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Wednesday July 18th 2018

Black Rain | 1989

Black Rain film location: Hankyu Umeda Mall, Osaka, Japan
Black Rain location: the underground shopping mall: Hankyu Umeda Mall, Osaka, Japan | Photograph: wikimedia / 663highland

The seething, industrial city of Osaka is a gift to the man who directed Blade Runner, as semi-sleazy NY cop Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) tracks a Yakuza-style mobster to Japan. Scott gets much the same feeling of a polluted Oriental urban nightmare blasted by banks of neon.

Osaka is home to several enormous underground shopping malls, and the extravagant mall with pretensions to being a cathedral, where Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia) unwisely responds to the taunting of a sinister biker, was the old Hankyu Umeda Mall, at Hankyu Umeda Station. Opened in 1929, chandeliers hung from the ceiling of the station concourse and the arcade featured stained glass. In the mid-2000s, it was demolished and repplaced with an anonymously bland shopping centre.

Black Rain film location, Ennis House, Los Feliz, Los Angeles
Black Rain location: The ‘Osaka’ house of the Japanese mob boss: the Ennis House, Glendower Avenue, Silverlake, Los Angeles

The house of the mob chief isn’t a Japanese location at all, but at Los Feliz in Los Angeles. Previously visited by Ridley Scott when it was featured as Deckard’s apartment block in Blade Runner, it’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, 2607 Glendower Avenue, a concrete Mayan temple-style home on the slopes below the Griffith Park Observatory.

It’s been a screen favourite since schlockmeister William Castle used it as The House On Haunted Hill back in 1958, appearing in Rush Hour, Karate Kid III and Day Of The Locust.

The climactic motorbike chase sequence also filmed back in California, when the money for Japanese filming ran out. It was shot in the Napa Valley region of Northern California.