Showing posts with label movie theater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movie theater. Show all posts

Saturday, January 20, 2007


WHERE: The Royal Theater11523 Santa Monica Blvd. West LA (Map)
STATUS: Active (regular screenings)

Some places are haunted by spirits that are seen many times by various witnesses over the decades. Then, there are locations that are only visited by a ghost once, and the tale of that dramatic moment is then repeated, and past along, for the years that follow.

One such occurrence happened at the Royal Theater on LA's West side. Even though this theater, previously known as the Tivoli Theater, seems to date back to the 1920's when the area (not just the street) was called Sawtelle, this ghostly incident happened in the 1990's, according to those that tell this tale.

An elderly woman, who was late meeting her elderly husband for a screening (which had already started by the time she arrived), past through the empty lobby (their prearranged meeting spot) into the darkened theater, and searched for her husband. As her eyes adjusted to the limited lighting, she found where he was seated and quietly joined him in the empty seat next to him. Though they didn't say a word to each other during the movie, they held hands through most of the film.

When the picture ended, and the auditorium's lights went on, she discovered the seat next to her (formerly occupied by her husband) was empty. She didn't see him anywhere, but assumed that he went to the restroom before the credits rolled on the screen to beat the crowds.

She waited in the lobby outside the Men's Room. Eventually, after a while, she asked an employee if he could go in and check on her husband. To her surprise, the restroom was empty. When she asked is any of the staff had seen her husband, and gave a description, she learned the truth...

Her husband had a heart attacked in the lobby and was pronounced dead by paramedics before the movie even began. Although, his body had been taken away by ambulance before his wife arrived at the theater, it seems his spirit lingered long enough so that they could watch one last movie together.

If you know of another ghost story (or another version of a story mentioned), or if you have personally experienced something strange at this theater, please leave a comment.

(to read about another haunted theater in the LA area... )

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


WHERE: The Los Angeles Theater

(615 S. Broadway, Los Angeles) Map

STATUS: Dormant (Occasional Screenings)


The Los Angeles Theater was not only the last of the great movie palaces downtown, but it was also the most expensive. No expense was spared in the decor of the Los Angeles, which included crystal chandeliers, marble, gold leaf, silk wall coverings, neon lighting, air-conditioning, walnut paneling, and fountains. Even the custom curtain used was said to be the most expensive in the world. All of this decadent wonder was done at the height of the Great Depression. The main lobby, and lounges are so opulent and large that today they are rented out as film/television/print locations to represent places of wealth, and double for the interiors of banks, mansions, or palaces. Despite all this grandeur (or because of the costs) the theater went belly-up in less than a year. It eventually reopened and did well during the war years, but business dwindled, and by the 1970's the crown jewel of downtown's "corridor of fantasy" became a the world's only 2200 seat porno theater.

Today, the theater is closed to the public. Occasionally, screenings and events are held there so people can see what it is like to be surrounded by such decaying opulence. A few lucky visitors may even meet the (decaying and opulent) former patron in a tuxedo, who lingers near the stairs to the lounge. Witnesses claim that the man stops at a mirror to adjust his tie before disappearing. People have also seen him while looking in the mirror approaching them from behind. Then, on the other end of the ecto-economical scale, the blue-collar ghost of a former projectionist has been spotted over the years in the projection booth. Aside from those two spirits, disembodied voices, laughter, and whispers has been heard throughout the downstairs lounges, dressing rooms, closets, and children's area. Perhaps, all these ghosts are getting reading for a show that will never again start.

If you know of another ghost story (or another version of a story mentioned), or if you have personally experienced something strange at this theater, please leave a comment.

(to read about another haunted theater in the L.A. area...)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


WHERE: The Tower Theater
(802 S. Broadway, Los Angeles) Map
STATUS: Dormant (occasional rock concerts)


The French Renaissance inspired Tower Theater has the distinction of being the oldest "movie theater" in Los Angeles (since October 12,1927). That is to say, the oldest theater that was specifically built as a cinema, as opposed to a live theater that was converted to show movies. It also has the distinction of being the first theater in Los Angeles to screen "The Jazz Singer," the first "talkie" (motion picture with recorded synchronized sound) Its said that during that movies' run, the theater was filled with depressed actors, who realized that this film marked the end of their careers (either because of accents, or their now obsolete acting style).

However, despite the "sadness" that still permeates that room, the ghostly actress (in a white dress) said to haunt this building is thought to have been a stage actress (who performed floor shows between screenings) and not one from the silver screen, because her sightings are generally around the stage and basement "dressing rooms."

These "live shows" apparently were not very common at this location, and the stage and backstage were not built to accommodate them. So, this tale seems unlikely. It is also believed she was killed in a fire that occurred in the basement even though a fire at this location has never been documented (which is not to say it didn't happen). That said, there was a "legitimate" theater ("The Garrick") at this location that was torn down to build the Tower, so perhaps this female phantom is connected to that building and predates the Tower.

Interestingly, a former usherette was murdered (shot twice in the head) in 1929 after she finished her shift at the Tower. So then again, perhaps she is the girlie ghost that has been seen here. Maybe, she is forever stuck doing her rounds one last time before leaving for the night.

Given this theater's "movie" history, it is not surprising that the other commonly seen ghost is that of a male projectionist seen in the projection booth. In addition, a location scout who visited the theater claims that a "hand" grabbed him while he was trying to ascend the stairs from the restrooms to the lobby with such force, it pulled him backward.

So, if you ever have the chance to see a live show at this creepy venue, make sure that the person brushing up against you is actually there.

If you know of another ghost story (or another version of a story mentioned), or if you have personally experienced something strange at this theater, please leave a comment.

(to read about another haunted theater in the L.A. area...)

Saturday, January 6, 2007


WHERE: The Alex Theater
216 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale (map)
STATUS: Active (as a legitimate theater, occasional screenings)


Built in 1925, as a vaudeville house with occasional film screening, this Egyptian/Greek themed theater, after a long life as a movie palace, has changed back into a venue for live theater with occasional film screenings. Likewise the two most commonly told ghost stories (and ghosts that share this space) also reflect that strange dichotomy, where the performing arts and the projected arts share the same stage.

Representing the "live" theater end of the spectrum, an almost archetypal "Woman in White" has been seen in the backstage dressing rooms and basement area. Though, it is often reported that she is wearing a wedding dress (sometimes tattered), and she is thought to be a bride, it is just as likely (given that she haunts the dressing rooms) that she once played a bride on the Alex's stage, or wore a similar costume.

Representing the cinema era of this stage, when shadows danced on the silver screen, is a pair of ghosts (a man and a woman) seen in the seats (from a long ago film audience), noisily chatting with each other (sometimes arguing) in loud, but hushed, tones. When a put-upon (living) patron finally decides to speak up, and tell them to be quiet, the phantom figures disappear. Sometimes the ghostly male becomes confrontational before he vanishes. So, if you happen to be at one of the Alex's many great programs, you might want to think twice before shhhhing that obnoxious couple in front of you.

If you know of another ghost story (or another version of a story mentioned), or if you have personally experienced something strange at this theater, please leave a comment.

(to read about another haunted theater in the L.A. area...)

Friday, January 5, 2007


WHERE: Avco Westwood
10840 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

STATUS: Active Theater

The Ghost(s):

They say that the three most important factors in determining the value of real estate are, in no particular order, 1.) location, 2.) location, and 3.) location. Not so coincidentally, these same three factors might also be said to be important when figuring out what causes a certain building to be haunted. How else can one explain the numerous ghost stories that are connected to the AMC Avco Cinema? All the typical ecto-explanations seem to not apply to this unique establishment. There is nothing particularly spooky about the sleek exterior design of this modern theater. The building is relatively not very old.

Additionally, there does not seem to be any dark or tragic history connected to this business. This cinema simply opened in 1972 as a three theater complex (two smaller screens complementing one large screen) as part of the Avco Center which included the office building next door. It was the first movie theater in Los Angeles to have a THX (multiple-speaker) sound system installed, which was a great novelty at the time. Although, attempts had been made in the past to create "surround sound" (like the 1941 Fanta-Sound system), it wasn't until THX (heard here first) that audiences started to demand better sound quality in other theaters. As you can see, these are not the kind of notes that make for the beginnings of a good ghost story.

Yet, the tales of harmless spirits residing in this cinema continue. So, is the location (or placement) of this state of the art theater the key to understanding its ghostly lore? This seemingly innocent building does sit on one of the more surreal pieces of real estate in Westwood, sandwiched between two more typically spirit-related businesses. It has a church (where funerals are held) on one side (to the East) and a cemetery directly behind it, on its South side. It is also worth mentioning that this adjacent grave yard, which is only few feet away from the movie screens, is the final resting place of Heather O'Rourke, the blond-haired ("they're heeerree!") girl from the "Poltergeist" movies, and some say the victim of the "Poltergeist Curse." Richard Conti is also buried there with a grave that reads "Richard Conti, 1900- ?" Additionally, this cemetery has the tomb of film-icon, Marilyn Monroe, who is said to haunt these neighboring grounds. Could the proximity of this theater to all of that death be the reason ghosts have been seen inside its walls?

Employees (who wish to remain anonymous) claim that theater #4, which was originally the balcony to the large theater, is where most of the paranormal activity occurs. In addition to the uncomfortable feeling that you are being watched when you enter this room, cleaning crews claim to have witnessed phantom people walking along the aisles and seats. There is also a mysterious force that occasionally causes the curtains covering that screen to inexplicably unfurl with a rolling wave-like motion as if being blown by a strong wind that just isn't there.

Although, theater #4 seems to be the real hot spot (or more likely the "cold spot") for most the super-natural doings, there is one other apparition residing on these premises. Eerily, "she" is also associated with the upper level of this building. Some say a little girl has been seen coming slowly down the stairway in the lobby (near the box office on Whilshire Blvd.) only to vanish as she reaches the bottom step. Is there a reason the ghosts here seem to have issues with the ground floor?

Unfortunately, the identity of these cinephile spirits, as well as any reasons they have for attaching themselves to this theater is, as of yet, unknown. Did they (in life) have a deep connection to this contemporary cinema, or are they (like the living) strolling in off of the street (or neighboring properties) to check out the latest films? Which brings us back to our original question, is this theater's location the answer? Is it just simply a conveniently placed source of entertainment for all those restless spirits next door? Given the high number of people from the entertainment industry buried a few feet away, this seems to be the most likely (and only) explanation as to why so many mysterious manifestations. In the end, it simply boils down to location, location, and looooooooocation!

If you know of another ghost story (or another version of a story mentioned), or if you have personally experienced something strange at this theater, please leave a comment.

(to read about another haunted theater in the L.A. area...)

Thursday, January 4, 2007


WHERE: The Warner Grand Theater
(478 W 6th St., San Pedro, CA ) map

STATUS: Dormant (occasional screenings)


In the days before pesky anti-trust laws prevented studios from owning the theaters that showed their movies, Warner Brothers (specifically a very hands-on Jack Warner) commissioned a handful of impressive movie theaters in the greater Los Angeles Area. Not only were these buildings beautiful pieces of architecture, but they also represented the cutting edge of technology. The Warner Theaters were the first theaters to be outfitted with special sound equipment to exhibit "talking pictures," which showcased their own studio's "vitaphone" technology. Sadly, the Warner Grand (built in 1931) is the only one of the Warner theaters that still shows movies on a regular basis. The others have either been torn down, altered, or abandoned.

Although the term "movie palace" has come to describe the luxurious romanticised cinemas of that era, this particular "palace" was actually intended to be a "castle" (or "The Castle to Your Dreams" as Jack Warner called it). The castle analogy almost makes more sense given the celluloid treasures found inside these walls, as well as the Hollywood royalty connected to these giant structures that like real castles are mostly in ruins today. And, just as every castle has a resident ghost, so too does the Warner Grand.

A (seemingly male) figure has often been seen sitting in the back row of the theater in the darkness as a movie plays. For some unknown reason, it is thought that this apparition is the spirit of a former projectionist. Why a projection would haunt the seats and not the projection booth is a mystery. Perhaps, in death, he finally gets to relax and enjoy the movies without the clatter of the projectors. Or maybe, it is the ghost of a another man that spent as much time in the projection booth making sure everything worked properly, as he did in the audience enjoying the movies. Could it be that this ghost is actually Jack Warner? Does this "king" watch over his castle from the after-life? Come and find out. If you Dare.

If you know of another ghost story (or another version of a story mentioned), or if you have personally experienced something strange at this theater, please leave a comment.

(to read about another haunted theater in the L.A. area...)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


WHERE: The Silent Movie Theater
(611 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles) map

STATUS: Active (regular screenings)


In 1942, this art-deco theater opened its doors, and became the first (and only) venue dedicated solely to the preservation and presentation of "silent" films. For many decades, this was the only place in the world where one could see many of these forgotten relics on the big screen with live musical accompaniment as they were originally meant to be seen. Thus, this little building became a destination for true film buffs. However, among horror movies fans, the Silent Movie Theater is famous for another reason. It is known as the place that inspired one of the great moments of cinema history. Movie makers have tried to create truly interactive experiences to thrill their audiences, going back to 1909, when men were employed to rock the theater’s seats to correspond with the projected images aboard trains. Fifty years later, William Castle, took that idea one step further in THE TINGLER and famously wired theater seats to shock the audience during its climactic scene that takes place in a theater based on Los Angeles’s quirky Silent Movie Theater.

Today, patrons can experience a whole new level of interactivity when entering the door of this historic venue for silent films. The lobby is said to be haunted. A crimson-red blood stain has been known to appear and disappear in the approximate spot where a former owner, Laurence Austin, was gunned down by a hired hit man. Mr. Austin's ghost has also been seen (after hours) loitering in the lobby by employees over the years. It is also believed that the projection booth is also haunted by the ghost of the former projectionist (Austin’s lover) who contracted the killing. Although, its quite possible that this second ghost is John Hampton (the original owner), since he too has been seen roaming the second floor, where he once lived (not unlike the characters in the "Tingler"). Regardless, the whole scandalous affair between Austin and the former projectionist has forever psychically scared this theater. So,... are the tingling shivers one feels down one’s spine while seated in this eerie theater real or just mechanized movie magic? Go there and find out for yourself.

If you know of another ghost story (or another version of a story mentioned), or if you have personally experienced something strange at this theater, please leave a comment.

(to read about another haunted theater in the L.A. area...)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


WHERE: The New Beverly Cinema
(7165 West Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles) Map

: Active (regular screenings)


Despite its size and simple decor, this little theater has had a life of ups and downs more dramatic than most of the movies that have graced its screen. The New Beverly Cinema started as a night club and vaudeville theater with mob ties. It then graduated from this low-brow entertainment into L.A.'s first Art House movie theater that was so smart and sophisticated, it set the template for all of the art houses and revival theaters to follow decades later in this city. From there, it shifted away from it roots into just foreign fare, which lead it down a path of increasingly more risque films. Eventually, it hit rock bottom and became a local porno palace, until it was pulled out of the gutter and transformed into the local gem it is today.

However, having a spectacular life isn't enough for this cinema. It also apparently dabbles in the after-life. It seems this theater has two separate ghosts. Both of whom can be seen inside the theater, itself. From the seats, looking up through the little windows against the back wall, a phantom projectionist is seen walking back and forth, apparently busy completing some long forgotten task. The other apparition involves an elderly patron sleeping (or possibly dead) seated with his eyes closed and head tilted back. Although this is not an uncommon sight at the end of night for this theater, this patron (unlike the other elderly sleepers) does not stir when told to wake up and go home. Not only is there no reaction, but then he seems to vanish into thin air. It is impossible to know if these two spirits are connected to each other or even from the same time period or incarnation of the theater. But, just as this little theater keeps chugging along so do these two ghosts. One forever showing movies, and one forever not watching the movies shown. It seems that even in the after-life, everyone is a critic.

If you know of another ghost story (or another version of a story mentioned), or if you have personally experienced something strange at this theater, please leave a comment.

(to read about another haunted theater in the L.A. area...)