|Film companies are making a killing with Louisiana-set creature features|
The state's generous tax credits for filmmakers may have brought in plenty of productions and jobs, but they also unleashed some destructive, terrifying and often ridiculous monsters on our cities and defenseless masses. Kudos to SyFy and Louisiana-based Active Entertainment for often forgoing Louisiana as stand-in-for and instead setting the campy terror right here in the Pelican State.
Says Daniel Lewis of Active Entertainment, “The audience for these types of films is massive, and we enjoy providing content that will allow the viewers to have a good time with friends and family. Louisiana's landscape allows us to achieve the creative needs of almost any script, as it offers such a variety of locations from swamps to rivers, big cities to small towns.”
Here are a few of the local monsters that hit the big screen and the small screen recently:
Fire-breathing spiders: In SyFy's Arachnoquake, Tracy Gold and Edward Furlong try to save New Orleans (though it's mostly shot in Baton Rouge) from giant albino spiders that emerge from deep underground after a fracking-related earthquake. So, it's actually a cautionary tale about natural gas exploration. Look for the downtown Chase Bank building and the riverfront in the background of a few scenes, as well as plenty of stereotypical Southern accents. Also, the spiders breathe fire, so, there's that. They come from underground, you see.
Sharks in a swamp: In Swamp Shark, a horrible sea creature finds itself in the Atchafalaya Basin (which means it's pissed) just as the local teens hit the beaches for the annual Gator Fest. You knew the Basin had beaches, and crystal clear waters, too, right? Kristy Swanson stars as the owner of the local “Gator Shack” restaurant, and she sets out to save the drunken jailbait from this non-native species in SyFy's version of Jaws on the bayou.
Aurochs in the Bathtub: With all the accolades heaped on Beasts of the Southern Wild's director Behn Zeitlin and his young star Quvenzhané Wallis, it's easy to forget the MONSTERS! In the film, aurochs, the Paleolithic boar-like creatures of your nightmares (once you knew there was such a thing), break free from the frozen South Pole and trample the marshes and fishing towns south a' Houma en route to the Bathtub. For most of the creature scenes, the film crew used pot-bellied pigs donning nutria skins and horns.
Pliosaurs: Featuring another x-tinct critter terrorizing our waterways, the x-citing film Xtinction: Predator X aired on SyFy last year. In it, an ancient ancestor to the alligator attacks a swamp tour, pulls a Free Willy over a levee and otherwise wreaks havoc. The movie was produced by Baton Rouge-based K2 Pictures, responsible for other Louisiana-shot films like Lockjaw: The Rise of the Kulev Serpent (starring DMX) and Jules Verne's Mysterious Island.
Aliens from outer space and also tornadoes: Last year's Battle: Los Angeles featured a lot of Spanish Town standing in for L.A.—covered in ash, swarming with extraterrestrials and military types—and even offered a few glimpses of the State Capitol building in the background. The SyFy film Alien Tornado—exactly what you think it's about—features small-town Louisiana standing in for small-town Illinois as a country fella and his daughter, played by Baton Rouge's Stacey Asaro, run from alien-controlled tornadoes.
Vampires: HBO's True Blood has found a home in Shreveport, but Baton Rouge's Twihards were abuzz with sightings of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as production of Twilight: Breaking Dawn took over downtown, complete with a huge green screen in Arsenal Park. Over in New Orleans, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter mixed a historic epic with the bloodthirsty undead for some huge battle scenes in plantation country.
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