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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mission to Monroeville, Part 3

Like all things, my magnificent pilgrimage to the famous Monroeville Mall from Dawn of the Dead, had to come to an end. But before I committed to fulfilling my end of the bargain with my dutiful wife and spending a lovely evening/morning in a nearby suburban Pittsburgh B&B, I made sure to make the most of the fleeting time I had left on that suitably bleak day in January of 2001...

A rather humdrum shot, until you realize that this spot figures prominently in the blood-soaked climactic battle between pillaging bikers and put-out SWAT deserters/TV news employees. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is also near the spot where Peter pours a little bubbly out for his fallen homey Roger.

A favorite shot of mine. Imagine my glee upon discovering the actual hallway that led to our heroes' secret upstairs lair (which isn't actually there, by the way.) You can just picture those zombies about to stagger across the end of the hall, can't you? Interestingly, from the opposite angle, the hall goes on a lot further than it did in the movie, which leads me to believe that they must've built a false wall--ironically mirroring the very actions of the characters in the flick. There was also a large auditorium at the end of the hall, which I think was used as Tom Savini's makeup workshop.

This is the main entrance to the mall, which was walled off by tractor trailers in the movie, and later breached by the bikers and hordes of the undead. Unfortunately, it was completely rebuilt, so that the giant glass doors are no longer there. Oddly, I'm wearing a different shirt than in the earlier pics, which can only mean we visited the mall on two different days. Can it be that I abused the missus' good will that grossly? I don't remember it that way, but I suppose it's possible.

And finally, we bid a fond farewell to George Romero's most well-known filming location! The sign at the exit to the parking lot is one of the only places I could still find the classic '70s Monroeville Mall logo, which had been replaced in most other places with a newer one.

As a reminder of the journey, I purchased a winter coat at the mall's Abercrombie & Fitch, which I wore with pride until it was stolen some years later at a house party I attended. I also got a backpack, which I'm glad to say I still own, although I feel a little too old to wear it comfortably in public these days.

Yes, life is all about the passage from one stage to the next, and as we returned from western Pennsylvania to our walk-up apartment in my parents' house in Brooklyn, the symbolism of the moment was palpable. Literally leaving the free-wheeling yet undeniably silly caprices of youth behind me, returning to the place where I hoped to start a family and embrace the more responsible but even more exciting challenges of parenthood, I was ready. I had gotten it out of my system.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's quite late and I really should retire. After all, the kids expect me to be ready first thing in the morning to watch Enter the Dragon, and practice our kung fu moves all over the house.


Mr. Karswell said...

This was a great multi-post Brian, I had fun reading it. You're lucky to live within driving distance of the mall... I love horror film location stuff. While living in LA our first apartment was pretty close to the original houses used in the first Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street films. I also wasn't far from the Ennis-Brown House which was used in the original House on Haunted Hill starring Vincent Price. But for one of my other favorite films ever, the first Phantasm, man I drove all the hell over the place, from Long Beach to the valley to Pasadena, though the one regrettable locale I never made it to was the main one: Dunsmuir House in Oakland (which is also where they filmed Burnt Offerings!)

Bla said...

I envy you, mate!

AndyDecker said...

This was a great post. I took it as an opportunity to re-watch the movie, and it hadn´t lost its impact.

And there are so many little things which would be unthinkable today. Not in the violence department - half an hour of say, SAW, is more graphic than most of DAWN - but in the attitude and the dialogue. Can you imagine seeing scenes like the one with the handicapped priest, the shooting of the kid-zombies or the discussion about the abortion in one of today´s major releases? And those marvellous actors - even if they were not that good at acting, they still had more "realness" than the whole cast of the TCM remake combined.

It was nice to see the original location and how little they have changed. I especially liked your photo of the lightpost in the parking lot :-) That was inspired.

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