“Night of the Living Dead” Chapel Resurrected
In 1967, an upcoming, unknown film director named George A. Romero set out to make a movie with his production company Image Ten and a group of unknown actors and actresses in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That film in question was none other than Night of the Living Dead! Filmed in more than 4 weeks and shot on a minimal budget of $114,000, Night shocked audiences when it first premiered on October 1st, 1968, and still does so to this day. The film also managed to pave the way for independent filmmakers, along with bringing horror closer to the real world.
One of the most prominent locations where the movie was shot was Evans City Cemetery, located 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. The cemetery has been a host to several NOTLD fans ever since the film broke through the barriers of pop culture, and it still stands as one of the few locations left of the film. Most notably in the background of when Johnny (Russ Streiner) and Barbara (Judith O’Dea) exit their car to visit their father’s grave, and when the cemetery zombie (Bill Hinzman) attacks Barbara in the car, you can clearly see a small chapel made out of cement blocks. That same chapel still stands in Evans City Cemetery, but just barely.
Used primarily as a storage shed for decades, the chapel has fallen into a state of great disrepair. All of the windows were shuttered, the roof was leaking, and the cement bricks were eroded. Time had taken its toll on this iconic landmark. Ron Volz, president of the Evans City Cemetery board, said that although the building was structurally sound, it remained a liability to them and needed to be demolished. He estimated that it would take $50,000 to return the chapel to its former glory.
Luckily, for NOTLD fans, there was hope. Gary Streiner, a sound engineer on the film, had started a campaign in September 2011 to raise the $50,000 needed to help fix the chapel by the following October. The response from the fans was overwhelming, with more than 2,500 members on the official Facebook group, The Living Dead Festival. The group had managed to raise close to $20,000 towards the campaign through E-bay auctions, NOTLD film screenings, donations and much more!
And boy did it ever pay off. The word spread like a virus, a zombie virus! Way to go NOTLD fans! Just look at these before and after photos and see for yourself the love that true and dedicated horror fans have.
By – William Shaw