Welcome to Spook Central’s special Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Celebration. Today is the second “Shot On Site” article for the month. This Ghostbusters II location, which was found by Carl Ross, is unique in that the identification was done not through anything seen in the film, but rather through personal recollection and visual reference to the building across the street.[teaserbreak]While the boys took a unplanned dip in the river of slime, Peter and Dana were rekindling their romance at Armand’s restaurant. After they got out of the drink (and out of their slime-soaked undies), they came to Armand’s to tell Peter of the discovery that the slime flowed right to Dana’s museum. The Ma?tre D’ called the cops on them, who showed up awfully quickly, and they were escorted out.
One of the hardest filming locations to identify are interiors. The main reason being that Google and Bing maps’ street view photography is useless for such purpose, so you kinda have to already *know* what the location is in order to search for photographs of its interior – and that’s assuming that it’s a place that people would have bothered to photograph inside. Since legendary ghosthead Peter Mosen was an extra in the scene (that’s the back of his head on the left in the foreground), Paul e-mailed him a few years back hoping he would remember where the restaurant actually was. His reply was: “The restaurant was in Burbank, in the Toluca Lake area, not far from WB Studios. I was lucky enough to get the extra part through Dan Aykroyd the last two weeks of shooting. I was listening to the crew about the upcoming scene when he mentioned needing someone to sit with Judy Ovitz, I chimed in ‘I’ll do it!’ and the rest is history.” So that bit of information narrowed it down from “anywhere” to “somewhere in the Toluca Lake area of Burbank, California”, but it wasn’t enough to give us the ID.
Luckily, Carl Ross saw this bit of information on the Unidentified Filming Locations page and wrote in to say: “The Ghost Buster restaurant images you have on your site are ‘Val’s’, now a Trader Joes on Riverside Blvd in Toluca Lake. I was at the shooting of the film, and used to eat at the restaurant in the film quite regularly before it went out of business.” That was a fantastic bit of information, but now we just needed to find some images to prove it. Paul forwarded Carl’s e-mail, and the Trader Joe’s store address (10130 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake, CA 91602), to me asking for my help with that task.
Looking over the location using Google Maps’ street view, it was clear that some heavy remodeling had been done to Val’s to turn it into Trader Joe’s, which meant that there would never be a perfect ID for it. What actually gave me the visual reference needed to confirm the ID was some behind the scenes video footage that ran with a segment Entertainment Tonight did on Ghostbusters II back in 1989 (alt url). Among other things, E.T. aired some exclusive footage showing Harold Ramis having the slime poured on him outside for the scene to be filmed inside Armand’s Restaurant. So to make it clear, we are identifying a location based on behind the scenes footage. Similar to last week with Parkview.
Looking across Talofa Ave., the black vents on the tan brick “Discovery Shop” building instantly reminded me of the behind the scenes footage with Harold.
Looking it over, the vents are there in both, and the more I looked at it the more things connected. The roof also matched from a building near by. This also reminded me of the big cast and crew photo shot (the actual photo that was taken appears at the end of this article) in both the E.T. footage and the Electronic Press Kit. You’ll notice that Dan, Harold, Bill, Ernie, and Sigourney are all wearing the same outfits they wear in the Armand’s scene.
Right off the bat it’s clear that the bricks look the same, as does the air vents – as illustrated by the red line. The green line shows where the cast and crew would have been standing, and where the Ghostbusters II banner was placed. However, a close up of the bricks may also be in order.
The top image is of the wall as it appears today. Below that, I did a comparison between that and one of the screen caps. Because of the camera, I chose to flip the behind the scenes photo. Looking at it, it is clear that the bricks do match up and that the Ghostbusters II banner covers over one of the vents. For more photos and information on Val’s, check out Spook Central’s Filming Locations page for this location.
Now, to provide more background information… One of the things Peter Mosen said in his e-mail was that the scene took place during “the last two weeks of shooting”. It may, very well, have been the last scene that *everyone* (save for Rick & Annie) did together, so they decided to take the “group photo” then and there. Michael P. Moran (Dana’s building superintendent in NY), of all people, sent Paul a copy of that group photo years ago. Here is a high-resolution scan of that photo.
Paul and I both figure that the production shut down Talofa Ave. between the two buildings for prep, but they may have done it for filming, too. In the script, there was originally a scene with the cops and the guys outside the restaurant after they are escorted out. Maybe they filmed that scene, and it’s one of the many that was cut.
EXT. ARMAND'S RESTAURANT - NIGHT (CONTINUOUS ACTION)The police car is parked right behind Ecto-2. Spengler stops at thepolice car and confronts the cops. SPENGLER Look, we're not drunk and we're not crazy. This is a matter of vital importance.Venkman steps in and looks at the policemen's nametags. COP What are you doing? VENKMAN I just want to get your names right for when the mayor asks us why we didn't let him know about this sooner.The Cops look at each other, uncertain about what to do. COP (relenting) Okay, Doc. You want to see the mayor, you got it. Follow us.They head for their respective vehicles.
For more information about Ghostbusters filming locations, be sure to check out the rest of Spook Central’s Shot On Site articles, Spook Central’s Filming Locations page, and Chris Stewart’s Shot On Site articles. Thanks Chris for letting me use your awesome title. Title graphic drawn by Paul Kinsella.