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The cast of The Matrix are too cool to notice the Jurassic Park dinosaurs.
The cast of The Matrix are too cool to notice the Jurassic Park dinosaurs.

Icons of Darkness

Field review by the editors.

Los Angeles, California

On Hollywood Boulevard, between the Jackie Chan Walk of Fame star and a Foot Locker, stands a storefront with a sign: Icons of Darkness. Visitors might bypass it as just another L.A. tourist shop with some selfie backdrops -- but that would be a mistake. Icons of Darkness is a museum that's equal parts art, history, and Hollywood; a true Frankenstein's monster of an attraction, a metaphor that in this case is both appropriate and an endorsement.

Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch of the West.
Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch of the West.

Icons is the passion project of Rich Correll, a Hollywood industry lifer with decades of writing, producing, and directing in television and film. His collection of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror memorabilia began when he was a child actor. "I made friends with old make up and effects guys," he said, recalling how he acquired his first relic: the Dr. Jekyll mask worn by Boris Karloff in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953). "In those days when a rubber head got old they'd say, 'Eh, no one's ever gonna use this,' and just throw it in the trash. And I said, 'Can I have it?' And they said, 'Sure.'"

Yoda and Teebo the Ewok guard Luke Skywalker's head.
Yoda and Teebo the Ewok guard Luke Skywalker's head.

Amphibian Man from The Shape of Water.
Amphibian Man from The Shape of Water.

Since then Rich has acquired hundreds of rare Hollywood artifacts, which his attraction claims is, "The World's Largest Private Collection of Screen-Used Special Effects, Props, and Costumes." Not even half of it, Rich said, is crammed into Icons of Darkness.

This bounty of mementos produces some odd neighbors: the Wicked Witch of the West, for example, is lined up next to the Gremlins, while Yoda is in a staring contest with the Terminator. When viewed through its compression, Icons of Darkness becomes not just a museum; it's a greatest hits album of fantasy-horror Hollywood, with all of the tracks playing simultaneously.

The attraction filters out the noise by taking its visitors through the exhibits on a guided tour (Also, there's too much that's too valuable to allow greasy-handed tourists to walk the halls unattended). Docents explain that the oldest relics -- about ten percent of the collection, said Rich -- are reproductions, because few of the original props were saved. "Some of the replicas are worth more than the artifacts," said Rich, who has his reproductions made by industry craftspeople. "They represent the films that laid the groundwork for all of the films that followed."

Chimp, gorilla, and orangutan masks from Planet of the Apes.
Chimp, gorilla, and orangutan masks from Planet of the Apes.

Docents also explain the characters and creatures to visitors, who are often too young to remember them. "Some of the kids who come through have never seen a black and white movie," said Rich. "There was a time when Pinhead [from Hellraiser, 1987] was so recognizable he was unbelievable; now he's beginning to fade out. Even Freddy Krueger [A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984] isn't as popular as he used to be, and Freddy was awesome."

Ripley clone-in-a-tube from Alien Resurrection.
Ripley clone-in-a-tube from Alien Resurrection.

Although Icons of Darkness celebrates the people who made some of Hollywood's most outlandish props, Rich also really likes the way that these things look. "To me, it's a collection of artwork," he said. "Some of these makeup and effects guys and painters and sculptors are the best. I mean, they do weird things, but it's still art."

Visitors can see the scissor hands of Edward Scissorhands; the arc reactor of Iron Man; the Ripley clone-in-a-tube from Alien Resurrection; the Chucky doll from Child's Play. The human-headed spider from The Thing (1982) is one-of-a-kind, and had to be completely rebuilt. "It was trashed," said Rich. "I paid more money to restore it than to acquire it."

The museum has the outfits of dozens of memorable characters, including Hellboy, Pennywise, RoboCop, Mrs. Doubtfire(!), Angus Scrimm from Phantasm, Linda Blair from The Exorcist, Michael Jackson as the Thriller zombie. "If I have a costume I'll hire the best guys in the city to make the heads, and I know all of them; I know everybody who does this kind of work," said Rich. "Everything in the museum is the exact height, weight, everything to the original actor."

Costumes are not needed for the attraction's most popular creatures: the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. "We have the original raptors," said Rich. "We have the full-size hydraulic T-rex heads, like the one that tries to take the kids out of the car. When people see that stuff, they freak out. It's unbelievable."

Hollywood museums of the future are unlikely to have a relic collection like Rich's -- "the real stuff," he said -- because CGI has taken the place of practical effects. "It's the computers that are entertaining you now," said Rich. There's nothing to save from the trash any more.

Icons of Darkness

6821 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
In the heart of Hollywood's tourist district, on the north side of Hollywood Blvd just west of its intersection with N. Highland Ave. Use Hollywood and Highland parking garage, exit up to street via the elevators or escalators. You can get your parking validated at the Chinese Theater after your tour.
Su-Th 11-8:30, F-Sa 11-9:30 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $30.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Trump Walk of Fame StarTrump Walk of Fame Star, Hollywood, CA - < 1 mi.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not HollywoodRipley's Believe It Or Not Hollywood, Hollywood, CA - < 1 mi.
Hollywood Wax MuseumHollywood Wax Museum, Hollywood, CA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Beach Bordello, Gargoyle-Encrusted, Venice, CA - 11 mi.

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