Sanctuary Adventist Church – Hi Vista, California - Atlas Obscura

Sanctuary Adventist Church

Hi Vista, California

The "Kill Bill Church" was transformed into a place of worship after a long Hollywood history. 


In the Antelope Valley, on the side of a lonely two-lane road that could easily pass for a post-apocalyptic landscape, there is what appears to be an abandoned, Spanish-style chapel. But while this evocative chapel is, in fact, a church today, it was the building’s numerous Hollywood appearances that made it that way. 

According to the current caretaker, the structure was built in 1934 in the unincorporated community of Hi Vista, in northeastern Los Angeles County. The Hi Vista Community Hall, as the location was originally known, did not initially look like a place of worship, but over time it took on a more devout look to fit the needs of various productions, a lot of which were similarly themed. And today, in spite of—or more likely because of—its portrayals on-screen, the chapel is currently the home of the Sanctuary Adventist Church.

The original meeting hall began its religious conversion with the addition of a small bell tower during its makeover as a remote Catholic parish for the 1981 crime thriller, True Confessions. Several scenes that bookend the beginning and end of the movie were filmed at the chapel with Robert DeNiro and Robert Duvall. And thus the location’s Hollywood career began.

Not long after its first film appearance, the 1985 video for the Talking Heads song, Road to Nowhere was shot here. In the video, the original community hall sign can be seen, with the structure retaining the external cosmetic improvements leftover from the film. The chapel then had a starring role in the 1999 Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner, Desert Heat. The next year the locale stood in for Arizona in the 2000 film, Nurse Betty, starring Renee Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, and Crispin Glover. In 2002, also presumably set in Arizona, the location made a brief appearance as a Navajo souvenir stand in the Britney Spears movie, Crossroads.

But undoubtedly the site’s biggest claim to fame came after it appeared in the 2003 and 2004 Quentin Tarantino films, Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2. In those films, the location stands in for the Two Pines Wedding Chapel of El Paso, Texas, during the unsettling opening sequence. The awning and stairs and deck were built especially for that production, to add more Southwestern flair. The drop ceiling was also removed to reveal the wooden rafters seen in both films.

Know Before You Go

Signs that read, “Film Here,” are propped up in the windows juxtaposed with “No Trespassing” signs on a small, barbed wire fence but visitors are welcome. Keep in mind that services may be in session on Saturdays (the Sanctuary Adventist Church has Saturdays services), and please be respectful.

If the chapel is open, admission is free but donations are appreciated. Locally sourced honey may be available for purchase. A guest book is provided and visitors will be encouraged to sign in.

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