Monday 22 April 2013
On Location: Haunted Asylums
When you watch a lot of movies it's just a matter of time before you start to recognize certain locations. Like Griffith Park Observatory, which I'm sure you'll remember from Bowfinger and Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle. Or Toronto City Hall, which was first made famous by Yeti, The Giant of the 20th Century and then again in Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
Over the past few months I've seen a lot of haunted asylum movies and just recently saw two films back-to-back that featured oddly similar locations. To be sure, the inside of these places all look pretty much the same but the outsides in these two cases were so alike as to give me pause to wonder if the movies weren't filmed at the same place.
They weren't. But typing "haunted mental hospitals" into Google inspired me to take a closer look at some of the locations used in the haunted asylum sub-subgenre.
Linda Vista Community Hospital
as seen in BOO!, 100 Ghost Street, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Linda Vista Community Hospital is on the US National Register of Historic Places. When the hospital opened in 1904 it was called the Santa Fe Railroad Hospital and was a Moorish-inspired design. The building was razed and rebuilt in 1924 in the Mission Revival style, and this is what survives today.
Initially, the hospital kept cows and chickens, and had a vegetable garden. In the latter part of the 20th century, the hospital fell on hard times and closed its doors in 1991. Since then it has become a popular shooting location for film and television. Beginning this year (2013), the nurses' dormitory building will undergo conversion into apartments.
as seen in Halloween: Resurrection, Grave Encounters, every TV show shot in Vancouver
Listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places, Riverview Hospital still functions as a mental health care facility, but in a much reduced capacity than when it first opened. In the first part of the 20th century, the hospital's grounds were 1000 acres and included a working farm. Presently, the hospital sits on 240 acres, the rest of the land having been sold off and developed.
Riverview is the most-filmed location in Canada, the Crease Clinic and West Lawn buildings being among the more popular.
Lincoln Heights Jail
as seen in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Room 33
The original jail was built in 1931 in the Art Deco style. In 1949 a second wing was added in Bauhaus Modern, and it's this mish-mash of architectural designs that gives the jail its unique appearance. The jail closed in 1965, and though it was only open for a short while, it still managed to colour its history with corruption and scandal.
On Christmas Day in 1951, LA police officers beat up six prisoners at the jail, believing they had caused grievous injury to a colleague the previous night during an arrest. As many as fifty cops were involved in the beating that lasted over ninety minutes. The beating was covered up, but continued pressure from the Mexican-American community forced the LAPD to investigate. Eight officers were eventually indicted, and five were convicted. A further fifty-four officers were transferred and thirty-nine were suspended without pay. The incident inspired the book LA Confidential.
The jail is a Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument, and like all similarly designated buildings is undergoing review for house or mixed-purpose zoning.
Danvers State Hospital
as seen in Session 9
Also known as the Danvers State Insane Asylum, the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers, The Danvers Lunatic Asylum, the Danvers State Hospital is rumored to be the birthplace of the pre-frontal lobotomy. It's believed that Danvers was the inspiration for the Arkham sanatorium that appears in The Thing on the Doorstep by HP Lovecraft.
Located outside Boston in Danvers, Mass., the hospital was built between 1874 and 1878 and originally consisted the main administration building, called the Kirkbride Building, and four wings. More buildings were added over the years, and all were connected by a series of tunnels.
Although originally conceived as a residential care facility, the hospital's services expanded and the buildings grew overcrowded. Patients where housed all over the place, including the tunnels and eventually reports were issued regarding concern over the use of shock therapies, lobotomies, drugs, and straightjackets. Deinstitutionalization saw a decrease in the patient population and the hospital eventually closed in 1992.
Kirkbride is on the US Register of National Historic Places, but that didn't stop the the hospital buildings from being demolished. Only the Kirkbride facade remains.