"The Mystic Warrior" (1984) — NOT the last Iverson movie
"What is the last movie filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch?" ... It's a question that has no real answer, in part because filming at Iverson continues today, albeit on a drastically smaller scale than in decades gone by. But in order to get some handle on the question, we can look at various landmarks along the way — and clearly one of these is the 1984 TV movie "The Mystic Warrior."
Will Sampson in "The Mystic Warrior," first aired in 1984
It's noteworthy that references have been made to "The Mystic Warrior" as the last Iverson movie, including in Iverson family biographies — an indication that at least as far as the family was concerned, there was an end to the operation of the movie location business, and that end came in the early 1980s. Why "The Mystic Warrior" was singled out has never been spelled out, but its production coincides with a period in which much of the movie location ranch began to be sold off by the Iverson family.
"The Mystic Warrior": Turtle Rock, left, Gorilla, right, and Oat Mountain, background
The Iverson shoot for "The Mystic Warrior" consisted mainly of one sequence early in the movie that takes place on the Upper Iverson's South Rim, showcasing the features Turtle Rock and Gorilla, along with the ubiquitous Oat Mountain, all of which can be seen, sort of, in this blurry screen shot.
"The Mystic Warrior"
The movie places a variety of characters on the South Rim, including Native American warriors.
And levitate it does ... over the Iverson's South Rim. They used this angle a lot in the movie, and you can still see Turtle Rock on the left and Gorilla on the right, about midway up.
"The Tomb (1986)
One reason I tend to resist the idea that "The Mystic Warrior" was the last Iverson movie is this: Within a couple of years of the broadcast of "The Mystic Warrior," another relatively obscure production, the 1986 movie "The Tomb," filmed in the same area on the Upper Iverson where "The Mystic Warrior" shot previously. You can click here to read an earlier blog post with more photos from "The Tomb."
"Support Your Local Sheriff" (1969) — shot on the Upper Iverson
I've cited "Support Your Local Sheriff!" in the past as a turning point for Iverson, noting that the movie represents a coda to the era when the ranch was somewhat fully dedicated to location work. In practical terms, the movie ranch called it a wrap as a viable business by the end of the 1960s.
The heyday for filming on the movie ranch ran from the mid-1930s through the 1950s, coinciding with first the B-movie era and later the early years of the TV business. At the peak, well over 100 movies and TV episodes a year were shot on the ranch. From the end of the 1950s on, the number of productions at Iverson rapidly declined.
Another movie that is sometimes cited as marking the end of the Iverson era is the rarely seen and inauspicious "Motorcycle Cheerleading Mammas," released in 1997. But the truth is the site of the former Iverson Ranch continues to be used by Hollywood today, as it has for more than 100 years now.
Movie trucks parked on Redmesa Road in 2011 for a major shoot in Garden of the Gods
These days the productions include movies, TV shows, webisodes, video games, commercials and just about anything else that can be filmed or videotaped. The flow of productions has dwindled to a barely noticeable trickle over the past several decades, but it has never dried up completely.
Among the recent productions to set up shop at Iverson is the Web series "Daybreak," which shot in and around the mobile home park in 2012. Of course, there's a fundamental difference between filming in the mobile home park, which technically occupies former movie ranch turf, and shooting Iverson in its pure state, with the emphasis on sandstone boulders — as "The Mystic Warrior," "The Tomb" and other later productions did.