The Hollywood Boulevard entrance to Icons of Darkness is difficult to miss, as a larger-than-life diorama next to the door depicts a scene of a Predator and three Xenomorphs in vicious combat. The Predator clutches the throat of a Xenomorph in one hand, holds a second at bay with the other, and stands triumphant atop a prone and screeching third. It’s a breathtaking scene, lovingly and eye-catchingly rendered in statue form.
It’s also not the coolest thing you’ll see in Icons of Darkness. It doesn’t even break the top ten.
Icons of Darkness is a privately owned and curated exhibit of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror memorabilia born from the cinematic passion and personal collection of producer/director Rich Correll. The collection runs the gamut from superhero franchises to classic 80s sci fi to horror icons to a dinosaur collection to rival the Jurassic Park rides at Universal Studios. Walking through the exhibition is the best kind of cinephile whiplash. It begins with a display of superhero costumes through the ages, from Christopher Reeves’ Superman to Toby McGuire’s Spider-Man to Christian Bale’s Batman and everything in between – almost all of them the costumes that appeared in the movies themselves (or “hero” costumes, as Correll called them as he led the tour). Turning a corner leaves you face to face with the head of the mother T-rex from Jurassic Park 2, along with a host of other dinosaurs spanning the franchise.
Those brave enough to put their backs to the dinosaurs are rewarded with a display of the titular Gremlins from Gremlins, with the original Gizmo puppet smack in the middle. Continuing on shows you Mortal Kombat’s Goro, Harry Potter’s Hogwarts acceptance letter, and a half a dozen Terminators, and that’s all before you get to the extensive Star Wars display, the Independence Day aliens, and…the horror hallway.
(The horror hallway – a minimalist yet terrifying display of horror icons from Pinhead to Freddy Kreuger to The Shining’s Jack Torrance – is not for the faint of heart. You’ve been warned.)
Much of the latter part of the exhibit is devoted to all things horror, with a good amount of love shown to the Alien and Predator franchises: hero costumes from both franchises, including the original Alien costume; concept statues and sculpts; and original props from the movies, including a facehugger in a glass case. I thought my favorite piece would be the Xenomorph based on the original H. R. Giger illustrations, but it turns out nothing beats taking a selfie with the Alien Queen.
The collection continues on with other horror icons, including Michael Jackson’s outfits and makeup from the Thriller music video, an in-depth display of makeup and costumes from classic horror movies (think Lugosi, Karloff, and Lon Chaney), and the half-transformed dog from The Thing perched atop a display case. The end of the exhibit eases back into superheroes and pop culture, with props from Iron Man, an original costume from Mrs. Doubtfire, and Doc Brown’s costume and remote from Back to the Future, preparing you to return to the light of day and the bustle of Hollywood Boulevard…where you may or may not run into ten-foot-tall skeleton puppets terrorizing onlookers as part of the exhibit. It’s a good time.
The Icons of Darkness exhibition showcases passion, mischief, a wicked sense of humor, and barely a fraction of Correll’s entire collection. That full collection is to be displayed in the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Hall of Fame, set to open in February 2022 in a designated 24,000 square foot space near the TCL Chinese Theater. The first of its kind, the Hall of Fame will display props, costumes, and memorabilia from sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films, celebrating and commemorating the genres that have produced some of the biggest cultural touchstones in cinema. Correll likened the storage space for his collection to the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark in terms of size and scope; he also mentioned, when showing off a pteranodon head from Jurassic Park 3, that he’d purchased the entire nest: mama, babies, eggs, and the nest itself. Icons of Darkness is the tip of the iceberg for the Hall of Fame coming in 2022; that said, it is an incredible walk from start to finish and is not to be missed. Just make sure you don’t scare easy.
Icons of Darkness is open daily for tours at Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles. More information and tickets are available at their website.