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Martians (and Tim Burton) help Las Vegas casino implosion live forever

Updated November 7, 2019 - 12:25 pm

Las Vegas loves hotel implosions. But 24 years ago today, the Landmark hotel fell in what might be Las Vegas’ most unusual casino exit.

Because Martians did it.

Not really, of course. But footage of the space age-styled hotel’s implosion did appear in Tim Burton’s 1996 film “Mars Attacks!” which has made it perhaps the most-seen Las Vegas casino implosion so far.

The drama of Landmark’s fall was all the more memorable by its distinctive futuristic look, which was said to have been inspired by Seattle’s Space Needle. That helped it to be featured in a number of TV shows and movies over the years.

Groundbreaking for the Landmark was in 1961 and the hotel’s colorful story includes ownership for several years by Howard Hughes. In 1993, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the Landmark with the intention of demolishing it and using the land for parking and convention space.

So, on Nov. 7, 1995, a 13-second implosion did for real what Martians did on film. At least the Landmark was in good company: The film depicts nasty aliens also turning Big Ben, Mount Rushmore and the Taj Mahal into rubble.

Burton, the film’s director, recalled during a recent news conference in Las Vegas what it was like to watch the Landmark fall. As reported by the Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes: “When it happened, the dust settled, and everything was just silent. It was just powerful, like watching an ancient species of animal dying or something. Everything just went silent.

“There was a deep sadness, and a deep, kind of strange feeling. That’s why it was so powerful, because of that deep feeling.”

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