Herve & TheArnoldFans Checks Into The Tiki Motel!
Arnold Fan Herve Travels the World for Film Locations!

Reported By: Randy Jennings
Friday, March 27, 2009

For awhile there I was thinking that I was the only one interested in visiting famous movie locations. After all, I was obsessed enough with Terminator films to have gone to visit the Cyberdyne Building, The Tiki Motel and Big Jeff's Restaurant (also known as "Big Buns"). Nearly a year ago, I posted only two pictures from my Tiki Motel visit and teased about an eventual news story about the motel. At last it is time to bring you along on a tour of the Tiki Motel with myself and Herve Attia as your tour guides.

Who is Herve? My favorite 'then-and-now" documenter of movie set locations, Herve, has just returned from Los Angeles on a mission to cover all the best Terminator locations. You may have seen his earlier work when he flew to several exotic locations of the Conan the Barbarian film. I went to the Tiki Motel in early 2008 and interviewed the owner but the sign out in front was broken. However, Herve shows us the sign is at last back. Join both of us now as we guide you through this ultra-famous cinematic location; the site where John Connor was conceived and a dog barked at a Terminator!


The Tiki Motel, located at 7301 Santa-Fe Ave in Huntington Park, CA 90255, is still in operation but appears to have little renovation or maintenance done to it since the film was shot. This was why I loved it so much! Even though the motel was disturbingly gross when I saw it, and looks like it would be used for addicts and prostitutes, at least you get to step into a room where you feel the presence from every major Terminator star.


Kyle Sarah



Door 9, the door that leads to the famous room, was the only door cracked open. I asked to see inside and was allowed in without any supervision.





Originally I was thinking that the inside motel scenes would have been shot on a sound stage but to my surprise, I found myself standing inside the very room the stars made pipe bombs and later made love. I sat down on the bed, which may have been the original mattress by the looks of how old it was.



I stood by the door that Arnold had busted open and then fired his gun.



The walls were dirty and grim and sludge could be found in the bathroom. The toilet bowl had a bad case of brown funk inside and when I went to open the back curtain above the window (where the kitchen was in the film), the curtain rod came crashing down on me. This motel was so nasty but damn it, was this the best experience ever to absorb such Terminator energy in this room!


On my way out, I walked around the grounds and took more pictures from every angle that these scenes were shot on film.





The owner, an older Russian sounding man, was also the owner back when James Cameron and crew did their magic. He was happy to speak with me as I interviewed him outside of the office where Sarah and Kyle checked in and asked for a room with a kitchen. Later, I'll inform you of the filming secrets that I learned form the owner.


At the front of the motel was the Tiki Motel sign which was now in such bad condition that half of the plastic from the sign was broken in by a rock or bottle. I asked the owner if he knew what a gold mine he was sitting on here and asked if he had intended to give his motel a make-over to restore it. Our communication wasn't too clear but he did tell me he was going to fix the sign sometime soon.

Now I'm going to let Herve Attia take it away. Herve just got back from the Tiki Motel and shows us the new motel sign. If this owner wanted to make some money, he should have invested a little more into these cheap signs and advertised the motel "As filmed in The Terminator!"

Attia photos

Herve Attia: Hi Randy, there were no signs stating Terminator was filmed at the Tiki Motel. Well, this is a crappy motel. It was pretty much empty. Even as a big fan of the movie, I will never spend the night. This place is depressing. They replaced the sign on top of the motel and the one in the street. Click on the image below to watch my YouTube footage of my visit and check out my BLOG to read about my other Terminator visits.


I hope you enjoyed your tour. But this Tiki Motel was certainly not Herve's only site visited on his vacation. Click HERE to see his then-and-now comparisons of the Alamo Gun Shop, the Griffith Observatory and many more! In a day or two, we'll add Herve's locations to TheArnoldFans site: "On Location: In Arnold's Shoes". This special section from TAFs is made for the FANS who visit Arnold's movie locations and give us current photo comparisons.

Below are Herve's quick comments on the OTHER sites he visited. Be sure to go to his blog and to watch his YouTube video to get the full story!

The Technoir is now a jewelry store. The street at night is completely deserted. No more night club around. :D . I shot the alley by night as well. When filming I could see rats in the trash can. The Alley is closed at night. Downtown L.A is definitely not a place for tourists.

Big Jeff interior looks different. they did not let me shoot inside because of private property...blah blah blah...the manager was not friendly at all. I stole some shots before he jumped on me and asked me to turn off the camcorder.He wanted to call the cops but i told him i was a tourist from France and i did not know the laws...he let me go...the total jerk! Anyway the place has been remodeled. But you can recognize the same tiles on the kitchen walls.

Alamo gun is still a car sale store. The wood paneling inside is gone. But the entrance door is the same. No problem to shoot inside. They just don't care. :D. The funny thing is that the owner did not know his store was used in Terminator. I gave him the photos from the movie when I left. He was very happy.

I walked inside the 2nd tunnel around midnight. A lot of bump sleeping on the side walk. I'm not sure if it was safe to be in this tunnel late at night. But the light reflecting on the tiles wall was amazing. It was worth the experience. I will be using those shots for my upcoming Blade Runner project video. I rented a convertible car, I could shoot the tunnel both ways.

I reenacted the police car chase. Driving on hills street, 6th, Main Street,... In fact, i realized the entire movie was shot between 2 blocks :D. I understand why James Cameron chose downtown L.A. The place is dead at night. No traffic.

The Departement of Water parking is private. You cannot park inside. I took shots of the entrance. It looks like as any parking.

The gas station spot is located on a desolated area in littlerock, small town in Sun Valley. It takes one hour to drive there. The place is surrounded by joshua trees as you see in the movie. Nothing much to say about this spot. The gas station was probably a set. The mountains in the background are recognizable. I waited for Sarah Connor and she came...

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Randy Jennings

Dirty Herd

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