Starship Troopers and Hell’s Half Acre, Wyoming

Hell’s Half Acre is an escarpment located in Wyoming. It was used to represent the planet Klendathu in the film Starship Troopers.

Hell’s Half Acre is located in Natrona County, Wyoming, and is a 320-acre park characterized by its jagged formations and caves. Native peoples of the past used the region for the herding and slaughtering of buffalo by utilizing its many narrow canyons. At the time of its visitation by the U.S in 1833, the ground could be seen giving off sulfur fumes due to underground fires. After appearing on postcards labeled as Hell’s Half Acre, the site gained its current name.

The park served as the primary filming location for Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 science fiction action film Starship Troopers. This film is interpreted as a satire of the propaganda and fascism depicted in the original novel, and Hell’s Half Acre is used to depict the bug’s home planet of Klendathu. The film follows high school graduate Johnny Rico and his friends as they join various branches of Earth’s military in a future society. Political propaganda adverts also feature heavily in the film, often praising the actions of the military or embellishing humanities war effort in a satire of the original text.

The geography of Hell’s Half Acre adds to both the look and feel of the film. Not only does the jagged landscape of the region create the feeling of an alien world, its geography is used effectively in the film to isolate and surround the cast. Alien threats regularly exploit the many caves and formations in the area to ambush the protagonists, with the bugs using these cave systems to move and coordinate. This is best seen when the bugs ambush the Roughnecks as they investigate a seemingly abandoned outpost only to be beset by Arachnids on all sides. The various caves in the region make the bugs seem ever present, with attacks coming from directly below at several points in the film. The area also served as the location of Whiskey base, the location at which the cast is lured into an ambush at a destroyed human outpost.

The varied geography of Hell’s Half Acre made it difficult for the cast and crew to transport equipment to and from the site. After the filming of Starship Troopers, the site was steadily closed off to the public, and local tourist businesses have left the area.

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