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Monroeville

Zombies, fans, actors return to Monroeville Mall for Living Dead Weekend

Dillon Carr
| Monday, May 21, 2018, 2:18 p.m.
A production photo from 'Dawn of the Dead,' shot at Monroeville Mall.
Photos © 1978 The MKR Group Inc.
A production photo from 'Dawn of the Dead,' shot at Monroeville Mall.
Zombie nurse Jennifer Williams of Loretto stands in front of a control center used in the 1978 George Romero film 'Dawn of the Dead' on Friday, June 9, 2017. Enthusiasts toured Monroeville Mall and saw some sites where filming for the movie took place. Tours were part of the Steel City Con at the nearby Monroeville Convention Center.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Zombie nurse Jennifer Williams of Loretto stands in front of a control center used in the 1978 George Romero film 'Dawn of the Dead' on Friday, June 9, 2017. Enthusiasts toured Monroeville Mall and saw some sites where filming for the movie took place. Tours were part of the Steel City Con at the nearby Monroeville Convention Center.
Lawrence DeVincentz re-enacts a zombie scene on a Monroeville Mall escalator. Enthusiasts of the 1978 George Romero film 'Dawn of the Dead' toured the mall on Friday, June 9, 2017, and saw some sites where filming took place. Tours conducted by DeVincentz, location tour guide, were part of Steel City Con at the nearby Monroeville Convention Center.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Lawrence DeVincentz re-enacts a zombie scene on a Monroeville Mall escalator. Enthusiasts of the 1978 George Romero film 'Dawn of the Dead' toured the mall on Friday, June 9, 2017, and saw some sites where filming took place. Tours conducted by DeVincentz, location tour guide, were part of Steel City Con at the nearby Monroeville Convention Center.
A production photo from George Romero's 1978 film 'Dawn of the Dead,' shot at Monroeville Mall.
© 1978 The MKR Group Inc.
A production photo from George Romero's 1978 film 'Dawn of the Dead,' shot at Monroeville Mall.
A production photo from George Romero's 1978 film 'Dawn of the Dead,' shot at Monroeville Mall.
The MKR Group Inc.
A production photo from George Romero's 1978 film 'Dawn of the Dead,' shot at Monroeville Mall.

It's coming to get you.

That's what the organizers of this year's Living Dead Weekend: Monroeville are saying about the June 8-10 zombie festival that will reunite the cast of a George Romero cult horror classic and host other movie-related activities.

Kevin Kriess, the event's organizer, said thousands of undead fans flocked to the mall last year for the inaugural festival to celebrate shared adorations of “Dawn of the Dead,” which was filmed inside the mall.

But this year, 40 years later, will be a little more reflective, Kriess said.

Romero, known as the father of the modern zombie film, starting with his “Night of the Living Dead” in 1968, died on July 17, 2017. He was 77.

“We built this event around George being there when we first started organizing it,” Kriess said. “But people are responding in a way that's like, ‘Let's do this for George; let's celebrate his works.' ”

Kriess is the owner of the Living Dead Museum in Evans City. The museum was in Monroeville Mall from 2007 through 2013. Evans City has hosted a zombie festival every year since 2009. Monroeville Mall's first was in 2017. Kriess hopes to make the three-day festival in Monroeville aimed at remembering “Dawn of the Dead” an annual event.

But those who miss Monroeville's event will have a second chance to get their fill of the living dead at the Living Dead Weekend: Evans City in Butler County. That festival takes place Oct. 19-21.

“We sort of developed a family type following — the living dead family of people that come to our events,” Kriess said. “It's a good reunion every year, and it's almost like it doesn't matter what we have, people are ready to come back to do this thing they've discovered.”

The mall festival will attract fans from around the world, he said. There will also be 40 actors, actresses and extras from the movie's cast, he said, including the flick's stars Ken Foree, Gaylen Ross and Scott Reiniger.

Cast members will sign autographs and participate in question and answer panels. And there will be plenty of time for photographs with them, he said.

A sculpture of Romero, designed and built by Verona filmmaker Christian Stavrakis, will be dedicated at 1 p.m. on the mall's lower level near the Dick's Sporting Goods Court.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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