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Friday July 20th 2018

Arachnophobia | 1990

Arachnophobia filming location: Arlington Street, Cambria, California
Arachnophobia location: the ‘Canaima’ funeral home: Arlington Street, Cambria, California | Photograph: Google Maps

Spielberg-produced tongue-in-cheek spin on Jaws with spiders. The opening scene of the jungle trip to collect spider specimens was actually filmed in Venezuela, around the spectacular Parque Nacional Canaima (Canaima National Park).

The park is a 12,000-square-mile region (if you can't visualise that, it’s about the size of Belgium or Maryland) in Bolívar State, south-eastern Venezuela, bordering Brazil and Guyana.

It’s characterised by table-top mountains or mesas, called tepuis, with vertical walls and almost flat tops, each providing a unique biological environment. The tepuis were the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (filmed by Irwin Allen in 1960), where dinosaurs survive atop the the inaccessible plateaus.

Rivers plunging over these cliffs become some of the highest waterfalls in the world, including the highest of all – Angel Falls – seen as the team of scientists flies to the jungle base.

Jokily, the fictional Californian coastal town to which the body of the fatally-bitten photographer is returned is called ‘Canaima’. The charming little town is actually Cambria, which you’ll find on Hwy1 ten miles south of San Simeon towards San Luis Obispo.

The Victorian 'gingerbread' funeral home, from which the deadly spider escapes when the coffin is opened, can be seen on Arlington Street just off Cambria’s Main Street. It’s actually on the rear of the property at 755 Main Street.

The practice of new doctor-in-town Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels) is 4090 Burton Drive, Cambria (virtually unchanged) but the house he shares with his wife Molly (Harley Jane Kozak) was built specially for the film, as was the cobwebby barn alongside it.

The home of neighbour Margaret, who becomes the spider’s first victim, is now part of the Halter Ranch Vineyard, 8910 Adelaida Road in Paso Robles, about 20 miles inland from Cambria.

In the residential area south of Cambria's Main Street, the delightful home of the Kendalls, who expire in front of Wheel Of Fortune when a spider gets into their popcorn, is 1958 Richard Avenue. As ever, please don't do anything to disturb the residents of private homes.

If you're in the Cambria area, you might want to drive the few miles north up the coast to visit Hearst Castle, the fantastic estate built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, which provided the inspiration for Charles Foster Kane’s 'Xanadu’ in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (and itself went on to become a location for Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus).