Welcome to Marwen: Is Avalanche Roadhouse a Real Restaurant and Bar?

‘Welcome to Marwen’ depicts the harrowing night Mark Hogancamp, an artist and photographer, is beaten up by five young men outside a bar called the Avalanche Roadhouse. After Mark gets drunk and divulges details about his personal life, specifically relating to his affinity for women’s tights and heels, the group of men targets him outside the bar’s premises. Later, as Mark is still dealing with the trauma of his injuries and memory loss, viewers get a glimpse of him working at the same bar. The protagonist befriends the bar’s owner and Carlala, a woman who works there and helps him adjust to his job. Naturally, this incites an inquiry into the origins of the Avalanche Roadhouse and whether it is an actual bar and restaurant.

The Avalanche Roadhouse is Fictional

Although the incidents relating to Mark Hogancamp’s traumatic attack are rooted in an actual bar, they did not take place in the Avalanche Roadhouse. The bar featured in the movie ‘Welcome to Marwen’ was crafted by Robert Zemeckis and Caroline Thompson while writing the script. Avalanche Roadhouse is a recreation of another bar in Kingston, New York, where Mark Hogancamp resides, called the Luny Tune Saloon. It was outside this bar where Mark was attacked by five young men who he befriended under the influence of alcohol. The photographer was meant to have met up with his friends that night, but they were already gone when he arrived.

Luny Tune Saloon is a former bar on East Chester Street in Kingston, New York. The bar has been shut down and is no longer operational. The production crew recreated the scenes for the bar in the fictional Avalanche Roadhouse for the film. As Mark tries to piece together his life from the broken fragments, his job as a helper in the Avalanche helps him with sustenance and a connection with the real world outside of his fantasies in the model village of Marwen. The real Hogancamp was severely injured in his attack, and after his recovery at the hospital, he spent most of his efforts engaging in photography and collecting dolls for Marwen.

His sustenance during that period came from disability checks, which he utilized by rationing his food every day. He ate only one meal a day to save on costs. During filming, the production team constructed the Avalanche Roadhouse using an empty building on Dewdney Trunk Road in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. The crew transformed the vacant interiors to resemble as much of the bar in upstate New York where Mark was beaten up. Larry, the owner, and Carlala, the helper at the back of the bar, are fictional characters with whom Mark interacts in the film. He also has a doll made out of Carlala’s likeness in his Marwen fantasy. To sum up, the Avalanche Roadhouse is based on the real bar where Hogancamp was brutalized; its name has been changed in the movie.

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