

The Omega Man (1971)

Recently I tracked down the filming locations for the Charlton Heston movie The Omega Man (1971). This apocalyptic thriller based on the 1954 novel, I Am Legend was done once before as a movie for Vincent Price (The Last Man on Earth) and again a couple years ago as a movie for Will Smith (I Am Legend), but it is the Heston version I enjoy most. It is not that the Heston film is a better interpretation of the story - no, what I find most interesting about this version is that it uses Los Angeles as a backdrop.

Olympic Theater, 313 W. Eighth Street, Los Angeles

Charlton Heston is the lone survivor of biological warfare except for a few other humans who have been mutated into flesh eating zombies sensitive to light. During the day, while the zombies hide from the light, Heston scavenges the city trying to track down their hiding place. We see Heston at the start of the film driving around the deserted streets of Los Angeles and one of his stops is at the Olympic Theater located at 313 W. Eighth Street. Above is a screenshot of the theater as seen in the film and below is a photo of how the building appears today.

Olympic Theater, 313 W. Eighth Street

It's inside this theater that Heston watches the movie Woodstock. Because there hasn't been a new movie in the theater since human life was eliminated Heston is stuck watching this same film over again every time he goes to the theater. While watching the film he quotes the movie line for line.

Tower Theater, 802 S. Broadway, Los Angeles

During this early scene we also get a glimpse of the Tower Theater as seen in the screenshot above. I actually found the Olympic Theater because I of recognizing the Tower Theater. Below is a photo I took this morning of the Tower Theater.

Tower Theater, 802 S. Broadway, Los Angeles

Looking down Eighth Street, Los Angeles

Above is a screenshot from the film looking down Eighth Street. Below is a photo I took of the same location today (8/9/2009). Notice the Union Bank building is now the Union Lofts and most of all, the skyscraper in the horizon that did not exist during the time of the film!

Looking down Eighth Street, downtown Los Angeles

Looking down Santee Street, downtown Los Angeles
Above is a screenshot from the film looking down Santee Street in downtown Los Angeles. I wish I would have taken a photo of this location while I was walking around this part of town but I didn't recognize the location at the time. When I got home and looked at a larger version of the screenshot I noticed that the building on the lower left had an address painted on the side. I typed the address into Google maps and check it out - below a screenshot of the Google streetview. If you look at the windows of the building on the left and the far right you will notice that the same buildings are still standing. However, the two buildings in the near right appear to be torn down. Pretty cool what you can do with Google streetview huh?

Looking down Santee Street, downtown Los Angeles (C) Google

Heston's Penthouse
Above is a screenshot of Heston's penthouse apartment building. This is actually a facade located on the Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank. Below is a great photograph from the website How The Ranch Was Weathered showing the same facade as it appeared in 2008. I just went by the ranch yesterday and it still looks the same.

Heston's Penthouse - a Facade at the Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank

The Balcony of Heston's Penthouse as seen in The Omega Man

Ritchie finds the Zombie's Hideout
Later in the film Heston finds that there are a few other humans that have survived the biological warfare. One of these survivors is a teenage boy named Ritchie. Above is a screenshot of Ritchie driving his scooter to the hideout of the Zombies. Below is a photo I took of the same building a couple days ago (8/7/2009). The building is actually another facade, this one located at the main Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank.

Zombie Hideout from The Omega Man, Warner Bros. Burbank

I walk by this facade about once a week. I've even taken my lunch break on those steps - so when I came to this scene in the movie I immediately recognized the location. This was probably one of my most exciting finds because it shows part of the Warner Bros. backlot almost completely unchanged after the nearly 4 decades since the film came out!

Car Chase from The Omega Man located on WB Backlot
Above is another screenshot of the Warner Bros. studio backlot in Burbank. This location can be seen during the end of the film when the Zombies begin marching down the street and Heston starts shooting up the place. Below is a photo I took of the same area of the backlot as it appears today. For a long time this street was used as Chicago for filming of the hit TV show ER.

Warner Bros. Studio Backlot, Burbank, CA

WB Backlot as seen in The Omega Man
Above is one more screenshot of another section of the Warner Bros. studio backlot in Burbank as it appears in The Omega Man. Below are the same facades as they appear today.

Warner Bros. Backlot, Burbank, CA
The Warner Bros. Studio backlot is not open to the public, however, if you want to see these same locations then take one of the WB studio tours. You will be able to see all of these backlot locations except for the location of Heston's penthouse which is at the Warner Bros. Ranch. Unfortunately, they don't do tours of the ranch to my knowledge.

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