4 Cult Film Locations You Can Visit in New York

For decades, New York has provided film directors with one of the best film sets, thanks to its unique atmosphere and captivating locations. Just like you can learn from reading Brian Cicioni’s previous feature on must-see NYC museums in Brooklyn and Queens, New York also has a plethora of famous must-visit locations that have been featured in some of the most memorable cult films ever made. While some are successful and some not so successful, what the films mentioned in this piece have in common is that they are quirky and stimulating enough to have captured an underground fanbase and hardcore following.

So, here are four films and their locations which you can still visit in New York.

18 Avenue Station

Pete's Tavern

Hook and Ladder 8 building

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park

The French Connection (1971) – Brooklyn Elevated Train

William Friedkin’s 1971 crime thriller is about two New York City narcotics cops who are trying to intercept a large heroin shipment coming in from France. Based on Robin Moore’s 1969 non-fiction book The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics and International Conspiracy, the film is a gritty and artful masterpiece. While the film contained numerous New York City locations, The French Connection’s climactic car chase scene was filmed in Brooklyn. The chase, filmed under the elevated B (now the D) train on 86th Street, was as dangerous in real-life as it was in the film. There was no choreography involved, and it still stands as the greatest car chase scene in movie history.

Rounders (1998) – Pete’s Tavern

When it was released in September of 1998, the film grossed just under $23 million at the box office. However, it has since become a cult film classic and a must-see for poker enthusiasts. Directed by John Dahl, it’s an exploration of the sordid side of high-stakes poker in New York. One of the memorable scenes happens in Pete’s Tavern at 129 E 18th St. where Mike (Matt Damon) discusses life and destiny with Professor Abe Petrovsky (Martin Landau). Gambool explains that the film was responsible for the poker boom of the early 2000s, and practically every professional player attributes the film to their interest in poker. 

Rounders also led to the rise of online poker clubs that allow players to form clubs, much like those featured in the film. A review of PPPoker by BagoGames reveals how the company has replicated the social aspect of the game for a global online audience. The platform, much like the film is made by poker lovers for poker lovers, and Rounders’ continued popularity is attributed to the authenticity of the film’s numerous poker scenes in its nuanced emotions, language, and feel of the card game.

Ghostbusters (1984) – FDNY’s Hook and Ladder 8

Directed by Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters was conceived by Dan Ackroyd based on his and his grandfather’s fascination with spirituality and the paranormal. Ackroyd was recently hosted on LA’s KNX Radio for a discussion on the film’s 35th anniversary and talked about its cult status. Unlike many classics that were not well received at the box office, this film was a fantastic success and became the second highest-grossing film of 1984. With an original premise and a fantastic cast, Ghostbusters became a cult classic and the most successful comedy of the 1980s. Featured prominently in the film, is the Ghostbusters HQ, which in actuality is FDNY’s Hook and Ladder 8 building at 14 North Moore Street in Tribeca. You can visit today, and it’s easily accessible via the 1 train.

Check out this YouTube clip of Ghostbusters in Stockholm.

The Warriors (1979) – Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Coney Island

Based on Sol Yurick’s 1965 novel, Walter Hill’s 1979 counterculture classic is about a turf battle between New York City street gangs set in a dystopian future. As violent as it is stylish, The Warriors portrays New York City’s streets and landmarks as a massive violent playground, with vacant subway tunnels, parks, and abandoned buildings. One of the most famous locations in the film is Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, which sets up the film’s climactic end where the Warriors gang arrives at dawn for the final showdown with rival gang the Rogues and their leader, Luther. The movie initially received a very negative reception due to its gratuitous depiction of violence but has since become a cult film, spawning several spinoffs and even a comic series.

Read more about Coney Island here.

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