By J.J. Lamb,
Vail Preservation Society
Ready, Set, Action! As cameras roll inside Colossal Cave, ranchers are attacked by monstrous fish creatures falling through ‘The Barrier’ inside the Cave. They survive only to be greeted by a voice from beyond, played by Joe Maierhauser, long-time Director of Colossal Cave. The mysterious voice asks the ranchers if they want to go to the peaceful planet of Uranus that is protected by the invisible barrier. In ‘The Night of the Lepus’, giant, bloodthirsty, marauding bunnies terrorize residents and hide out in Colossal Cave. They venture out “Killing, eating as they prowl…growing larger as they eat. A nightmare born that tragic moment when Science made its great mistake.” as described in the film’s promotional materials.
Vail has been the setting for an array of movies with strange and fantastical story plots. Films made in Vail feature familiar places like the 1908 Old Vail Post Office, Colossal Cave, La Posta Quemada Ranch, Rincon School House, and even a simple set of railroad tracks were transformed into incredibly strange settings. Colossal Cave becomes a protected portal to Uranus in ‘The Barrier’, and a mysterious cavern deep under the sea in ‘The Incredible Petrified World’. Actress Audrey Hepburn finds refuge while trying to ransom her kidnapped fiancé with three stolen Faberge eggs in ‘Love Among Thieves,’ and Disney filmed the family favorite, ‘Outlaw Cats of Colossal Cave’ in 1975. Even the Sesame Street gang made their way to Vail as Big Bird followed a special treasure map to find his Great Granny’s treasure trunk hidden in Colossal Cave!
Suzanne Somers, of ‘thigh master’ fame was ‘Seduced by Evil’ in 1994 when she played a Santa Fe journalist on assignment who is pursued by a “healer” using black magic as he attempted to possess her. The pair stopped to fill up at the Old Vail Post Office that had been turned into a rural gas station for the film. The “healer” had diabolical plans for the Civilian Conservation Corp adobe at Colossal Cave. Movie magic had transformed its interior into a bedroom with a blood-red painted floor. The pair also made their way to the Rincon Valley where the c.1919 Rincon School House (still standing) became yet another sinister setting used by the “healer” in his efforts to lure Suzanne to his evil intent.
A who’s who of actors appeared in the eclectic collection of films created in Vail including: Janet Leigh, DeForest Kelley, Stuart Whitman, John Carradine, Audrey Hepburn, Suzanne Sommers, Robert Wagner, Cookie Monster, and Big Bird! J.J. Lamb, 2022
Community Connections with Vail Preservation Society
Mark your calendar and save the date! Saturday, September 10th is the 2nd Annual Prickly Pear JAMboree and Corn Hole Showdown. Join us for a full day of celebrating community, all things Prickly Pear and local heritage: starting at 8:00 a.m. with a Parade, 11:00 a.m. Door Busters Car Show, and 5:00 p.m. Block Party with live music, vendors, Kids’ Zone and more. This year we will honor Vail’s Mexican American Heritage.
1943: Incendiary Blonde 1957: The Barrier
1957: The Incredible Petrified World 1966: Hombre (Corona)
1972: The Night of the Lepus 1972: Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
1973: Trial of Billy Jack 1975: Outlaw Cats of Colossal Cave
1980: The Ghost Dance 1981: Frankenstein Island
1987: Love Among Thieves 1988: Sesame Street Goes Western
1992: Tin Cup (Corona) 1993: Hawk, You Are My Brother
1994: Seduced by Evil