Here's what the Iverson Movie Ranch obsession is all about ...

For an introduction to this blog and to the obsession a growing number of vintage film and TV fans have with the Iverson Movie Ranch — the most widely filmed outdoor location in movie and TV history — please read the site's introductory post, found here.
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• To find specific rock features or look up movie titles, TV shows, actors and production people, see the "LABELS" section — the long alphabetical listing on the right side of the page, below.
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• I've also begun a YouTube channel for Iverson Movie Ranch clips and other movie location videos, which you can get to by clicking here.
• Here's a link to Garden of the Gods, the best-known section of the Iverson Movie Ranch (featured in the movie "Stagecoach," the "Lone Ranger" TV show and hundreds of other productions).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Roger Corman's Iverson Movies, Part 2:
The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage
to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent

I posted recently about Roger Corman's first movie as a director, "Five Guns West," which included an extensive shoot on the Iverson Movie Ranch. You can see that post here.

Roger Corman

Corman has returned a number of times to the Iverson Ranch since that first effort. He directed four Westerns early in his career, all released in 1955 and 1956 — with "Apache Woman" and "The Oklahoma Woman" also filmed on the ranch. Corman soon transitioned to the more campy fare that has remained his calling card, but even when he's not shooting Westerns, he finds interesting ways to use Iverson's rocky terrain.

"The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent" (1957)

Corman filmed extensively at Iverson for one of his earliest cult films, "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent." That's the complete title, but it's also known by shorter variations, including "Viking Women and the Sea Serpent," "The Saga of the Viking" and "Undersea Monster."

If you're eager to get a good look at a sea serpent, don't hold your breath — there's not much here in the way of budget-busting special effects. But the Viking women content is good — and the Iverson content is outstanding.

Overall, the movie is good, campy fun. In the above shot, filmed in the Iverson Gorge, one of Iverson's most familiar landmarks, Nyoka Cliff, can be seen in the background as the Viking women and their boyfriends do a little exploring. Also visible in the background is a glimpse of the western San Fernando Valley.

As he always seems to do when he shoots at Iverson, Corman again comes up with some unusual shots of the movie ranch. Here's a double "burning at the stake" scene shot in Garden of the Gods.

This shot from a few moments earlier gives a better idea of the location, which is behind (or south of) Sphinx, another of Iverson's famous landmarks. The large rock that takes up most of the frame is Sphinx, and Tower Rock, also called Indian Head, appears in the top right corner.

The gang looks on during the stake burning from some of the nearby rocks in Garden of the Gods. For an update on the site where this shot takes place, please see this later blog entry.

In another fiery sequence, a crowd gathers on the summit of Nyoka Cliff, where the "sink" at the top of the cliff serves as a firepit for a cremation ceremony.

"The Fighting Seabees" (1944): John Wayne & Co. on the Nyoka Summit

John Wayne and his men took shelter in the same pit in "The Fighting Seabees."

"Viking Women and the Sea Serpent": The plateau above the Iverson Gorge

Here's an interesting shot from a location standpoint, because it shows Iverson's elusive Bulldog Bluff in context — a relatively rare occurrence in the movies. Bulldog Bluff was displaced years ago by a condo development, making it a challenge to pinpoint its location — and shots like this help a lot.

Bulldog Bluff, the sandy area noted in yellow, was a frequently seen feature in the many B-Westerns shot at Iverson, but was usually shot from above. The slope and the (relatively) soft sand combined to make it the perfect spot for the "bulldog" move — the takedown that ended a chase, typically involving a rider jumping from his horse at full gallop and "bulldogging," or tackling, the other rider, launching him off his horse and bringing them both crashing to the ground. Then they would typically have a fistfight in the sand near the base of Bulldog Bluff — with the good guy always winning, naturally.

Movie location expert Jerry England — the "drifting cowboy" — has a good blog entry about Bulldog Bluff, which you can find by clicking here.

Stepping away momentarily from Iverson, "Viking Women" includes a few shots at Bronson Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, including this one showing the entrance to Bronson Cave. The cave later became famous as the Bat Cave in the "Batman" TV series of the 1960s.

"Viking Women" shot extensively in Iverson's Upper Gorge and Garden of the Gods. This shot in the Gorge is set against the background of The Wall — a key rock feature of the Gorge during the filming era, and one that, sadly, was later destroyed to make way for condos.

Corman's "Viking Women" movie became something of a cultural phenomenon — even getting the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" treatment. I have a feeling Corman approves!

"Viking Women and the Sea Serpent" was even made into a swimsuit — Yowsah!

Roger Corman's "Teenage Caveman" (1958): Upper Iverson

Corman was back at Iverson the following year, filming "Teenage Caveman" — another movie that has achieved cult status. In the scene above, the title "teenager" — future "Man From U.N.C.L.E." Robert Vaughn, who was about 24 at the time — appears on the Upper Iverson's South Rim along with Darah Marshall.

Lobby card for "Teenage Caveman" featuring Darah Marshall as "the Blond Maiden"

"Teenage Caveman" provides a rare look at the lovely Darah — misidentified as "Darrah" on promotional material for the movie — who followed up her "Teenage Caveman" role with an all-too-brief career in TV. The movie also offers something that appeals to the intellect: It plays out as a literal adaptation of Plato's Allegory of the Cave, one of the essentials of ancient literature.

"Viking Women" and "Teenage Caveman" complement each other nicely, offering a summary of Corman's late 1950s Iverson Movie Ranch expeditions. Conveniently, someone else thought to link the two movies too, as they've been combined into a DVD set. Below you'll find a link to the budget-priced DVD set on Amazon.

1 comment:

1C1313 said...

Now I gotta see the movie. The back drops in the stills (photos) are intriguing but they are of course not giving the full impact the location has on creating the mystique of the movie.