Scary Movies, Made in Zagreb

Scary Movies, Made in Zagreb

Even if you’ve never been to Zagreb, you might be more familiar with the city than you’re aware of. You might have seen it in a movie! For example, have you ever seen Sophie’s Choice? It’s probably the most famous movie filmed in Zagreb. Meryl Streep even won Oscar for her leading role.

I’m sure the image of Jackie Chan getting killed in Zagreb seems a bit absurd. But that’s what almost happened back in the ’80’s when he was severely hurt during the filming of his classic Armour of God.

It must have been fun for Richard Gere to film The Hunting Party, and to have the liberty to walk around Zagreb without even being recognized. It was only several years ago, but things change so rapidly… If he’d came today, I’m sure that the entire paparazzi army would hunt him all over the city.

One of the most famous makeovers of Zagreb as a film stage dates back to early ’70s, when Fiddler on the Roof was being filmed. They managed to cover two city squares with artificial snow just to make Zagreb look a bit more like Kyev.

Zagreb-based film production company Jadran Film has been filming foreign movies for decades, so please don’t make me name each and every one out of 150 international films made in Croatia. I’m bringing you just a small part. A few weeks ago, while I was preparing for the Halloween walking tour, I tried to find some facts about the scary movies filmed in Zagreb. 

There were only several horror movies I could track down, which is a bit strange if you take into account the neo-Gothic flavour of the city. Unfortunately, the “horror” part can usually be attributed not only to the genre, but to the poor quality of the movie as well. Anyway, since the locals (yours truly included) are always entertained to see their home city as a movie stage, let’s check out the most horrawsome movies made in Zagreb. 

Transylvania 6-5000

If Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley, Geena Davis and Michael Richards (read: Cosmo Kramer) won’t motivate you to see this 1985 movie, maybe the fact that a beautiful little town of Samobor (near Zagreb) acts as Transylvania will. Some Zagreb interiors were used as a filming location, too. I don’t really get why this film has always been omitted from best-or-worst-movies lists and countdowns… I mean, the cast is great, the movie includes every single scary creature from frankenstein, vampire, werewolf to a Yugo car! What else could you possibly need from a movie? I think it’s about time for you to visit your nearest video-store (because it’s so last century, I don’t think you’ll find it digitized).

Bloodrayne: The Third Reich

Maybe the rest of the world doesn’t think alike, but Zagrebers are sentenced to love seeing the final chapter of Bloodrayne. We just spend the entire movie trying to figure out the filming locations. Some of the most recognizable Zagreb sights are part of the scenery, like the Upper Town, the Mirogoj cemetery, National State Archives, even the abandoned Brestovac sanatorium.

1. Tales of Mystery and Immagination

This one’s holding the number one position. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen it yet:) But you have to admit, the fact it was almost never screened brings a touch of true mystery along. It’s a 13 episodes TV series based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories and hosted by one-and-only Lord of Darkness (or make it eight-and-only, for that’s how many times he played Dracula) – Sir Christopher Lee. Some of it was filmed in the Gvozdanovic palace in Visoka Street in Zagreb.

Before you start frantically googling for this series, you should probably know that it’s the so-called Christopher Lee’s Lost Series, and even the famous actor once stated:

“God, I hope they don’t show too much of this.”

0. Zagreb School of Animation
It would be unfair to end this post without sharing a few words about the most artistic scary films originating from Zagreb, or more precisely, from the world-known Zagreb School of Animation. Since we’re still in the Poe-mood, I should first mention his Mask of the Red Death, a cartoon by Pavao Stalter and Vladimir Jutrisa.

The creepiest Zagreb cartoons must be the Kafkaesque works by Aleksandar Marks – The Spider and The Fly… a perfect reminder that residents of Zagreb sometimes have a touch of twisted geniality.

Time to grab your popcorn and enjoy the horror of Zagreb!