“Howdy partner!” The gunslinger announced as we turned up unannounced in a wild west tumbleweed town strangely somehow familiar after traveling hundreds of miles across the sun scorched desert.There had just been a torrential downpour and the ground steamed as we disembarked from our metal horse with rubber hooves and examined our surroundings.” This Sure isn’t Kansas anymore toto”,I muttered as my boots hit the sand,”then again it isnt quite America either,more Almeria Spain,mmm! I think I fancy a pepsi and some tapas might be a good idea!!!”
We had just arrived in Almeria Spain,surprising to some this was the real wild west that is portrayed in the classic movies from the 70s starring such famous stars as Clint Eastwood,Yul Brynner and many others.
Clint apparently even bought his famous Poncho locally in the area.
It was the location of such Spaghetti Western classics by Sergio Leone as “a fistfull of Dollars”,”for a few dollars more”,and “The Good,the Bad and the Ugly” and also for other films such as Conan the Barbarian and Michelangelo Antonioni film “the Passenger” starring Jack Nicholson.
My interest had been drawn to the area after seeing an hilarious Spanish black comedy film by Director Alex de la Iglesia called “800 Balas” meaning “800 Bullets”(2002),starring comedy actor Sancho Gracia,Angel de Andres Lopez and Carmen Maura.Its an hilarious film about a Stuntman and his colleagues who make a living at a Wild West town in Almeria Spain.They are making a living entertaining small groups of tourists that are deposited in their Wild west movie set town.The stuntmans son, also a stuntman, was killed in a filming accident back in the towns golden age somewhere far back in the decadent past when westerns were popular.His child grows up fascinated in the life his deceased father lived.So begins an hilarious quest as the son runs away seeking out the wild west town to learn more about his fathers percieved heroic past.When the childs powerful theme park executive mother finds out the son has run away she pursues them angrily trying to close down the park with hysterical results.
This film rekindled my interest in the Spaghetti westerns and I was totally stunned to find that the town portrayed in the film was in fact very Real and that it did indeed have a contingent of Actors making a living out of the old Wild West movies.
Its called Texas Hollywood in the area known as Tabernas Almeria.
So hi ho silva and away and here we are!!!
It was a hilarious afternoon walking around the exact same set as 800 Balas almost pinching ourselves as to how we had stumbled across the attraction.
Throughout the day they put on shows for the public and provide excursions and carriage rides around the area giving a tour and insights into its movie past.
There are pictures from its film set days and you can see quite a few famous faces portrayed treading the dusty streets in which you now find yourself.
Theres also an Indian village and a few Buffalos, by the way,dont miss the Camels apparently related to those in Lawrence of Arabia which was partially shot in the area!!
Most recently a Pepsi advert was shot here starring David Beckham and his pals and the area is frequently used by car commercials needing that authentic Wild West touch.
All in all it was quite a surreal and amusing afternoon as well as quite informative from a movie history point of view. I’ve been watching the old spaghetti westerns lately just trying to catch a glimpse of parts of the landscape.
After some refreshments at the saloon we saddled up,put in some more petrol,set up the Sat Nav and headed south across the pass and into other areas of movie interest.
The area was also the location of the film Conan The Barbarian by John Milius starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman and the nearby Las Salinas mountains featured in scenes portraying Conan in Hyboria which were in fact locations better known as the land of the spaghetti western.
Almerimar was the scene of the Wizard/Stone Fortress encounters along with La Ciudad Encantada,El Condor,Cuevas de Roque and Penon De Bernal the famous Mount Doom in the film.This was the location we headed for next in our whistle stop tour of the region.
Penon De Bernal was the mountain upon which a spectacular Temple of Doom was built and Arnold Schwarzenegger Aka Conan The Barbarian confronted his nemesis ultimately burning down the temple film set in the movie.
It is located near the town of Almeria itself.you can find more locations from the film here:
I found the Conan Completist Web site very useful in finding these locations and it is packed with great information on the area.
I am sure local tour groups provide tours of this movie history rich area and a little research would provide a great trip if you are interested in the area.
After a long day passing thorough several periods in movie history we turned our wagons back north and headed back into the sunset.
Contemplate this on the tree of woe!!”
Blog Pictures:Copyright Kerry Davies.