If you didn't think 1988's "Return of the Living Dead Part II" was a documentary, think again. Made in the late winter-early spring of 1987, it documents the construction of the Circle J housing subdivision on film.
Interiors of character Jesse Wilson's home (played by 12-year-old Michael Kenworthy of "The Blob") were filmed in a completed house at 22731 Derby Place in the Circle J community.
Allan Trautman. Photo by Greg Crowder.
Other Santa Clarita Valley locations include a hillside in the Newhall area between Circle J and Placerita Canyon where a film-set cemetery and mausoleum were constructed, and a field near the Valencia Industrial Center (see below).
Hundreds of local youngsters and adults responded to multiple open casting calls in late 1986 and early 1987, and several were selected for both speaking parts and extra work as brain-hungry zombies.
The taller boy in this clip, wearing a red plaid shirt, is Canyon High School freshman Thor Van Lingen, who has quite a bit of screen time. The boy in the gray shirt is Jason Hogan, a sixth grader
at Santa Clarita Elementary School.
In a fleeting sequence shown at the end of this clip, Allan Trautman reprises his role as Tarman. The character first appeared in 1985's "The Return of the Living Dead." Trautman, a 6-foot-2 puppeteer
(Jim Henson Co.'s "Dinosaurs," "Muppets Tonight"), holds a bachelor's degree in physics as well as an MFA in acting from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. He is married to
Diane Trautman, a longtime Santa Clarita Planning Commissioner (2002-2016).
Diane Trautman writes (pers. comm. 2019): "I remember visiting the location shoot in the future Circle J at 11 p.m. on a very cold January night. Tarman had to fall into a pit of water after chasing the boy (stand-in due to the later hour) through a cave.
Fortunately, there was a diver in the pit to help Allan in the event that his foam latex costume weighed him down in the water."
Released nationwide on January 15, 1988, the movie cost $6.2 million to make and grossed $9.2 milliion in U.S. theaters, according to Box Office Mojo by IMDbPro (accessed 2019).