#3. The Town of Spectre from Big Fish
The 2003 Tim Burton movie Big Fish is kind of hard to summarize, but in a nutshell, it's a tale about the importance of storytelling, and other than a werewolf Danny DeVito, its most memorable element was probably the hidden town of Spectre.
Yup. Everyone here definitely listens to Pat Boone.
Spectre was a weird, magical place: a tiny utopia frozen in time where people walked barefoot, a poetic allegory for life and personal growth or something like that. But anyone can sit around and debate the true meaning behind Spectre. If you really want to crack that particular Burton nut, you should probably just head on over to Alabama, where the Spectre set stands to this day.
Yup. Everyone here definitely listens to Insane Clown Posse.
Yikes. This looks more like the dilapidated ruins of Spectre that Ewan McGregor visits near the end of the movie. What the hell happened here? Sadly, the boring answer is that precisely nothing happened here. After Burton was done with the set, it was left there at the mercy of Mother Nature, but if you ask really nicely and maybe offer some sexual favors, you can walk in and explore this depressing carcass of a movie whose main message was all about hope. The first thing you'll see are the poles that held the clothesline where the Spectre residents' shoes were hung as cinematic shorthand for whimsy. Most of the buildings are facades -- empty shells built to look like homes and businesses from the outside -- but a few notable exceptions include Jenny's house, where some of the film's most emotional moments took place.
Columbia Pictures, BGSU33
You'll still get emotional looking at Jenny's aged, decrepit corpse.
And if that won't sufficiently ruin the movie for you, you can always walk around and admire all the battered Styrofoam trees, because, yup, they even faked parts of the fucking forest.
#2. Field of Dreams' Baseball Diamond
Do we really need to talk about this movie? You all know it, and if you don't, we're pretty sure you can sue your parents for theft of childhood. Just in case, here's a quick recap: Farmer Kevin Costner hears a mysterious voice commanding him to plow his cornfield and build a baseball diamond, which somehow ends up reconnecting him with his dead father.
In the sequel, he builds a movie lot to reconnect with his dead career.
In real life, that very thing happened to farmer Don Lansing, except the voice came from a location scout, and there were probably a lot fewer ghosts. The Dyersville, Iowa, farm was subsequently renovated and became the land owned by Costner, which the Lansings were later allowed to keep, diamond and all. That's right: The Field of Dreams is real, looking just as it did in the film, i.e., seemingly dropped out of nowhere in the middle of a cornfield.
The History Channel still insists it was aliens.
The Lansing family quickly found out that if you build it, they will indeed come. The unassuming farm attracts 65,000 people a year, and the family allows them to park in the dirt lot and wander the grounds for a total of zero dollars, because even though the concept of "middle America" has been hijacked by politicians, there really are some great people out there.
Unfortunately, if you want to have your own emotional moment on the mound, or perhaps weep over third base as you fondly recall playing catch with Dad and how it all went wrong, you're going to have to hurry. Later this year, the field will be swallowed up by a monolithic sports complex sponsored by people who apparently hate magic.
Maybe the kids can defeat the greedy land developers by challenging them to a game of baseball.
#1. The Hunger Games' District 12 and Arena
The oppressive future dystopia of The Hunger Games is seen mainly from the perspective of Katniss and Peeta, two main characters from District 12 who are forced into a twisted battle to the death for the entertainment of rich assholes from the Capitol. District 12 is actually the poorest region of the Hunger Games' future America, and the themes of severe poverty and starvation that are described through its prism remain one of the most important elements of the book series and movies.
Needs more sparkly vampires.
So if you ever feel like taking a stroll through a physical manifestation of desperation that isn't Detroit, you can do it right now, because District 12 is a real town, although thankfully with fewer children murdering each other or dying of hunger. District 12 was mainly filmed on the site of the abandoned Henry River Mill Village in North Carolina, where you can still see the houses where Katniss and Peeta lived. That is, if you can get past the security guards patrolling the private property (as if that won't make the whole thing feel even more real for die-hard Hunger Games fans).
The train station where the challengers of the Games were selected, however, is located a little farther away, in the city of Shelby:
All aboard the PTSD Express.
Finally, the actual Games were filmed at the nearby DuPont State Forest, where you really can zip-line through the trees just like Peeta or brain yourself on the rocky Triple Falls while running around with your bow and arrow and calling yourself Katniss.
Hunger Games Fan Tours
May the odds of not getting sued for accidentally maiming a member of your tour group be ever in your favor.
In any case, these locations are sure to become huge tourist attractions for all Hunger Games fans, because as the movies taught us, there is nothing wrong with idolizing entertainment centered on death and misery.
If you want to read more from Manna on her stupid blog or follow her on Twitter, she's not, like, gonna stop you or anything. When not found shopping in Goodwill stores, Evan V. Symon can be found on Facebook.
Related Reading: Some movie sets might be in your own neighborhood, like the house from Up and the house from Halloween. And if you visit the Quality Cafe in Los Angeles, you'll be visiting the cafe in virtually every cafe-having movie you've seen. Hey, there ARE some things Hollywood reuses more than plots.