There are so many things that make Pittsburgh unique, and zombies are definitely one of them!
Pittsburgh is known for many things, but did you know that Pittsburgh has strong roots in zombie pop culture history?
The modern perception of a "zombie apocalypse" was created right here in Pittsburgh with the cult classic movie Night of the Living Dead. This was the first film to present zombies not as supernatural creatures but as a worldwide plague bringing the recently dead back to life - with a small band of survivors blockading themselves against the horde.
A Carnegie Mellon University graduate, filmmaker George A. Romero had strong Pittsburgh roots. He shot Night of the Living Dead in Evans City, about 30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh. When he released the film in 1968, it premiered at the Fulton Theater in Pittsburgh, now the Byham Theater. It is ranked among the top profitable horror movies of all time, and it kick started the zombie trend in the 1970's.
Scott Simmons, Creative & Marketing Director at theScareHouse seems to know everything there is to know about zombie history. Here's what he has to say.
"Everyone, even people who haven't seen all of the original Living Dead films, probably knows the rules: The recently deceased now eat the living, they move slow, you can only stop them by destroying the brain. We're familiar with the tropes of strangers coming together for survival within shopping malls or a boarded-up farmhouse...but most people don't realize that none of that existed before Night of the Living Dead. That's the film that established the rules that everyone knows. Every single episode of Walking Dead on TV owes a huge debt to Night of the Living Dead. The modern day zombie outbreak is a horror archetype on the level with vampires and werewolves, and it was all started right here in Pittsburgh."
This year is the 50th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead. It's being celebrated throughout Pittsburgh all year long, with the repository of events living on the Romero Lives website, a site dedicated to an ongoing celebration of the life and legacy of George Romero.
Scott Simmons believe that you can't get more "Pittsburgh" than the story of the creation of Night of the Living Dead's production. "George Romero's efforts speak to the attitude of Pittsburgh. Night of the Living Dead was one of the first true independent movies. No major studio, no Hollywood connections. George and his buddies pooled their resources and found some investors before producing their own movie on their own terms. That spirit is very Pittsburgh. It's not rudeness or arrogance, it's self-reliance. Friendly, resourceful, and proud for sure - but on our own terms. Romero didn't see the need for Hollywood approval or participation, he knew that his Pittsburgh guys could get it done."
Pittsburgh continues its enjoyment of the horror genre in many ways. ScareHouse, ranked as one of America's best Haunted Houses by Travel Channel and a leader in all things scary, is playing tribute to the Living Dead Legacy of Romeo with their haunt called Pittsburgh Zombies: Reanimated. Come face to face with hordes of the hungry dead in the zombie capital of the world with a haunted house full of frights, jumps, and nostalgia.
Also, make sure to check out The Living Dead Museum and Gift Shop - it's a celebration of all things zombie. Located in the town center of Evans City, PA, close to the location of Romero's Night of the Living Dead film.