A Visit to the Little Shop Where Hollywood Buys Its Dead Bodies


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A Visit to the Little Shop Where Hollywood Buys Its Dead Bodies

Containers are helpfully adorned with labels like "Rental Skulls" and "Child Bones".

On the face of it, Dapper Cadaver looks like any other windowless storefront underneath the landing pattern of Burbank Airport, just outside LA. Its sign advertises "Props Rentals, Sales, Halloween" and something called "Casualty Simulation". Google Maps helpfully tags it "Death Related" and "Horror Movie", in case that's what you're shopping for.

If it's not Halloween, the people regularly shopping for "Casualty Simulation" are the prop masters of your favourite movies and TV shows. Sure, as a high-paid art director you could make your own corpses from scratch, and many do. But when there's a shop that offers medically realistic dead bodies – not just of humans, but of all creatures great and small – you might as well go retail.


Law and Order is a frequent shopper, as were Breaking Bad and Dexter. Think Game of Thrones' top-shelf gore is too classy to be store-bought? Think again. The severed heads of certain major GOT characters were custom orders.

The place does booming business around Halloween, when the cheesier plastic skulls and zombie costumes go like hotcakes. But on an average weekday, like the day I visited, the vibe is of a place just doing business as usual, stacking up torsos and severed limbs on the floor to complete a large order, and adding the requisite blood and guts to a modified corpse. For ease of shopping, containers are helpfully adorned with labels like "Rental Skulls" and "Child Bones".

While shopping for a film project of my own, I photographed the highlights.

See more of Nate Miller's work here.

Counter skulls with price tags.

Bodies in varying states of decay.

Assorted torsos.

The rental skull box.

Animal skeletons include everything from goats to giraffes to dinosaurs.

Some of these butchered animals look realer than others.

Your basic zombie.

Dogs in varying states of decay.

Skeletons, with or without comedy eyeballs.

Freshly molded bodies.

This crime scene is actually an actual outgoing order being organised.

The child bone bin.

Some of the animal bones are real.

Working on a special order.