Come Take A Cinematic Journey Through Santa Cruz County

UPDATED May 2, 2019

Santa Cruz and its outlying area have been used as a filming location in a number of films over the years. Some well-known. Others not so much. Here are a few of our own personal favorite films that have been filmed in, or take place in or around, Santa Cruz.

Harold and Maude (1971) – Young, rich, annoying, and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets old lady Maude at a funeral and picks her up. Nominated for 2 Golden Globes.

"I haven't lived. I've died a few times."

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) – Two brats with super powers get chased up a mountain by a scheming millionaire who wants to exploit them. Spoiler: they're not witches.

"I should have known there was more than ESP to those two."

The Sting II (1983) – A team of con men led by Jackie Gleson planning a new scam to fleece moviegoers' out of their hard-erned cash for a really sub par sequel, and laughing all the way to the bank.

"This gazoonie says he wants to talk to you about that Trevor guy."

Sudden Impact (1983) – Some very bad people who did some very bad things get what they deserve thanks to Sondra Locke and Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry Callahan.

"Go ahead, make my day."

Jagged Edge (1985) – A defense attorney with questionable taste in men falls in love with her defendant, who may or may not have murdered his wife, and who may or may not murder his defense attorney.

"Did your mother ever wash your mouth out with soap?"

Creator (1985) – Peter O'Toole plays a college professor who wants to clone his old dead wife, but he needs an assistant, high tech equipment, an egg and a host. Simple.

"Wanna know something really crazy, Harry?"

The Lost Boys (1987) – Santa Cruz is crawling with Coreys and damn vampires. Directed by Joel Schumacher.

"Holy shit! It's the attack of Eddie Munster!"

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) – Aliens looking like creepy clowns with popcorn shooting guns and acid filled-pies terrorize a small town in order to feast on human blood. Deliciously bad B-movie classic.

"Killer clowns from outer space... Holy shit!"

Dangerous Minds (1995) – Ex-Marine turned school teacher (what?) Michelle Pheiffer tries to teach some inner-city school "rejects from Hell" a thing or two with candy bars and karate.

"Snitches get stitches."

Glory Daze (1995) – Five graduating college roommates at University of California, Santa Cruz ponder staying in school for another year so they can keep the party going, with Sam Rockwell, Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey in this really quite terrible Animal House wannabe.

"You are so lucky I don't know karate."

Kinsey (2004) – A biopic about the naughty sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, who published the highly controversial "Sexual Behavior and the Human Male" in 1948 and the follow-up "Sexual Behavior and the Human Female," starring Liam Neeson and Laura Linney (nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role) and John Lithgow, Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton and Tim Curry in support.

"Everybody's sin is nobody's sin, and everybody's crime is no crime at all."

Chasing Mavericks (2012) – The true story of young surfing dude Jay Moriarity, who discovers that the legendary Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, exists just miles from his Santa Cruz home, and enlists the help of local legend dude Frosty Hesson (played by Gerard Butler) to train him to survive it. Surf porn at its best.

"We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea."

Bumblebee (2018) – On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Can you guess which one? (It has a famous roller coaster.) Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug. We didn’t see it either.

"No way. Are you kidding me? Are you telling me you could’ve been a Camaro this whole time? Oh, my God!"

Us (2019) – In order to get away from their busy lives, the Wilson family takes a vacation to Santa Cruz, with the plan of spending time with their friends, the Tyler family. On a day at the beach, their young son Jason almost wanders off, causing his mother Adelaide to become protective of her family. That night, four mysterious people break into Adelaide's childhood home where they're staying. The family is shocked to find out that the intruders look like them, only with grotesque appearances. Ridiculously scary. Are you going to stay and watch until the end or are you going to Get Out!?

"Who are you people?"

So there you have it. Six Santa Cruz films that might be worth your time watching (one for sure) – a couple of which are often included as part of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's FREE Movies on the Beach series on Wednesday Nights in the summer. Check out the schedule for 2019 on our Blog.

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