Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Zombie Mecca



Q: "So what did YOU do on your summer vacation, Doctor Zombie?"
A: "I only went to the coolest fucking place on the planet!"


So yeah... Mrs. Zombie and I took last week off and did a little vacation before the kids went back to school. We got a hotel in Pittsburgh and spent a day at Kennywood - an amusement park just outside of Pittsburgh.

I was cool with it, and told Mrs. Zombie so. Even though I was going to have to deal with crowds and waiting in line and the unceasing brutality of August sunshine (The sun is trying to kill me. The bastard.)...

I was fine with it because, when she started planning the trip, I told her that I would swallow my hate for other people, fight my general antisocialness and gamely tolerate the unwashed masses... if we made one stop while in Pittsburgh.

She was almost sorry she said yes.

You see, no self respecting zombie film fan would DARE go to Pittsburgh without making the pilgrimage to that most holy of holy zombie-related places -- the Monroeville Mall.

That's right, dear reader... I went to the very same mall where the father of the modern day zombie movie filmed his classic 1978 Dawn of the Dead. I was in geekish heaven!

The funny thing is, I was certain she'd never go for it... but she indulged my idiocy and gave in. (I suspect when she realized that I was asking to go to a mall - in a state where there's NO sales tax - she was much more likely to acquiesce, but whatever, dude. I went to the fucking mall of malls!)

So after a short hop into suburban Monroeville PA, we rolled up on the awesomeness of Zombie Mecca. We were on a holy pilgrimage, even though we were in Pittsburgh, which is the most unholy of places to any self respecting Browns fan. As I said many times during the week, we were truly pilgrims in an unholy land! But I digress...

So, while Mrs. Zombie and WolfGirl perused the likes of such stores as Justice and Bath and Body Works.... ZombieBoy and I ran around like the total geeks we are, snapping pictures and making fools of ourselves.

We arrived 15 minutes before the mall opened and this pleased me immensely as the gates were down in all of the stores, especially at the JC Penney. I snapped a couple quick pictures of the Penney's as it appeared in Dawn of the Dead. I even took a picture of myself in front of the very side where Peter, Roger, and Flyboy went in and out.

While I was running around, waxing nerdy about the awesomeness of being in the fucking mall where Romero filmed Dawn... and before the stores opened... Mrs. Zombie and WolfGirl wandered around trying to get a wireless signal so that Mrs. Zombie could update her Facebook page to say where she was and that her husband was acting like a big, geeky child. Alas, she couldn't get a signal...

One cool point... the comic book store at the mall, Toy Galaxy, totally embraces the cinematic history of the mall. The have autographed pictures, a "maul of fame" with bloody handprints and autographs from various stars of zombiedom, t-shirts, movie posters, and even a small exhibit in the back devoted to all things zombie. They have a great staff and host various zombie themed events throughout the year. Definitely stop in if you ever make the pilgrimage, you won't regret it.

So… the tour begins!

Mall Interior


Much of the mall has been remodeled, but the original 70's style skylights remain.


Another shot of the skylights. In the movie, our intrepid heroes peer down through these when they first land on the mall of the roof...


The fish pond. The original fountain is long gone, but this pond remains with some big hornking carp in it.


Me on the bridge over the pond, imagining the awesomeness of a biker falling from the upper level into it...


A carousel now stands where the original clocktower was. Next to the carousel is Toy Galazy and (gag!) a Steelers store.

One of the escalators that the zombies rode up and down on...

Some copyright infringement in the mall! Posted mostly so I could cross post over at Zombie Squad and let them know that - even at the Monroeville Mall - their shit's being ripped off!


Ice Rink


The ice rink is long gone now and has been replaced by a food court.


JC Penneys


A shot of the Penney's store, gates down and everything. This is pointing twards the corner that Roger, Peter, and Flyboy went into... and where Flyboy lost his rifle.

A long shot of the Penney's...with ZombieBoy providing some perspective....

A picture of me in the aforementioned corner. This is right in front of the spot where Fran sat looking at the sad zombie...

The world's most famous escalator? I think maybe!

Close Up of the elevator. I guess at one point they had those antislide things in the middle to prevent people re-enacting the scene where Peter slides down... but they're no longer there.

And... on that note... me pretending to slide down the escalator! : )

Myself and ZombieBoy, sharing a father and son moment...

A shot of the escalator from the top floor!

Long shot of the Elevator where Flyboy met his gruesome demise...

The old 70's style script and electronics of the elevator.

The elevator downstairs...



Boiler Room

The hallway leading to the boiler room... there's a bathroom at the end and ZombieBoy had to go, so I snapped a shot of him making his way down the hallway. Then I realized that, in my excitement, I need to go too... good thing because, at the end of the hallway, the entrance to the boiler room was open. I stepped past the Authorized personnel Only sign and snapped the following two quick shots. I jumped back out and hit the head!






Exterior

The entrance we went into the mall at. Actually, this lead to the hallway right above the former clocktower site. I was just jazzed becasue the sign said Monroeville Mall.

The Dock. It figured prominently in the movie.

Parking lot shot. There were several shots of this in the movie, but the view has changed considerably (the strip mall with the Dick's Sporting Goods is relatively recent.)

Another shot, looking East from the dock. The road that the bikers came down is immediately to the right of this picture, but the picture I took of it - sadly - didn't come out.

Toy Galaxy and the Monroeville Zombies Exhibit

The awesome zombie themed exhibit at the back of the store. It's free, but they'll accept donations. I threw in a couple bucks and then bought a Monroeville Zombies t-shirt as well to support the store. The staff - as I said - was cool and my shirt was rung up by a cute and friendly Goth chick (I know, friendly and Goth are oxymorons... but it's true!)

The sign says it all... I do think the reflection of myself and ZombieBoy in the glass is kind of cool...

I'll admit it... I eagerly await the day I can see an actual paper with this headline!

ZombieBoy and I in front of a mannequin of Bill Hinzman's original Night of the Living Dead graveyard zombie.

Maul of Fame shot - Ken Foree's autograph.

Maul of Fame - Tom I'm-Fucking-Awesome Savini!!!


Maul of Fame - "They're coming to get you, Barabara!"

Hope you enjoyed the pictures! I have one final thought...

BEST.VACATION.EVER.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know about the copyright infringement!

-zombiesquad

glittergirl said...

oh my gosh!!! i got the goosebumps looking at those pics. amazing how some of the original 70's stuff is intact. the best pic is the one outside of penny's with the gate down.

Randal Graves said...

What's truly scary is that there are lunatics who would rather spend time on a Hawaiian beach instead of basking in the orange glow of the greatest zombie flick in history.

Best vacation ever indeed!

Drunken Blogger said...

I went to film school in Pittsburgh and went to the Monroeville mall quite a bit. I lived in Freindship in Pittsburgh and Tom Savini's house was literally like four blocks away, you could tell which one was his because of the wrougt iron fence in front of it that had bats on it it was supposedly a gift from Stephen King. My room mate and I once saw George Romero, at our local blockbuster. He was renting Tremors 2.

keep the plaza! said...
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keep the plaza! said...
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Patrick Nedz said...

There have been some changes since these photos were posted. Sadly JCPenney is no longer in its original location and the elevator and escalator in that store are no longer accessible as they were featured in the movie it was a cool landmark. JCPenney moved to an empty location at an anchor space and the original JCPenney will become a movie theater. The mall was renovated about 10 years ago and until then the mall looked much as it did when dawn of the dead was filmed with all its original lighting fixtures upper level handrails and staircases with fountains at both ends of the mall. There were all replaced with modern stuff to make it look more contemporary which I wish they had just left alone.