Caineville, Utah
Luna Mesa & Factory Butte
 The Dark Blood Filming Location 20 Years Later

Most people have never heard of this film. It was never released. But in 2012 it was finally finished and DVD copies were sent to about 60 people who helped fund the film's completion. I've had an interest in the film since it was abandoned in 1993. Click here for my review of the film and its history.

The weather in southern Utah was beautiful - and harsh. Blue skies, pounding sun and record heat. Well over 100 degrees every day. It was 110F when we went to the Dark Blood location in Caineville, near Torrey. I found the Luna Mesa café where River spent every night after filming. Ann, the proprietor, was expecting us since I had been in touch with her for a few months over the phone. She welcomed us in, immediately showed me where River and crew signed the wall, and showed me pictures from the set.

She spent a lot of time with River. She mentioned how he would often play guitar and sing his songs for them at Luna Mesa. Ann was on the set about 20 times. Her husband worked as a Grip on the film. She told me quite a bit about the production. She also confirmed that River had UFO sightings. As a UFO researcher myself, I had been curious about that. Apparently what River wrote on the wall ("Look up and stay in touch" ) is a reference to UFOs. The area of Caineville is known as a bit of a UFO hotspot and Luna Mesa is decked out accordingly.

Ann was very into this trip. She's a big film fan, and she loved River. She said he invited her family to Costa Rica but he passed away before that could happen. She used to work in Hollywood and told me stories of knowing John Wayne and Charlton Heston. I brought her a copy of the Dark Blood DVD and she was so excited. She had been waiting to see the film for 20 years. She put it in the player quickly and we watched Dark Blood right there at Luna Mesa while we ate dinner. The next day we went to the site.

We would have never found the filming location without Ann. We had to do off-roading in a 4X4 vehicle for 30 minutes or so to get to the location. We took an extra 4X4 just in case, with Ann's soon-to-be son-in-law Dan, and her daughter Cheralyn. If we didn't have water, and if we were the only vehicle, and if it had broken down, we would be dead. It's a very difficult location to get to and the heat was unbearable. They had to make a dirt road 20 years ago for the crew. There is no shade or civilization for miles.

To a degree, I treated the visit to Factory Butte (the name of the eroded mountain in the background) like an archaeological expedition. The Shack had been burned down at the end of the film, and I assumed that the production would have vacuumed up all traces of their time there. I thought that anything left behind would have been claimed by the elements years ago.

I expected to maybe find a rusty old nail, but there was more. Small remnants were scattered around where the Shack once stood. Ann, Cheralyn, Dan, Stella and I all retrieved fire-damaged nails, screws, bits of glass, drops of melted aluminum and wood.

Finding relics at the site, especially burned pieces of wood from the Shack was a thrill. One man's trash is another man's treasure I suppose. There is no question where this collection came from or why it was there. The pieces are fragile and have all the signs of decades of sun damage. This particular area is not frequented by anyone. I was one of the only people to visit this location since the production left 20 years ago.

The heat was starting to take its toll on our group so we packed it in and headed back to Luna Mesa. Ann and her family were wonderful people. Having a mutual interest in the film and its history there in Caineville led to a connection that I rarely experience. If there does come a time when Dark Blood is released to the public, there will likely be others interested in visiting this location and I recommend stopping at Luna Mesa and letting Ann take you on the 'tour'.
Just make sure you plan ahead.

I took a collection of screen captures from the Dark Blood film to Factory Butte, Caineville with the intention of matching up the shots 20 years later. There were differences in sun and sky, obviously. Some shots I nailed accurately. In other shots where I was pressed for time the angles are slightly off by a few feet here and there. Of course, I didn't have the advantage of widescreen lenses or the occasional crane.
Dark Blood Screen Shots
20 Years Later