Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Visiting the Real Silent Hill

My brother had been talking about taking a quick trip to Centralia, the real Silent Hill, so my family decided to go, too. We loaded up the car and went to spend the weekend with him.

The population of the town has dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 9 in 2007,[30] as a result of a 47-year-old mine fire burning beneath the borough.

In 1962, an exposed vein of coal ignited, possibly due to the burning of garbage at the borough landfill. Attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful; the fire is still burning and will continue to do so for the indefinite future. Adverse health effects were reported by several people due to the carbon monoxide produced.

In 1984, Congress allocated more than $42 million for relocation efforts. Most of the residents accepted buyout offers and moved. Today a handful of occupied homes remain in Centralia. Most of the buildings have been razed, and at casual glance the area now appears to be a meadow with several paved streets through it, and some areas are being filled with new-growth forest.

Route 61 had to be moved after the underground fires ruined the road. It's been taken over by teens who have re-named it Graphity Highway. The road is now host to lots of naughty drawings. If you know anything about the movie or video game, then you understand the significance of the sirens. While we were walking on the road, the sirens went off! It was too surreal because we had been talking and joking about the monsters all day. We were a half a mile or so from the entrance, so there was no running to the car.

The local cemeteries are still maintained as well as they can, but the rolling of the land has knocked down many of the stones. The town had a large population of Russians and the headstones clearly show their influence.

In researching the different elements of Silent Hill, screen writer Roger Avary was inspired when he heard of Centralia, Pennsylvania, and decided to base the film on it.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Unstoppable movie set

We have a major motion picture being filmed near here starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. It's called Unstoppable and the filming yesterday was a snore a minute.

I got sent down by the paper I write for to get a few photos and talk to people. OK. I call my mother, who is also a reporter, and off we drive. She's my partner in crime and we generally do things together.

We park blocks from the site and walk. My camera and purse each weigh a ton, so I was not in the most pleasant mood when we got there, plus it's HOT! The local police were wonderful! Thank you Rufus for the great conversation and movie memories. The movie security guard was an entirely different matter. I had the publicist's name, so I walked up and sat myself down and he comes over all puffed up to yell about my camera. I cut him off with, "I'm waiting for ..." He wasn't pleased, but stalked off, glaring back at me every couple minutes to make sure I wasn't sneaking photos. Of what? Cars sitting on the road? The scene was about half a football field away!

So I sit there and start talking to people around me. There is a group from the local high school who were promised a visit to the set. Their publicist never shows up, so those poor kids sat there all morning for nothing. A lady in a mechanical wheelchair goes up to snap a photo with her little camera and over comes Barney Fife demanding she put it away! I was really ticked by then.

A local TV station was there filming, so I go over by her and start snapping away. Over comes Barney, yanking on his belt, "Maam, I'm going to have to ask you to refraine from taking pictures til ... gets here." Not a single word to the CAMERA CREW! Hello???

They call for lunch and everyone leaves. No publicist, no nothing. All I needed was two minutes of her time and a press release. That's it! I would have loved to write a nice fluff piece about how the movie has helped the town, but it was not meant to be, so I wrote a piece slamming them. Talked to the kids and lady in wheelchair about their disappointment. I hope the movie people feel like crap, but I know it won't matter in the least to them because we aren't real in their make-believe world of money and power.

Will I go see the movie when it comes out? Not on your life.

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