Road Trip of the Living Dead
I make no secret of my obsession with zombie movies. This does not mean I like just any movie with zombies in it. There’s no place for “Zombies vs Werewolf Strippers” or whatever else in my movie collection. I mean the good zombie movies with subtext, engaging characters and plot. If I had to narrow it down to my top two zombie movies of all time it would by George A, Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Night of the Living Dead (1968) in that order (in my opinion “Dawn” is one of the rare examples of the superior movie sequel).
Both movies were filmed in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which is around 400 miles from where I’m currently living in New Jersey. I’ve done a number of road trips across the North Eastern US and with time running out on my stay in the USA I embarked on my final vacation here: A Road Trip of the Living Dead.
While the drive to Pittsburgh was a long one for me all of the locations for both movies are within 40 miles of each other. With a car you can easily hit them in a few hours. The google map below shows all the locations and points of interest I took in over a single day.
For my trip my initial stops were in Monroeville to visit a few “Dawn” locations. These correspond to the red pins on the map.
First up was the so-called “Mall of the Dead”, Monroeville Mall. This is where most of “Dawn” was set.
On the exterior much of the mall is still recognisable especially at the rear.
As it has been almost 40 years since “Dawn” was filmed nothing of the original look remains in the interior. However, you can still locate areas where some of the movie’s action took place such as the corridor leading to the heroes’ hideout.
Up until the week before I visited in May 2015 the small arched bridge featured in the movie still remained. This had just been torn down at the time of my visit which was a disappointment. At the time of writing a campaign was underway to save the dismantled bridge and preserve it in a museum.
Other locations in the mall are more difficult to locate such as the balcony where the notable “No More Room in Hell” dialogue takes place. See the link to “Adam the Woo’s” video at the end of this post for a great guide to how to find this and other locations in the mall.
Next up was the location of the “Zombie Hunt” scenes which is only a couple of miles from the mall on Logans Ferry Road. Unlike the mall this road is mostly unchanged from the movie only missing the army trucks, mob of armed rednecks and National Guardsmen drinking Iron City beer.
A short walk further along Logans Ferry Road is Monroeville Airport where the helicopter refuelling scene and a few zombie kills were filmed. I didn’t attempt to enter the airport as I had no wish to get in trouble with Homeland Security.
Living Dead Museum
Next stop was Evans City which is 40 miles to the North of Monroeville. “Night” and another Romero movie The Crazies (1973) were filmed here.
My first visit in Evans City was to The Living Dead Museum which is the green pin on the map.
The museum is small but packs a load of cool stuff into the space including original props from many of Romero’s movies, memorabilia, a “Maul of Fame” and many recreations of zombies from the films. At $3 it is a bargain. Note that the museum is not open every weekday so check their opening hours on their website if you are planning a visit.
Next up were various “Night” locations in and around Evans City which are the blue pins on the map.
I thought Monroeville Mall would be the highlight of my trip. I was wrong as Evans City Cemetery knocks it into a cocked hat.
It looks almost exactly as it did in the opening scenes of “Night” right down to the sign at the entrance.
The particular headstone Barbara cowered behind and the grave stone on which Johnny had his head smashed in remain in place.
I wrapped my trip to Evans City by visiting the Bridge where the posse scenes from “Night” were filmed and the location of the Farmhouse where most of the movie was set. Both are located close together a few miles north of Evans City on Ash Stop Road. The bridge looks quite different as its missing the trusses’ it sports in the film. The farmhouse is long gone having been demolished straight after filming. You can see a newer house sitting on the same foundations from Ash Stop Road.
My final act of the day was to pay homage to the “Zombie Hunt” scene by sampling a few bottles of Iron City beer. A perfect end to a perfect day.
If you want to do a similar road trip then the following YouTube videos by Adam The Woo make for a good overall guide.
- Dawn of the Dead – 1978 Filming Locations & Secrets
- TheDailyWoo – 746 (7/17/14) Night Of The Living Dead
The first video takes in most of the locations from “Dawn”. I get the impression that they didn’t have permission for some of their filming which means they visited a few places I wasn’t prepared to trespass in (like the grounds of Monroeville Airport and the back stairwell of Monroeville Mall). The second video recreates all of the action of the “Night” cemetery scene right down to the individual headstones.