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Thursday April 25th 2024

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance | 2011

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance film location: Cappadocia, Turkey
Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance film location: the safe retreat: Cappadocia, Turkey | Photograph: wikimedia / Noumenon

Ghost Rider is back and, in the hands of the Crank team, grungier, crispier and crunchier.

Having left behind the plains of ‘Texas’, and seemingly his childhood sweetheart Roxanne, to lose himself in Eastern Europe, one-time stunt rider Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is given the chance to reclaim his soul in a deal that involves saving a young boy, Danny (Fergus Riordan), from becoming the next incarnation of the devil, now known as Roarke (Ciarán Hinds).

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance film location: Hunyad Castle, Hunedoara, Romania
Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance film location: Moreau warns the monks that Danny is not safe: Corvin Castle, Hunedoara, Romania | Photograph: wikimedia / Alex.bikfalvi

Filmed at Bucharest’s Castel Film Studios, most of the film’s locations can be found in Romania. The monastery-cum-fortress to which boozy French priest Moreau (Idris Elba) arrives to warn the monks that the young Danny is in danger, is Corvin Castle, also called Hunyad Castle, Strada Castelului 1-3, Hunedoara, in central Romania about 180 miles northwest of Bucharest (much closer to Timisoara).

Danny and his mother, Nadya (Violante Placido), escape but it’s curtains for the monks as Roarke’s mercenary Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth) and his men descend on the monastery.

The winding mountain road leading up to the monastery is the Transfagarasan, or DN7C, the second-highest paved road in the country, which runs through the Southern Carpathian Mountains between Sibiu and Pitesti. Built as a strategic military route, the road is known – as I suspect many grandiose projects in Romania are – as Ceausescu's Folly.

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance film location: Piata Mica, Sibiu, Romania
Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance film location: Danny and his mum fleece the businessman: Piata Mica, Sibiu, Romania | Photograph: wikimedia / sailko

Negotiating the dangerous curves, Danny and Nadya make it to the town of Sibiu, where they survive by petty robbery, scamming a businessman at Sigma Restaurant on the town’s Piata Mica (Small Square).

Moreau seeks out the help of Blaze in the deserted steelworks complex in Hunedoara he calls home, and offers him the deal to be rid of the Ghost Rider if he’ll rescue and protect Danny.

Accepting the offer, Blaze tracks Carrigan and Danny to a huge quarry, which is Cariera Miniera Rosia, near Rovinari, one of the largest in the country and – happily – equipped with a gigantic excavator that bursts into incendiary life at the Rider’s touch.

Carrigan is killed in the explosive confrontation, but Roarke still has use for him and he’s revived in the form of Blackout, gifted with a new hairdo and the power of decay over anything, except Twinkie bars.

The ‘holy place’ in which Moreau insists Danny will be safe in the charge of a strange sect, led by facially-tattooed Methodius (Christopher Lambert) is the strange landscape of Cappadocia in Turkey. The rock-carved village itself is the Zelve Valley, about 6 miles from Göreme on the Avanos road (though, needless to say, the imposing interior with its wine cellar, was built back in the studio in Bucharest).

Cappadocia, which means ‘land of beautiful horses’ in the Persian language, is a region of the central Anatolian plateau within a volcanic landscape eroded into striking ridges, valleys and pinnacles, often referred to as ‘fairy chimneys’ or hoodoos.

It’s been the hub of many civilisations, providing a shelter for Christians who fled from the Roman Empire during the Hittite period, when houses, churches and monasteries were carved from the soft volcanic rock. From 300 to 1200AD, Göreme became an important monastic centre.

Being a popular tourist destination, you can take a direct flight from any of the major airports in Turkey to either Kayseri Airport or Nevsehir Cappadocia Airport, both of which are quite close to the region southwest of the major city Kayseri, which also has a railway service to Ankara and Istanbul.

Its extraordinary landscape has been seen surprisingly rarely on-screen. It was featured in the 1983 Italian/French/Turkish co-production Yor, The Hunter From The Future and, though some over-enthusiastic tour guides may claim that Star Wars was filmed here, they’re probably thinking of the not-quite-so-famous 1989 Mark Hamill sci-fi Slipstream.

Pier Paolo Pasolini's Medea, with Maria Callas, was filmed in Göreme Open Air Museum's early Christian churches.

The Zelve Open-Air Museum, which once housed one of the largest communities in the region, is a cave town honeycombed with dwellings and chambers.

If you’re planning to visit Cappadocia, you might want to follow the stars, who stayed at the Argos In Cappadocia.

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance film location: Roman Theatre, Pamukkale, Turkey
Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance film location: Roarke begins the ritual: Roman Theatre, Pamukkale, Turkey | Photograph: wikimedia / Omerulusoy

Remaining in Turkey, the ancient amphitheatre, in which dignitaries gather to witness the ceremony as Roarke takes over Danny’s body, is the Roman theatre at Pamukkale, on the site of the ancient Greek city of Hierapolis, which was founded as a thermal spa in classical Phrygia, southwestern Anatolia. Its ruins are now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The theatre, capable of seating more than 12,000 spectators, was built in the second century AD under the Roman Emperor Hadrian. An earthquake in the 7th century caused the collapse of the entire building, and the abandonment of the city. The site was excavated in the 19th Century and, though it’s relatively unassuming from the outside, the interior houses one of Anatolia's best-preserved collection of Greco-Roman theatre decorations. The theatre itself has been extensively renovated, and nearby is the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum.