Where (i.e. what locations) was Buckaroo Banzai shot?

The following list is the official Buckaroo Banzai Location List that was provided by Location Manager Mike Neale.

June 28, 1983


1. Texas Vista Test Site (Start)

El Mirage Dry Lake
Adelanto, Ca. c/o Dept. of Interior 831 Barstow Rd. Barstow, Ca.

Test Site (Conclusion)

Rabbitt Dry Lake
HWY 18 Lucerne Valley, Ca. c/o Dept. of Interior

2. Hospital

Lakeview Medical Center
11600 Eldridge Ave. Lakeview Terrace

3. Home For Criminally Insane

Brentwood V.A. Hospital
11301 Wilshire Blvd. Bld. 258 Rm.201 Brentwood

4. Hikita's Lab (1938)

Alpha Tubing
2730 E. 37th St. Vernon

5. Nightclub

Bill Brothers Bld.
440 Seaton St. L.A.

6. Police Station

Venice Jail
685 Venice Blvd. Venice

7. Hotel

515 S. Olive St. L.A.

8. Crash Site

Rocky Oaks Park
Kanan Rd/Mulholland Malibu Mountains National Parks

9. Gas Station


10. Banzai Institute (Gates)

609 E. Channel Rd.
Rustic Canyon

11. Buckaroo House


12. Banzai Institute (Interior)

UCLA Bio-Medical
900 Veteran Ave. Westwood

13. Yoyodyne

1524 Border Ave. Torrance

D.W.P. Harbor Plant
161 N. Island Ave. Wilmington

Firestone (HON IND.)
2323 E. Firestone Southgate

14. Rendezvous Point

Firestone Parking Lot (as above)

15. Highway Approach to Yoyodyne


16. President's Hospital Room

Sepulveda V.A. Hospital
16111 Plummer Sepulveda

What follows are excerpts from the World Watch One: Newsletter of Team Banzai' April 1986 which list several of the locations where Buckaroo Banzai was shot. The information following that is from Hollywood, who worked on the World Watch One Newsletter at the time it was made.

Excerpted from 'World Watch One: Newsletter of Team Banzai' April 1986:

"A tree is a tree and a rock is a rock - shoot it in Griffith Park!" So a famous studio head is said to have exclaimed when a director asked to film in a more exotic location. Griffith Park doubles for New Jersey in "TABB," which was shot on locations in the Los Angeles area and on sound stages 23 and 30 at MGM Studios.

More location sites include:

Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems - the vacant Firestone plant on I-5 between LA and Anaheim. If you're heading south (toward Disneyland) the plant is on the left, facing the freeway. a bizarre combination of medieval battlements and Assyrian bas-reliefs, it's _very_ Red Lectroid.

According to Mike Okuda, "The Yoyodyne location has since been renovated, and is now open to the public as the Citadel Outlet Mall. The walls are still the same as the old Firestone plant, but the inside has apparently been completely renovated, although I've not been there."

The following information was provided by Scott Tate : The former Firestone plant is only part of the Yoyodyne location shoots. The sooty, flooded Firestone building did indeed provide many of the interior shots, but some scenes -- most notably the electrical shock tower with which Whorfin tortures Buckaroo -- were filmed at the Department of Water and Power facility in Wilmington. DWP also served for some of the Yoyodyne exteriors. Interestingly, although the building was subsequently abandoned, it was still providing services during the film crew's visit. As the press kit notes: "One wrong move on the right lever and there would have been hell to pay."

The Banzai Institute - a house in the Santa Monica Mountains. It can also be seen in the film "To Live And Die In L.A."

Artie's Artery - a recording studio in downtown Los Angeles. Sting's video "Fortress Around Your Heart" was filmed there. According to LA BBI David "Monkeyboy" Linck (a West Coast correspondent for MTV), the Artie's Artery logo was still painted on the studio wall in July of 1985, when the video was shot.

Team Banzai March - Sepulveda Dam in the San Fernando Valley. The dam area is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers and is not open to the public. However, travelling north-west on the Ventura Freeway, the dam is clearly visible on the right as you leave the San Diego Freeway / Ventura Freeway interchange at the foot of Sepulveda Pass. Many film fans will recognize the dam from it's role as the gates of New York Maximum Security Prison in John Carpenter's film "Escape From New York."

 The following information is from an e-mail from Hollywood:

When publishing the Banzai newsletter World Watch One for Fox back in the '80s, we did a list of film locations. My copies are in a box somewhere, but someone posting here may have theirs closer at hand and could give you more accurate information. Meanwhile, from my (not always trustworthy) memory:

Tours of the studio:

Banzai was actually filmed at MGM and picked up by Fox in turnaround, so any studio sets would have been in MGM soundstages (including the insane asylum, tour bus interiors, Banzai Institute interiors, the warehouse in which the first Jet Car prototype is tested, etc.). To the best of my knowledge, there are no public tours of either lot (less'n you know someone).

New Information (4/10/99) from Nate Coffin :

During a showing of Buckaroo Banzai on the Encore! cable Movie channel, there was an intro that was shot in the asylum from the movie shown before it started... (some guy talking about the movie)

In Where (i.e. what locations) was Buckaroo Banzai shot?, there is a statement about the asylum being an MGM sound stage. But I think I can show that at least the asylum part was not a soundstage :

"From the show "On Location" on the "Encore" movie channel.

Total running time: 4 minutes

Taped in 1990 or 1991, shortly after Encore started the format of "This movie will be shown again on [blank]" after movies. This was a relatively new format at the time, so finding that out would give a more accurate date about when this aired on Encore.

[The beginning of the show was cut off, but the only thing missing is a short intro and beginning credits for the show. As a result, the name of the host is unknown.]

Shot to Host of the Show (to be known as HoS for the rest of this section) standing in the poorly painted room where Dr. Lizardo spent the asylum scenes. HoS is just finishing saying that the asylum in the show was actually an abandoned building on the VA Hospital campus in West Los Angeles, CA.

"Lizardo has his own personal electroshock therapy device, (cut to Lizardo zapping his tongue) that transports him back, in his mind, to a time as a brilliant and impatient young physicist who punches a hole through to the 8th dimension... (cut to Lizardo riding the first dimension crossing car in the old lab, then him half stuck in the wall) well almost."

"The lab of Dr. Lizardo is the Alpha Tubing plant in Vernon CA, where using equipment from the ORIGINAL Frankenstein set, they created a hodgepodge of high technology and JUNK, which is the throughline of this movie." (Emphasis in CAPS is a translation of the host's voice.)

[Cut to scene of Buckaroo in the rocket car in the bright desert sun.]

"Back in the present day our hero Buckaroo has created his own gateway into the 8th Dimension with the help of his overthruster device and a 500 mile an hour car.

[Shots of the trans-mountain trip]

[Cut back to host standing in a dry lakebed.]

And where better to test a high-speed car than Almorage Lake Bed (spelling unknown, pronounced "all-more-ahge") here on the high desert of Southern California. Actually it's a regular vehicle test site. Shooting here was delayed for several days by rain and mud, [Cut to Rocket Car between the spinning pylons] when it finally dried out, the had another unexpected delay...

[Cut to a graying man, thin; identified as Michael Neale, Location Manager]

"So we set up the block house for the high speed jet car run, had all of our chevrons painted into the dry lake bed, with a black line going off into infinity. A dust devil, which is a little tornado, came roaring down this black line, it must have been attracted to its color, raced right down the black line into the shooting company, picking up all the tempura paint and throwing it into our faces."

[Cut back to HoS standing in the Firestone Plant, nothing recognizable from the movie in the background.]

"The Lectroids from Planet Ten, that's the bad guys, had their headquarters at Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems. Which was shot here at the old Firestone plant in South (*something*) California."

[Shot of Lectroids milling about in Yoyodyne]

Once again the combination of high tech equipment and industrial junk created the disorderly order of the Lectroid existence.

[Movie clip of Perfect Tommy and (The guy with his arm in a sling) sneaking through the Yoyodyne Plant]

Guy: "What's going on, where are we?"
Tommy: "It's a bivouac man, they sleep here."

[Cut to HoS standing in front of some gates (which are recognizable as those that were used for the Banzai Institute)]

"In contrast to the Lectroid lair, the Banzai Institute is high tech and clean. [shot of Buckaroo riding a motorcycle through the gates] The Institute was in fact two locations, they used these gates in the Rustic Canyon area of LA, dressed up with false panels; [Cut to entryway of a house, lots of flat, blocky shapes make up the walls] to match the high tech look here at the Yellin house a few blocks away.

This house served as the institute both inside and out, we talked with Mrs. Yellin about what it was like to give up her house to a film crew.

[Cut to a thin, dark haired woman sitting on a plush couch, identified as Adele Yellin]

"They were here more than a few days, it was more like a week; and it was a night-mare. All of it. They were loud, they were messy, they were difficult. But I liked the movie, so I know it was worth it."

[HoS standing in front of some sunlit rocks, which look to be similar to those that were near the dry lakebed]

"Now, although this film wasn't that successful at it's theatrical debut, it has gone on to develop a cult following all on it's own. In fact more people know the film's most famous line than the movie itself. So I will leave you with that line; No matter where you go, there you are." 

Desert where they filmed the Jet Car tests

According to Buckaroo Banzai Location Manager Mike Neale, the Jet Car tests were filmed in the following locations :

El Mirage Dry Lake
Adelanto, Ca. c/o Dept. of Interior 831 Barstow Rd. Barstow, Ca.

Test Site (Conclusion)

Rabbitt Dry Lake
HWY 18 Lucerne Valley, Ca. c/o Dept. of Interior

Opening Operating Room Scene :

The opening scenes of Buckaroo and New Jersey operating on the Eskimo were shot at the Lakeview Medical Center in San Fernando Valley. Thanks to Scott Tate.

Thermopod Crash site :

The scenes where the hunters stumble across the thermopod were filmed in Rocky Oaks Park, in the Malibu Mountains. - Thanks to Scott Tate.

Professor Hikita's lab :

The set for Professor Hikita's lab was constructed inside a Los Angeles plant owned by Bethlehem Steel, so as to incorporate some of the unusual machinery. This same plant was going to be used for the Yoyodyne scenes as well, but when Bethlehem held out for more money, the crew had to move to other industrial locations, including the Firestone plant mentioned elsewhere in the FAQ. - Thanks to Scott Tate.

Lectroid Hangar :

The sets for the lectroid hangar were inside an Armco steel plant in Torrance (enhanced by matte paintings, of course). - Thanks to Scott Tate.

Banzai Institute:

Was a private residence, location unknown to me.

Artie's Artery:

Was a private sound studio; you can see it in the Sting video "Fortress Around Your Heart".

Team Banzai March Location:

You can't actually get out onto it (legally). It is the Sepulveda Basin Flood Control area. Coming into the San Fernando Valley on the 405 from the L.A. basin, it is visible ahead and slightly to your left. Burbank Blvd. will take you through it and offer a rear view of the dam area.


For the most part, shot in Griffith Park on public roads.


Quite visible from I-5 on the way to Disneyland, this former tire factory has a spectacular facade with what appear to be Assyrian bas-reliefs facing the freeway. Deserted for quite some time before the movie shoot, it was renovated shortly thereafter and turned into a factory outlet mall.

Not really a location, but...

Billy Vera and the Beaters play the L.A. area frequently. They are the band who were the inspiration for the Hong Kong Cavaliers (Billy played Pinky Carruthers). If you can get your hands on a Sunday L.A. Times Calendar section, check local listings for clubs like The Palomino in the Valley. I highly recommend catching a show if you are able.

L.A. really has a lot to recommend it, in spite of its reputation. Have a wonderful trip!

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