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.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• 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 at Iverson. You can see that post here.

Roger Corman

Corman has returned a number of times to Iverson 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 featuring Iverson footage. Corman transitioned early in his career to the more campy fare that has remained his calling card over the decades, but even after leaving Westerns behind, he continued to find ways to put Iverson's rocky terrain to good use.

The focus here is on one of his earliest cult films, the 1957 release "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," as in the poster above, as well as "The Saga of the Viking" and "Undersea Monster," among others.

If your interest in these movies mainly involves sea serpents, you might be disappointed. Its title notwithstanding, the movie gives precious little screen time to the sea serpent. However, the Viking women content is good — and the Iverson content is excellent. 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 go for a stroll. 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 atop Nyoka Cliff, where the "sink" in the top of the cliff serves as a firepit for a cremation ceremony.

Here's an interesting shot from a location standpoint, because it shows Iverson's elusive Bulldog Bluff in context — something that almost never happened. Bulldog Bluff, the sandy area at top left — directly above the three riders bringing up the rear — was a frequently seen feature in the many B-Westerns shot at Iverson, because the slope and the (relatively) soft sand combined to make it the perfect spot for "bulldog" moves — 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.

Bulldog Bluff is almost never shot from this angle, and because it was displaced years ago by a condo development, it has been a challenge to pinpoint its location.

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, the movie includes a few shots at Bronson Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, including this one showing the entrance to Bronson Cave. The cave is 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.

Roger Corman was back at Iverson soon after he finished "Viking Women and the Sea Serpent," working on another cult movie, "Teenage Caveman," a 1958 release starring "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s" Robert Vaughn. The scene above from "Teenage Caveman" was shot on the South Rim of the Upper Iverson. Vaughn was about 24 at the time, but that didn't keep him from playing the title teen. The movie plays out as a satisfying literal adaptation of Plato's Allegory of the Cave, one of my favorite pieces of ancient literature. "Viking Women" and "Teenage Caveman" complement each other nicely, offering a summary of Roger Corman's Iverson work during this period.

Conveniently, someone else thought to link the two movies too, as they've been combined into a DVD set. I've included a link below to the 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.