Dexter Filming Locations: The Villain's Lair


The location: The Villain's Lair.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. The apartment where the "Ice Truck Killer" lives and murders his victims.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. In Miami, Florida.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 12 (the Season 1 finale), "Born Free".

    When the cops finally locate the apartment of the "Ice Truck Killer", they also find a special room he has built in the back, a walk-in freezer where he has been murdering his victims and draining their blood (by hanging them upside down).

    He has left a clue there for Dexter - a record of the song "Born Free", and another Barbie doll, this one wearing an apron with the message "Home Sweet Home".

    (Later, Dexter traps him in the same walk-in refrigerator he had used to kill his victims.)

    And in the last moments of Episode 12, we see Dexter & Debra walk across the street, from the beach, and as they approach the villain's lair,
    Dexter fantasizes about the public knowing and appreciating what he does.

    We are treated to the (imagined) sight of a ticker-tape celebration, complete with admirers telling Dexter how great a job he's doing "taking out the garbage".

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A brown, triangular apartment house/condo - but it's not in Miami.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. Just a few steps away from the beach, at 35 54th Place, in Long Beach, CA.

    That's on the west side of 54th Place, just north of E. Ocean Blvd, where the Long Beach peninsula joins the mainland - about a mile southeast of the Belmont Pier.

    The building faces "Bayshore Beach", a narrow, sheltered beach which is right across the street (to the east),

    That beach (with a great view across the bay of Naples Island), was the site of another "Dexter" location (from the previous episode), the beach cafe.

    In fact, if you look closely at the scene where Dexter is walking to the building, you can catch a quick glimpse of the "tiki hut" in the distance.

    Here's a photo I shot of the entire building in early 2008:

    However, you may not immediately recognize the apartment house when you see it.

    Here is a screenshot from the show (on top) and my photo of the same apartment house (below it).

Compare the two, and you can see the changes they made for the shoot.

What appears to be the main front door on the show was actually a false brick front,
covering up the actual the garage entrance. The producers also concealed a narrow
door to the left of the garage entrance with a potted plant, and added false window
panes to the lower side windows, concealing the existing vertical blinds.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. It was tricky. I might never have found this one, but I ran across a post (somewhere on the web) in which someone from Long Beach mentioned they had seen the "Dexter" crew setting up in the beach parking lot nearby. I knew that meant, of course, that they would be filming in that area.

    A check of the background shots in that final fantasy scene revealed the Bay Shore beach, which is right across from that parking lot, as well as a shot of the villain's lair. By looking at Live Local aerial photos and lining up the items in the background (such as the low wall around the beach there), I could determine the general area, and then it was fairly easy to spot the building they had used.

    But when I went there in person to shoot the photos, something was wrong. It was clearly the same building, but the entrance didn't match what was seen on TV. It wasn't until I was at my computer again, and able to compare my photos with the show's screencaps, that I realized they had faked the entrance, creating a front door where the garage really exists.

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