Movies Filmed in Solvang

When you think of the movie industry you may think of Hollywood or Burbank in Los Angeles. But Solvang, California, both independently and as part of Santa Ynez Valley, has its own history as a prime location for filming motion pictures.

Shot on Location

Is one of your favorite movies among those shot in and around Solvang? 

Behind the camera Santa Ynez

Sideways, a character study which takes place in wine country and includes wine tasting as a central plot point, was filmed throughout Solvang and features many locations easily recognizable by residents and widely visited by guests. Visit our Sideways page for a handy map of all the film locations.

Solvang has had multiple productions within the horror genre come through town. 1980’s The Unseen, starring Barbara Bach (of The Spy Who Loved Me) and Stephen Furst (of Animal House), used locations around town like the Solvang Gardens Lodge and the Bit O' Denmark Restaurant as the settings for crucial scenes in this shocker.

Percepto gimmick California

Cult Appeal

Cult film director William Castle, iconic producer of the Orson Welles noir classic The Lady from Shanghai and the horror milestone Rosemary’s Baby, used the town for different locations in his 1961 movie Homicidal. One major character’s time spent in Denmark even factored into the plot.  Where better than Solvang to capture the look of that country while filming in the United States?

Castle was famous (or is that infamous?) for using interactive promotional gimmicks, passed off to gleefully terrified audiences as groundbreaking filming techniques. These novelties had names like “Percepto,” “Emergo,” and, perhaps less creatively, “Illusion-o.”  Homicidal offered a “fright break,” marked by an onscreen timer at the start of the climax. The fright break gave patrons 45 seconds to leave the theater and get a refund if they felt too scared to stick around until the movie’s end.

The creature feature Watchers, starring Michael Ironside and Corey Haim, was based on the Dean Koontz novel of the same name. This film included a scene of the protagonists on a date within the Danish styled setting of Solvang.

In more recent years, the Quentin Tarantino throwback thriller Death Proof, was shot close by on the roads of Figueroa Mountain and against the oak backdrop of Los Padres National Forest. The region's famous hills have also served as shooting locations for Depression-era movies like the horse racing drama Seabiscuit, and the Gary Sinise directed adaptation of the classic novel Of Mice and Men.

Local Pride

Local filmmaker Derek Magyar used his hometown’s valley setting to make Flying Lessons, an independent production from 2010 starring Maggie Grace (of the Taken trilogy and the TV series Lost) and Hal Holbrook (another horror luminary in Creepshow and The Fog).

In addition to being the filming site of many thrillers, Solvang has also served as the home to actress Pat Hitchcock, the only child of legendary director, and "Master of Suspense," Alfred Hitchcock. She appeared in multiple episodes across the first six seasons of the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as well as in her father's classic films, Strangers on a Train and Psycho. Pat is pictured in the top left of this family photograph.

Hitchcock family Solvang