River's Edge movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was River's Edge filmed?

1987

About River's Edge

Several horrifying crimes have influenced how the justice system perceives juvenile sentencing laws. The 1981 gruesome murder of 14-year-old Marcy Renee Conrad by Anthony Jacques Broussard, her 16-year-old boyfriend, is one such instance. The gut heinous crime partially inspired the premise of Tim Hunter’s 1986 crime drama River’s Edge.

The film stars Keanu Reeves (Matt), Crispin Glover (Layne), Dennis Hopper (Feck), Ione Skye Leitch (Clarissa), and Daniel Roebuck (Samson “John” Tollet). It opens with Tim (Joshua John Miller), Matt’s pre-teen brother, tossing a doll in the river. Across the bank, he sees John sitting beside the nude corpse of his girlfriend Jamie (Danyi Deats).

Matt and Layne score marijuana from Feck, who is a former biker turned drug dealer. They then smoke weed with their friends, Tony (Josh Rickman), Maggie (Rocana Zal), and Clarissa, at school. John arrives and tells them that he killed Jamie, but Maggie and Clarissa don’t take him seriously.

Later, John takes Matt and Layne to the river bank where they see Jamie’s body. Matt is disturbed by the scene but Layne is more focused on helping John cover up the crime. The trio plan to revisit the crime scene that evening and Clarissa tags along.

Mike, Layne’s older brother, drives the group to the crime scene where they all view the dead body. Out of the group, Matt and Clarissa are conflicted about Jamie’s murder, and they discuss their feelings about the crime. Matt eventually directs the cops to the crime scene but when being interrogated, they threaten to charge him for being an accessory to the fact.

John and Feck visit the river bank, and Feck confesses to killing his girlfriend years earlier. In a drunken stupor, John relishes taking Jamie’s life without remorse. At dawn, having fallen asleep at the riverbank, Feck shoots John in the head.

City Locations

Sacramento, Tujunga, Los Angeles,

Location Types

American, Mansions, Naturescapes, Buildings/Offices, Retail

Location Styles

Americana/Anywhere America

River's Edge Locations

Neal Jimenez took a screenwriting course at the University of California, where he penned the River Edge screenplay as a class project He was inspired by the Conrad murder which had just happened at the time. Some of his coursemates inspired other characters seen in the movie.

The Helmsdale Film Corporation optioned his script, and they got Hunter on board to direct the crime drama. After four months in the pre-production phase, the slate went down, and the production started filming around Los Angeles, Tujunga, and Sacramento.

Hunter settled for several locations in Sacramento because of the abundance of natural locations that would help spring the River Edge scenes to life. A flood forced the production unit to abandon filming at the American River. Hunter then settled on the foothills above Burbank, at the Sunland-Tujunga community, for the rest of the riverbank scenes.

Production took place between January to March 1986, and the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, before its theatrical release in May 1987. There is plenty more to unpack about the chilling yet riveting analytical film. Here is a rundown of some of the filming locations of River’s Edge.

Fun facts:

After falling sick on the first day of filming the River’s Edge production, Miller replaced Corey Haim as Tim. The crime drama references Easy Rider, a film that Hopper happened to star in as well. Reeves and Hopper shared the screen once again in the 1994 thriller Speed.

Tim sees John at the riverside scene in River's Edge

River Bend Park, Sacramento

The movie opens at a footbridge, we see Tim holding a doll. He lifts it over the bridge and drops the doll down to the river below. The frame holds on to the doll floating in the water, before panning to the right side of the footbridge.

Tim rides his bike to the center of the bridge, and then the camera pans to the left revealing a dead naked woman. The frame holds on to her lifeless face and then to a man on the left of the frame sitting next to the cadaver. When Tim later encounters the man from the riverbank, John, arguing with a store checker (Taylor Negron) who won’t sell him a beer, he mentions, “ I saw you this morning.

River Bend Park in Sacramento, at 2300 Rod Beaudry Drive, served as the setting for the River’s Edge scene. The 444-acre riverfront park is popular among equestrians, hikers, rafters, horseback riding enthusiasts, campers, picnic goers, and wildlife watchers.

It is part of the American River Parkway and the Sacramento Regional Parks manages the area. The bridge offering a breathtaking view of the American River is nearby.

Matt scolds Tim for tossing their sister’s doll scene in River's Edge

9933 Redmont Avenue, Tujunga

When Tim gets back home, he finds his brother Matt and mom Madeleine (Constance Forslund) frantically searching for his sister Kim’s doll. Annoyed with him, his mom starts asking where the doll is, and Tim cuts in saying, “I killed her… I drowned her.”

Matt scolds his brother for not only pulling a stunt like that but also bragging about it. Trying to console Kim, Madeleine assures her that she will make Tim buy her another one. Madeleine's boyfriend Jim (Leo Rossi) keeps shouting out all along that he is trying to sleep, and he couldn’t be bothered with helping solve the issue.

Standing at 9933 Redmont Avenue, Tujunga, the residence used to film the River’s Edge scenes went on the market in 2017. The listing offered the abode for $740,000, and the residents had reportedly occupied the house since 1986.

Realtor.com reveals that the swanky four-bedroom mansion covers 1,698 square feet. It’s also reportedly near Paul Walker’s childhood residence, and the film star who worked for his family’s septic pumping business pumped out the residence’s tank on numerous occasions.

Other highlights include the extraordinary location, given that the property backs into the Los Angeles National Forest. The occupants have access to miles of hiking trails and wilderness to explore in their backyard!

Layne pushes Jamie’s body in the river scene in River's Edge

William B. Pond Recreation Center, 5700 Arden Way, Carmichael

After the group goes to see the body a few times, Layne goes back to the bank again. He drags Jamie’s body and rolls her into the river and pushes Jamie’s body into the water. He later meets up with John at the grocery store, and driving to his house, they notice police cars parked nearby.

Layne stays calm telling John, “We’re just going to drive around here a little while… we’re going to have to get you out of town somehow.” They drive off to Feck’s where John hides out while the cops continue the investigations.

Some of the other river scenes were filmed at the William B. Pond Recreation Center, at 5700 Arden Way, in Carmichael. It is near the American River Parkway offering access to hiking and biking trails.

The Park also serves as a gateway to the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail. It’s the perfect spot to have a picnic lunch, and the man-made fishing pond lures anglers. Outdoorsy folks will find plenty to do around the park; from exploring various habitats to camping on the expansive grounds.

To get to the River’s Edge location, exit Highway 50 onto the northbound off-ramp on Watt Avenue. At Fair Oaks Boulevard, turn right and go right once again at Arden Way. From there, the drive leads you to the park’s entrance.

The group of teens smokes while in school scene in River's Edge

Verdugo Hills High School, Plainfield

Vice described the River Edge teens as an “anti-Brat Pack” lot who drank, popped pills, smoked weed, and essentially didn’t have any moral compass. The article on the teen film further says that they perfected the “grunge” look years before it became an American mainstream term.

It’s best exemplified by the scene when the group smokes on the steps of the school. Tony asks Layne for a cigarette and he reminds him about giving up smoking. Tony replies, “I gave up yesterday, not today.” Matt, Clarissa, and Maggie join them before John appears and tells them about killing Jamie.

Verdugo Hills High School, at 10625 Plainview Avenue, Tujunga provided the setting for the school scenes. The public school opened its doors in 1937, and some of its notable alumni include actor A. Michael Baldwin, model/actor Ivan Dorschner, and travel blogger Ryan Starr.

The River’s Edge filming location has hosted several productions through the decades including Heathers, Little Fires Everywhere, My So-Called Life, Quantum Leap, and Beverly Hills, 90210. It also provided the backdrop for Selena Gomez’s Bad Liar music video and Marilyn Manson’s Fight Song.

Tim runs off to Moko’s house scene in River's Edge

8630 Wentworth St. Shadow Hills

After the debacle with Kim’s missing toy, Tim once again defaces one of his sister’s toys. Matt, who arrives back from the police station after his interrogation isn’t in the best of moods, and seeing what Tim did, he gives him a beating.

After pleading with his brother to stop beating him, Tim vows, “You're going to pay for what you did. You’re going to die.”

He runs off to his friend Moko’s (Yuzo Nishihara ) house, and they plan to break into Feck’s house to steal a gun. The two boys break into the dealer’s house and find his stash of weed instead. They get stoned and pass out.

The residence that stood in for Moko’s house, at 8630 Wentworth St, Shadow Hills, has since gone through some major remodeling. It is right across the street from 8635 Wentworth Street, which was used to film the scenes at Clarissa’s house.

According to Zillow, the River’s Edge filming location is a two-bedroom abode resting on 1,118 square feet. The Los Angeles International Golf Course is three minutes away, and the San Gabriel Mountains are visible from the front window.

John hits up a hardware store scene in River's Edge

8256 Foothill Boulevard, Sunland-Tujunga

Matt and Clarissa run into John at a store, when they are unsuccessfully trying to buy some beer. The checker kept saying that he couldn’t sell them alcohol past two in the morning.

John pulls out Feck’s gun and tells the checker saying that he is there to turn back the hands of time. After leaving with their beer, John hits up a hardware store and steals bullets. With the burglar alarm blaring, he flees the scene in Feck’s waiting car.

He tells Feck, “Now, we’ll see if that gun of yours still works. In a heinous twist, Feck used the gun to shoot John and explained his actions saying, “There was no hope for him.”

The now-defunct Foothill True Value Hardware store at 8256 Foothill Boulevard, Sunland-Tujunga, served as the River’s Edge film set. It is right across the liquor store where the gang repeatedly gets their alcohol.

Bus 90 can get you to Sunland, and even though the store is closed, the building stands and it’s worth a visit for the photo-op.

Conclusion

If you find yourself in Sacramento or Tujunga, then you are equipped with a list of River’s Edge filming locations to visit. While at it, also stop by 6736 Foothill Blvd, Tujunga, which was the location for the restaurant where Mike works.

John buys Layne beer from the liquor market at 8301 Foothill Boulevard. Layne kicks Matt and Clarissa out of his car at Sunland Boulevard and Tuxford Street.

Clarissa and Maggie use a phone at McGroarty Park located at 7570 McGroarty Terrace, Tujunga. Layne makes a call on the pay phone at the “Jesus is Coming” bookshop located at 7600 Foothill Blvd., Tujunga.

Matt and his mother talk in the car while at the Arco station at 6464 Foothill Blvd., Tujunga. Other noteworthy locations seen in the film include the American River and the bridge running above it, and the Rancho Cordova.