The name Las Vegas immediately conjures up the words gambling, sex, sin (Vegas's nickname is Sin City) and excess. Featuring legalized gambling since the 1930s, Las Vegas is known for its extravagant casinos and wild nightlife. It also has a notorious past with organized crime. Is it any wonder that the city frequently is used as a setting in fiction?
In Stephen King's epic novel of apocalyptic horror fantasy, The Stand, Las Vegas is the base of operations for villain Randall Flagg and his minions. It is here that all the characters gather who heed the call of the "Walkin Dude". Lloyd Henreid, the "Rat Man", Julie Lawry, Nadine Cross and the "Trashcan Man" are all led to serve Randall Flagg.
The final confrontation of the novel takes place here on Randall's turf. Stuart Redman, Larry Underwood, Ralph Brentner and Glen Bateman all walk from their settlement in Boulder, Colorado to Vegas after Mother Abagail's prophetic dream foretells the trip. Stu is injured during the journey and is unable to complete it. The remaining three are captured by Flagg's army. After Glen is executed, the entire city, Flagg, Larry, Ralph and the rest are blown to smithereens when a giant glowing hand manifests and sets off a nuclear explosive device that Trashcan Man brought to the scene as a gift for Flagg.
The TV mini-series adapted from the novel was shot in part in Las Vegas.
The Night Stalker
Las Vegas was also the setting for Jeff Rice's novel The Night Stalker (Originally titled The Kolchak Papers). The novel was adapted for a television movie by writer Richard Matheson prior to it being published. The Night Stalker tells the tale of a Las Vegas reporter who stumbles on the existence of a vampire preying on women in the city.
After the film did exceedingly well (earning the highest ratings of any TV movie up til that point), a sequel was filmed and eventually led to a weekly television series that lasted a single season. The sequel (The Night Strangler) and series transplanted the characters of Carl Kolchak and Tony Vincenzo in Seattle, Washington and eventually Chicago, Illinios. Carl Kolchak would return to Vegas once more in the episode entitled The Vampire, which acted as a quasi-sequel to the original movie.
Las Vegas has also been used for the films The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), Anaconda (1997), Demonoid: Messenger of Death (1981), Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) (1969), The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964), Leprechaun 3 (1995), Mars Attacks! (1996), The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals (1969), Vampirella (1996) and Vegas Vampires (2003)
The MGM Grand Fire
On November 21, 1980, a fire broke out inside a restaurant inside the former MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. The fire wounded 650 people and killed another 85. The fire is the second-worst hotel fire in US history.