This underground passage is perhaps best known as the Bat-Cave from the 1960’s TV series “Batman.” “Star Trek” fans may also recognize them from the episodes “Friday’s Child” and “Bread and Circuses.” Others will know them from a host of mid-century monster movies: “Robot Monster” (1953), “The Brain from Planet Arous” (1957), “Earth vs. the Spider” (1957), “I Married a Monster from Outer Space” (1958), “Teenagers from Outer Space” (1959), “Eegah!” (1962), and “Invasion of the Star Creatures” (1963).
Roger Corman shot portions of several films here: “The Day the World Ended” (1955), “It Conquered the World” (1956), “Attack of the Crab Monsters” (1957), “Night of the Blood Beast” (1957), “Viking Women…” (1958) and “Teenage Caveman” (1958). More popular films that feature the Bronson Caves include John Ford’s “The Searchers” (the final scene in which John Wayne carries Natalie Wood out into the desert) and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter take refuge from the pod people in the old cave, only to fall asleep).
I’m a big fan of Don Siegel’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956), which has already been remade twice – Philip Kaufman turned the aliens into yuppies in the 1978 remake of the same name, and the writer/director team of Larry Cohen and Abel Ferrara took potshots at the military in 1993’s “Body Snatchers” (which was, at least, half of a really good movie). Each remake has been a substantial re-imagining of the original tale and I’ve often thought of this as a classic series on par with George Romero’s Dead films. The underlying themes are similar: “We’re them and they’re us.” The scene in which McCarthy and Wynter flee an entire town of pod people is one of my favorite moments in screen history… so naturally I had to track down the shooting location: at the nearby intersection of Beachwood Drive and Belden Drive.
Before the screening of “Transformers,” we saw a preview for the latest adaptation of Jack Finney’s novel “The Body Snatchers”… and I’m pretty sure the people sitting near me heard me groan. First complaint: the latest remake is titled “The Invasion”… as if distributors were afraid that target audiences wouldn’t go see a film with the phrase “Body Snatchers” in the title. And maybe they’re right – it depends on the audience they’re targeting. Which leads me to my second complaint (and this is a big one): It looks like “The Invasion” is more of an action-thriller than a sci-fi/horror movie… or at least they’re trying to sell it that way. It seems to me that the filmmakers are alienating a built-in audience: fans of the older films. I, for one, would rather go see a faithful remake of the surprisingly intelligent “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” than the latest action-thriller with Nicole Kidman. But then maybe I’m in the minority…?
on the north side of Bronson Caves
Bronson Caves - south side
Bronson Caves - north side
view from the north side of Bronson Caves
At the corner of Beachwood and Belden