Written By: Terri Pressley
Victorville is on the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert. Established in 1 895 the downtown area grew around historic Route 66 (now 7th Street). The town soon became known as a prime location for shooting westerns in the 40s and 50s but Victorville was also a memorable setting during the Hollywood heyday of space sagas. Infamous director Jack Arnold (“Creature from the Black Lagoon,” "This Island Earth,” “The Incredible Shrinking Man”) shot the opening scene of “It Came from Outer Space” (1953) here. The UFO flew over the rocks on the east side of the Narrows, near the Rainbow Bridge, and crashed in Old Town Victorville.
Leaving Victorville and driving toward the town of Apple Valley, the desert becomes more desolate and more sinister. Dead Man’s Point is the site of two famous massacres. The first was the massacre of Catholic missionaries by Cahuilla Indians and the second, a massacre of Cahuilla Indians by white settlers. The mysterious and imposing rock formations are said to be haunted by the ghosts of these massacres and I can personally tell you that there is definitely strange and mysterious aura surrounding them. It was here that Arnold staged another scene for “It Came from Outer Space” (the police barricade), as well as the fantastic optical illusion from his 1955 film “Tarantula.” The first time we see the monstrous beast (“Crawling terror 100 feet high!”), it is crawling over the rocks at Dead Man’s Point. “Tarantula” was one of the few films in the “nature runs amok” sub-genre that did not seem to place the blame for its monstrosity on nuclear experimentation. I imagine that the forbidding, desolate desert setting (not far from military test grounds) made many viewers feel that the film was a warning about the unfathomable dangers of our entering the atomic age.