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On Location with Ronnie Angel: The Vanishing (1993)

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the vanishing

For my first foray into the world of filming locations I have chosen to focus on one of my all time favorite movies and one that made full use of the Seattle area in the 1993 film The Vanishing.

The Vanishing is actually a remake of a 1988 French thriller of the same name. This one stars Keifer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock as Jeff and Diane, a young couple who make a fateful stop at a gas station, only for her vanish without a trace, never to be seen again. The grief stricken man spends years putting up posters and searching for any clue as to what happened to her on that fateful day until a man named Barney (Jeff Bridges) shows up at his door claiming to be the one who kidnapped her. He agrees to show Jeff what happened to Diane, but only if he does everything he tells him and goes through exactly what she went through. It’s a tense film and the well known cast do an amazing job with the script, especially Bridges as the psychotic Barney. It’s a bit ironic that the film was filmed in Seattle, as Bridge’s Barney character shares a lot of similarities with one of Seattle’s most infamous former residents in serial killer Ted Bundy.

For the first of two locations, I chose to visit the gas station where Sandra Bullock’s character was abducted from. The station is located in the town of North Bend, to the East of Seattle on I-90. North Bend is also infamous for the setting of the cult classic TV thriller Twin Peaks. That’s a story for another day, though. The station is question is the Mt. Si Shell. It’s incredibly easy to find, just off of the freeway at the main exit. Most of the location was used in the filming, including the pop machine and coffee area where Barney and Diane meet, as well as the front counter and even the bathrooms. The owners of the store seem to relish the fact that the movie was filmed there, as there is tons of memorabilia, pictures and posters covering the walls. It’s really everything you could ask for in a filming location. The workers I spoke to seemed a bit clueless to it, but their interest grew as I explained the location. Apparently, they didn’t even realize the movie was filmed there, despit all of the things on the walls! Here are several pictures from the location:

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Mt. Si Shell Station in North Bend, Washington

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This is the area where Barney kidnapped Dianne.

 

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My car in the area where Jeff’s car was parked during the kidnapping.

 

For our second location, we head into Seattle itself. The location was a little tricky to track down at first and I got lost on the way. I was very surprised to find out exactly where it was though. The apartment building with the unique staircase and sweeping views of the Space Needle where Keifer Sutherland’s character lived is actually located in a very central location. The interiors and exteriors were both used in the film and the outer deck and stairs provided the backdrop for one epic knock down, drag out fight between Barney and Jeff (actually the fight was pretty one sided). The apartment building can be seen at the corner of 2nd and Aloha streets just blocks to the north of the Seattle center. Please keep in mind that this is an actual residence and working apartment building, so respect the privacy of the residents. I managed to get permission to take a few pictures, but still had to be in and out of there like the wind. My stay only lasted a couple of minutes, but was well worth it. Here are the pictures:

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Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my introductory article for my On Location series. Stay tuned for more as I visit more filming locations very soon. Cheers!

 

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