Friday, September 20, 2013

Return To Piedras Blancas

As I kid, I carried Ed Naha's HORRORS: FROM SCREEN TO SCREAM around with me like it was 'The Bible'. In a sense, it was. Although I also had Denis Giford's HORROR MOVIES and Alan Frank's books in non-stop rotation, Naha's irreverent spirit and occasional focus on obscurities always rubbed me the very right way.  Childhood often didn't.

This image, from THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS ('59), always fascinated me: A Monster and his Severed Head. Horrible and sad at the same time. A little like Pedras Blancas itself.

This week, while shooting the Californian coastline for a UK doco, we drove through Piedras Blancas. Of course, it held no significance for anybody else, but I was determined to find a reason to rest there.

Fortunately, the weary producers agreed to stop for a bite, giving  me a half hour to snap off a few photos of the old lighthouse smothered in fog. It was a case of Going-Going-Gone because, within five minutes, the structure was obscured in ocean soup.

I thought long and hard of The Monster as the fog enveloped the lighthouse, and felt sad about his demise more than fifty years ago. It was a solemn experience.

The prevailing mood only intensified when I wandered down the road and discovered this long-abandoned motel. Broken on a craggy clifftop overlooking a scrappy beach...

... it felt like an echo of The Monster's final, gutteral moan.

The old motel smelt of decades-old urine and rot. The wind howled through its boards, and little light penetrated its musky dark. Nature was busy tearing it down. It was a deliciously creepy place. A cemetery of abandoned hopes.

After I'd explored the motel,  I noticed a chunk of gnarled wood sitting like an ocean sentinel out back.
As you can see, from the rear it looked to me like a defeated old man surrendering himself to the wind and sea.

Or perhaps he was waiting for The Monster of Piedras Blancas to return?

I hope so.

And I hope it does.

Pedras Blancas is too sad without him.


  1. It looks so haunting and with the context of the film - it sounds like it would have been a great personal little moment. Thank you for sharing the pics and story.

  2. This was my bible as a kid too! Along with our local Friday and Saturday horror show hosts, Famous Monsters, and Naha's book (along with Gifford's) introduced me to a world of monsters, both classic and new. I still own my 2 store bought copies along with one snagged from Ebay. The original copy has long lost its covers and all my childhood annotations are there (I put a star next to all the movies in the book I had seen).

  3. Great story, great pics, very great post !