Sinister Shrine to Cinema's Icons of Darkness
Hollywood Gothique Says:
More than an exhibition of horror movie figures and props, Icons of Darkness functions as a sinister shrine for a pantheon of cinema’s greatest monsters, madmen, villains, and superheroes. The sheer scale of the display is overwhelming, and the presentation is arranged in a way that shows off the exhibits to wonderful effect. Guided tours provide insights and background information on the origins of the many exhibits, but hardcore fans will enjoy putting their knowledge to the test the different iterations of characters that appeared in multiple movies.
The result was essential Halloween viewing for haunt-seekers and cinephiles in 2020 – or it would have been, had the event not been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, it was resurrected for 2021, in a new location, where it immediately climbed to the top of the year’s best Halloween Museums, Galleries, and Tours. Now a year-round event, Icons of Darkness is open daily, with no fixed closing date. The new venue can only accommodate a fraction of the massive private collection; new exhibits periodically replace old ones, making return visits worthwhile.
Hollywood and Highland Mall
6801 Hollywood Boulevard
2023 Status: The engagement remains open, with no fixed closing date. Tickets are sold up to a month in advance. Because the available space is limited, exhibits are rotated in and out over time, meaning you may see something different if you go back months later. The proprietors are looking for a larger venue which can display a larger selection of Rick Correll’s massive collection.
Hours: Daily – 11am to 10pm
Tickets: $30 for adults, $15 for children, $25 for military veterans.
Icons of Darkness Articles
Discover more about the exhibition…
About the Collection
Valued in the tens of millions of dollars, Richard Correll’s private collection of props, full-size figures, and costumes includes more than 3,000 pieces, only a small percentage of which are on display at any one time. The films represented range from classic silent cinema (Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera) to more graphic horrors of the 1970s (The Exoricst) to contemporary efforts (Saw, Sinister, The Conjuring), and the monsters on display include everything under the blood red moon: traditional supernatural characters (The Mummy), slasher icons (Freddy Kruger), invaders from outer space (Aliens, Predators), comic book superheros and their villainous counterparts (The Joker, Eric Draven from The Crow), and a park-full of dinosaurs.
“We’ve created a multi-sensory experience where guests will learn, laugh, scream, shriek, and hopefully come back for more,” Correll said. “These characters represent the spirit of showbiz and evoke so many emotions, and I think we could all use a little of that nostalgia right now.”
Exhibits on display include:
- The original Xenomorph costume from Alien (1979), which features the designs of Necronomicon-artist H.R. Giger.
- The full-sized Queen Alien from Aliens (1986).
- Michael Keaton’s original Batsuit from the Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).
- Original items from Terminator 2 Judgement Day (1991) and Jurassic Park (1993).
- Hugh Jackman’s battle arena Wolverine suit from X-Men (2000).
- Work from eight-time Academy Award-winning makeup artist Rick Baker, from How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Planet of the Apes (1997), and An American Werewolf in London (1982).
- A stable of props, figures, and costumes including life casts of Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr., and Boris Karloff representing Dracula (1931), The Wolfman (1941), and Frankenstein (1931).
“My ambition is to preserve the history of the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres because I believe they make people happy, and I want to bring that magic to the public,” said Correll, who has restored many of the props in his collection. “Some of my antique items are just not made anymore, and I want to show the younger generation what characters looked like back in the day.”
Icons of Darkness is Correll’s first exhibition – much of it had never been seen by the public before – but a small fraction had been displayed at the Halloween yard display Correll puts on every October in Hancock Park, drawing thousands of trick-or-treaters.
Correll’s long-term goal is to house his collection in a “Horror Hall of Fame” type museum, perhaps in New York, but until that dream is realized, Los Angeles fright fans have a delightful opportunity to see them in person.
Icons of Darkness: False Start at The Montalbán
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Montalbán underwent major modification to transform the lower level of its interior space from theatre seating to an open floor plan, in order to accommodate the Icons of Darkness exhibition while allowing room for social distancing. Theatre seats were removed, creating an exhibition hall on the ground floor, where the exhibition was installed in September 2020. Correll and special guests were scheduled to make appearances and guide tours.
At the time Rick Correll said, “Teaming up with The Montalbán was a natural fit because we have a common goal of preserving the culture of Hollywood. It’s a family-run operation rooted in showbiz that focuses on putting on a good show that leaves a lasting impression.”
Besides the exhibition on the main floor, the immersive experience was intended to extend through all three levels of The Montalbán, utilizing the entire 18,000 square-feet of the 93-year old venue. A zombie bar was installed on the mezzanine, and there was an interactive Monster Midway on the rooftop, where guests could compete for prizes at such carnival-style games as “Zombie Brain Smash,” “Mausoleum Ring Toss,” and “Skeleball.”
Contingent on public health updates, the exhibit was scheduled to be open five days a week, with Coronavirus safety measures in place. Health precautions included temperature checks at the entrance, and masks were required inside. A limited number of tickets were sold in timed slots to manage crowd size. Social distancing was to be enforced, and guests would not be allowed to touch the exhibits.
Unfortunately, after press previews in September, the venue was unable to secure permits to open. The event was “delayed,” then quietly cancelled. A year later, the horror-themed collection found a new home at Hollywood and Highland, where it finally opened to the public on September 27, 2021.
Icons of Darkness Photo Gallery
Click on any image to open the 2021 photo gallery…
Click on any image to open the photo gallery of the cancelled 2020 presentation at the Montalban….