The Upper Garden District
This neighborhood is so old, verdant, and beguiling that goth queen Anne Rice moved there, but not before setting many of her novels in the hood, beginning with Interview with the Vampire. The film adaptation of that book naturally shows off some lovely UGD locales, like the old Coliseum Theater at 1233 Coliseum St, where Louis goes to see the movie Tequila Sunrise, and of course there’s a notable scene filmed in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (see above). Another literary adaptation, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, also makes use of the Garden District’s charms: ol' Ben’s house was filmed at 2707 Coliseum St, a mansion dating back to 1832, which is most likely why Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie decided to move to NOLA for a spell (though not anymore... so visitors need to quit asking where Brad and Angie live, already).
Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World
Hard Target is probably the "best worst" Jean Claude Van Damme movie in existence. Between JCVD’s epic mullet -- how do you say "business in the front, party in the rear" in Belgian French? -- Wilford Brimley as a crazy-drunk Cajun with a bow & arrow, riding a horse, and the Crescent City setting, it’s pretty glorious all around. That is, unless you realize that there are... mountains in the background during certain exterior scenes? Note to film continuity teams everywhere: South Louisiana is really, really, really flat. There is, however, one notably authentic NOLA location in this MST3K-ready flick, other than the de rigueur French Quarter: Mardi Gras World, where many of the most notable Carnival floats in the city are both crafted and stored. In this masterpiece, it’s the site of the big showdown between JCVD and villain Lance Henriksen. Explosions and face kicks galore!
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Along with the zoo, NOLA is home to a beautiful and renowned aquarium, a structure which immediately became part of the city’s architectural landscape when it opened in 1990. On film, you can find it in movies that aren’t so good, like Failure to Launch (snooze), as well as movies that are surprisingly good, such as Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. The latter might have a tedious name, but at least it’s not a tedious film. We’re treated not only to some cool New Orleans locales -- the Audubon Aquarium included -- but also to some epic Nic Cage meltdown scenes. And that’s saying a lot, given the fact that meltdown scenes are Cage’s forte.
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Scott Gold is a writer in New Orleans whose father was an extra in JFK who totally gave John Candy's character the stink-eye in the Sazerac Bar scene. Follow him (Scott, not his dad) on Twitter @scottgold.