Louisiana Gothic jail to be Hollywood horror movie setting

Published 3:12 pm Sunday, June 10, 2018

DERIDDER, La. (AP) — Digital magic will make a century-old Gothic jail in west Louisiana the setting for a Hollywood horror movie filmed across the state in New Orleans.

Beauregard Parish Tourist Commission Director Lori Darbonne tells The American Press that the “Gothic Hanging Jail” in DeRidder will set the tone for “Eli,” starring Max Martini.

Paramount Pictures’ 1-year-old Paramount Players division, working with MTV, plans a January release for the movie about a boy being treated for a rare disease at a clinic in a haunted prison.

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DeRidder’s jail was the first item to pop up when the production team searched online for the word “gothic,” Darbonne said.

“They came out and actually saw the jail and were quite impressed,” she told KPLC-TV .

But New Orleans and DeRidder are about 200 miles (325 kilometers) and a 4-hour drive apart. Producers didn’t feel the budget would cover filming in DeRidder.

Instead, the crew plans to make a 3-D digital scan of the jail and grounds, and superimpose those images over a New Orleans site during editing, Darbonne said.

DeRidder’s jail, built in 1914 in what’s called the Collegiate Gothic style, became known as the “Hanging Jail” in the 1950s, after a song was written about the execution of two convicted murderers in 1928. It opened for tours in November 2016, after a six-year renovation.

Darbonne said the jail has boosted tourism: “On any given day tourists can be seen on our sidewalks in downtown DeRidder.”

A movie appearance should do much more, she said.

“You’ve probably watched the movie ‘The Shining’ with Jack Nicholson and you’ve seen what it’s done for the site that it was filmed on,” she said. “We’re hoping it’ll be the same for the Gothic jail.”