Your first visit to Valdosta will leave you with a sense of “déjà view.” That’s our term for the feeling of having seen one of our attractions or businesses before, perhaps from your seat in a darkened theater or from the comfort of your couch. Several of our #VeryValdosta locations have shared the big screen with some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
The 1976 film Gator featured heartthrob Burt Reynolds as Gator McKlusky, a charming con man working with agents to bring down a corrupt politician. Earlier in the decade, Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge starred in Sixteen, the tale of a teenage girl and the love-gone-wrong story that ensues when the carnival comes to town. A careful eye will spot a young Sonny Shroyer, the Valdosta-born actor who went on to play the role of Deputy Enos Strate on the popular show The Dukes of Hazzard.
Powerhouse star Bette Davis was still going strong in 1986 when she shared the screen with Scott Glenn and Jamie Lee Curtis in As Summers Die. The film centers on the greed for land after the family patriarch dies. You know this one is headed for a court room climax.
More recent titles with a Valdosta backdrop include the murder mystery short Valentine’s Rock (2012) and the comedy Grandma’s Blessings (2013). But none have had a bigger impact than the 2009 favorite Zombieland!
Starring Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin in a cross-country journey that combines comedy and horror, the film culminates at Valdosta’s wildly popular Wild Adventures Theme Park. The scenes shot at the Park include plenty of thrill ride ways to deal with those pesky zombies, played by Valdosta residents.
The zombie-killing quartet returns this year in the sequel, Zombieland Double Tap, with more adventures across the country. While none of the scenes were filmed in Valdosta, several Georgia locations will be getting some star treatment when the film debuts October 18, 2019.
All this movie talk is just a glimpse of what you can find each year at our two wonderful film festivals. The South Georgia Film Festival, March 6-8, 2020, celebrates the creative spirit with screenings on the campus of Valdosta State University. The RKDS Film Festival is the passion project of local filmmakers Roy Kirkland and Doug Sebastian. It debuted in 2018 with a return of Burt Reynolds to Valdosta in his final official public appearance. The 2020 festival will be held in July.