The Living Dead Museum rises again to salute the classic horror film

Monroeville, Pennsylvania – It is no surprise that a museum dedicated to zombies could not remain in its grave for long.

The Living Dead Museum, an institution dedicated to honoring the 1968 seminary 1968 zombie film “Night of the Living Dead” and its auteur, George Romero, was a fixture in downtown Evans City since 2013. The film was shot in and around Tiny Butler. The county community that prides itself on being the birthplace of the zombie genre.

But in October, the museum closed its Evans City doors – only to rise again next month at the Monroeville Mall, where the sequel “Dawn of the Dead” was filmed. And the fan can relax.

“Be assured that everything that was in Evans City will still be available in Monroeville and represent a lot of new surprises,” said Kevin Crees, owner and curator of the Living Dead Museum.

The new museum will feature many old favorite exhibits about the world of horror films, such as a timeline that walls more than 50 years of zombie movie history and “Mole of Fame”, the handprint of celebrity horror stars. This would make it a point to delve more into Monroeville Mall’s “Dawn of the Dead” Bona Fides.

“The new location … will dig very deep into that film with screen-used props and set pieces showcased, including the original (JC) Penny’s flyboy elevator – which has been revived from the dead,” Mr. Kriess said. Fans will understand the context of a famous zombie character.

A scene from the classic horror flick
A scene from the classic horror flick “Night of the Living Dead,” which is getting a fitting tribute inside the Pennsylvania Mall seen in the sequel to a movie.
Everett Collection

And, playing the role of a viewer who knows his style well, the new museum will also feature an original cabin and works from the horror classic “Evil Dead 2”, as well as items from other ties to shopping. From the center’s pop-culture past – including films “Flashdance” since 1983 and “Jack and Miri Make a Porno” from 2008, the Stephen King novel “Christine” and more recently the Netflix series “Mindhunter”.

All of this bodes well for Monroeville, but it leaves the city that Romero’s work made the iconic more thoroughly zombie-like.

Resurfaced in monroeville

The Living Dead Museum was born in 2008 as one of several local monuments in Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”, but it actually began at the Monroeville Mall. After about five years, the museum was moved to the city of Evans City.

Mr. Crees wants to clarify that the decision to leave for Monroeville had nothing to do with Evans City and what to do with the unfortunate realities of trying to run a business during a global epidemic.

About two years ago, he began plans to expand a new Monroeville Mall location, which would complement the attraction of the Evans City Museum. He did not publicize that information as pre-pandemic. He wanted it to be a surprise for horror fans around the world when it was ready – with a grand opening.

The Monroeville expansion was scheduled to open in spring 2020, which is when COVID-19 laid out all the best plans.

Financial constraints caused by the epidemic forced Mr. Crees to make the difficult decision to close one of the museums, and because he had already invested so much time and effort into building the Monroeville, he closed the Ever City location Option selected.

“For all intents and purposes we took steps, but it did not start with that plan.”

Currently, only the museum’s gift shop is open in the mall due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Mr. Crees hopes that by this summer the entire performance of the memorabilia will be publicly accessible.

Zombie city

Back in Evans City, Mayor Dean Zinkanan is acutely aware of how much his city will miss the Living Dead Museum.

He said it was a very good attraction for the city – a small bore in Butler County with an estimated population of 1,910 by 2019, according to US Census data – which sees a lot of tourism from terrified fans making pilgrimages.

People come from all over the world for the “Living Dead” experience, including a couple from Australia, who married at Evans City Cemetery Chapel. As much as he will remember those fake ballpoint pens that extract fake blood, Mr. Zinkhan understands why the museum had to go.

“Money talks and people move,” he said. “And they have no money to pay the rent and the employees. What are you going to do? “

The Living Dead Museum is well mixed, among other stores in Monroeville Mall, Pennsylvania.
The Living Dead Museum is well mixed, among other stores in Monroeville Mall, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Zinkhann hopes visitors will keep coming anyway. Tourists will still be able to check out all the other tributes around Evans City for “Night of the Living Dead”, including the “Living Dead” historical markers downtown, places seen in movies like the cemetery and chapel, and the Evans City Historical . Society Museum, which contains many information about the movie.

The mayor’s idea that the economic hit will be limited is supported by 54-year-old Jerry Oliver of Center Township, who owns several buildings around the old Living Dead Museum and is currently trying to acquire that space as well. He is confident that Evans City will “remain the best kept secret north of Pittsburgh.”

“That building will be remodeled,” Mr. Oliver said. “The Living Dead Museum was great, but a beautiful place. I think the commercial impact was sporadic, and maybe something that is more regular and mainstream fine.

Not forgotten

It helps that the museum is still celebrating its biannual Living Dead Weekend, festivals with all the horror, in both Monianville and Evans City.

One of the festival’s co-founders is 74-year-old Gary Streiner of Evans City, who worked as a sound engineer on “Night of the Living Dead” and is now Image Ten Inc. Is on the board of the production company that handles the “Living Dead” franchise.

“Evans City was found on ‘Night of the Living Dead’, but the two came together at a point in 1967 that would go on forever,” he said.

To Mr. Streiner’s point, the films have shown an enduring popularity, exemplary only last week when a group of University of Pittsburgh students screened their new documentary “George Romero and Pittsburgh: The Early Years” Footage from the Romero archives was used. How the Chronicle gave prominence to the filmmaker.

Visitors Iris Smith and Paxson Masters, both Sewickley, check out the gift shop at the Living Dead Museum at Monroeville Mall.
Visitors Iris Smith and Paxson Masters, both Sewickley, check out the gift shop at the Living Dead Museum at Monroeville Mall.

Rick Riefenstein, 80, of Evans City, is also the co-founder of Living Dead Weekend and president of the Evans City Historical Society. He plans to make his museum’s “Living Dead” exhibitions “a little more visible” at what is now the other museum in Monroeville.

He believes the films have done much for the local economy, although some locals still don’t “realize the weight of the whole deal, the value of it all.”

“I don’t think the epidemic is going to dampen someone’s spirits for her,” he said. “I’m sure they’re still going to come here.”

Even as the Living Dead Museum is gone for the future, helping the city inspire its existence is never far from Mr. Crease’s mind.

“We’re not giving up on Evans City,” he said. “Evans City is very important to me and what we do.”

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