Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Old L.A. Zoo Ruins (Spooky Legends and Lore 2009)

(GPS: N34 08.015 W118 17.305)

If you like creepy videos I think you will really like this one I did:

Zoltan's Tomb Location (Youtube Version)

Zoltan's Tomb Location (Vimeo Version)

Technically, this area has not produced any well known legends. You might find something online where someone has come up with something about ghost animals haunting this place. For example, this L.A. Times article written in 2002. However, it still is a spooky place for a few reasons and one of the areas I thought would be worth showing during this Halloween season.

The site of the old zoo was built around 1912 and continued to be built on over the next few decades. By the mid-1960's it was decided another zoo was to be built about a mile to the north that everyone knows today as the L.A. Zoo. The old zoo had problems from almost the beginning. Animals died here under the poor conditions, and it was thought the Health Department was going to shut it down for good. More can be read about it history HERE.

It is a well known site for making scenes for movies. The most recent movies being the ending of Anchorman and Eraser with Arnold Schwartnegger. The movie I am going to talk about that had a few brief scenes done here is Zoltan: Hound of Dracula. I have to admit this movie is not something you should run out and buy. It is probably not one you should rent from Netflix. It is the type of movie a kid might get nightmares until he or she grows up and sees how silly that movie actually is. A few years back the L.A. Times mentioned that the dog, Zoltan, had his tomb here. So, I thought I would check it out.

The frustrating thing for me is the first time I went to check out the area the site was all closed off. I went on a week day when I figured no one would be there. That ended up not being a good idea since for some reason they had guards posted all around. I saw a bunch of vehicles parked around, and I had thought someone might have been filming something there. I talked to one of the guards, but he suggested I talk to someone else since he had no idea what was going on. So, I ended up driving out there for nothing. It was only recently that I went back. The sky and clouds were grey out, but that ended up being okay since I wanted the place to look as spooky as possible in my pictures and video.

Now if I understand correctly, Russian soldiers that not only look American, but speak normal American English create an explosion that opens up the remains of a tomb. This was not just a tomb, but a Dracula family tomb. Here Zoltan, who was bitten by Dracula himself to become a vampire dog, comes back to life. My picture is close by looking at a few of the stone cave like structures of the old zoo.
There are a number of these structures along the sidewalk.
I passed these and went up behind the stone cave structures. There are a bunch of monkey cages around. I kind of knew what I was after based on that old L.A. Times article I had read.
In the movie, Zoltan comes back to life, kills the Russian guard that is in the tomb, opens up the casket with his former owner Igor. They take this stairway out of the tomb in order to find their new master, a relative of Dracula, who happens to live in America.
My video does a good job showing how I got here. Behind the stone caves is a fence, but fortunately there are some holes in it. I was able to pass into it and visit some of the stairways. I examined two of the four possible stairways. I could not tell exactly which one they used. One of the four I am certain they did not use. The other three I could not tell. According to the L.A. Times article it would have been the one below. In any case, it does not really matter that much to me since I was just trying to recreate the effect of what they did here. (Edit: since this posting I am pretty sure I have which stairway they used figured out, but will leave this as it is. It was not that important to me then and still not now for what I was trying to do here.)
This is looking back up one of the other ones.
Of all the videos I have done, I really think this one creates the effect I was after. The music I used helps, but the weather and just the general atmosphere of being there was like being in a spooky old horror movie. When I got there there a bunch of cars were parked all around that morning. I got to the zoo about the same time as a scruffy looking older man sat down at one of the benches. I do not believe he was homeless, but it was kind of creepy being there. He eventually took off on one of the hiking trails into Griffith Park. Then while I was up filming some young Mexican guy was up behind the cages. I never got close to him, but he was there for a long time. There are older people that walk around the trails early in the morning, but the place tends to be isolated.