Jurassic Park celebrates 25 this year. Where were you? I saw it at the Opera House on Washington Square in Newport, RI, with a couple of friends, and I’ll never forget it.
I’d never seen such realistic, majestic, terrifying dinosaurs—I burst into tears of joy when the Brachiosaurus lumbered onto the scene, and the raptors scared me so badly I slept with the lights on. I’ve been a dinosaur lover since I was a little girl, but nothing…I mean nothing…has blown my mind like that since.
Until the opportunity to visit Jurassic World: The Exhibition presented itself last year. Everyone in the whole world thinks that all the cool stuff comes to the Northeast, but the reality is, it’s rare when limited engagements show up within reasonable driving distance from my home. When we found out it was going to be in Philadelphia—just under four hours from me—we were in (with the full VIP ticket package, which included souvenir photos and books and all kinds of extra perks) and we were taking our friend Bruce Shillinglaw—a thirty-year volunteer at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk—with us. We knew there was going to be nothing quite like visiting Jurassic World with a dinosaur expert (he’s a really humble guy and would probably argue that statement, but I’m sorry, no one I know knows more about dinosaurs than he does)…and we were right! In honor of this weekend’s release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, you can tag along on our super-science field trip to the Franklin Institute in the video below.
Ahhh, if there were only another exhibition to go to! But there isn’t this year, so the three of us (along with a few friends) will be seeing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in IMAX 3D tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. (and yes, I’m wearing my official Jurassic Park: 25th Anniversary Jurassic World dress I just picked up at Torrid).
Want a more full experience of what the exhibit was like? Below my video, there is a link to a FABULOUS, clear, high-def complete walk-through put together by the guys at the Jurassic Park Podcast.
If you’ve been following me on any social media or have read some of my work, you know I have a thing for all things abandoned. On a recent Dark Discussions episode, we reviewed the 2001 film Session 9—it has some small issues, for sure, but you can’t beat the atmosphere; it was shot in the real former Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts, which today is home to luxury apartments (yes, really).
I decided it might be fun to pull together a list of my favorite movies that are set in abandoned locations. I didn’t include films that have one or two stunning scenes in such places—believe it or not, the animated love fest Happy Feet would rank high on that list, with its most disturbing scene playing out in an abandoned Antarctic whaling station—only films that are almost entirely set in them.
Please note: The only thing these films have been judged on is the quality of the abandoned setting. Check out your favorite review venue if you want more detail on the film’s other aspects before watching.
Session 9 (2001)
An asbestos cleaning crew takes on a big contract at a crumbling, abandoned asylum, not realizing that they’re going to get a lot more than they bargained for when they find cassettes of a patient’s hypnotherapy sessions. Many people consider this one of the most terrifying movies of all time, but I maintain it’s because of the claustrophobic setting. Shot at Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts (before it was gutted and became Bradlee Danvers Luxury Apartments—check it out here), this is a fine example of how setting is sometimes the biggest player in what makes a movie scary. Watch Session 9
Ghost Ship (2002)
A salvage crew thinks they’ve hit the jackpot when they find a passenger liner that went missing forty years ago—one that had long been rumored to harbor massive treasure. But it also harbors something else: ghosts for sure, but I’m thinking more along the lines of splendid furnishings corroded by four decades worth of exposure to the salt air. For most of us, this is as close as we’ll ever get to exploring a derelict liner. The set is so ably rendered it’s easy to envision the grandeur that must’ve been. Watch Ghost Ship
A filmmaker and his crew go to an abandoned hotel twenty years after Read the rest of this entry