Night Of The Living Dead | 1968
As Johnny (Russell Streiner) mimics Boris Karloff’s trademark lisp with one of the most recognisable lines in film: "They’re coming to get you, Barbara”, writer-director George A Romero gives rise to a whole new horror genre (though the term ‘zombie’ is never used).
The low-budget, black-and-white semi-documentary style adds to the oppressive atmosphere, and the physicality is pushed to previously unexplored limits.
It was made, like most of Romero's output, around the area of his native Pittsburgh. The farmhouse, which has long since been demolished, stood near Evans City on Route 68, about 25 miles north of Pittsburgh.
The house’s cellar, though, was the basement of production company Latent Image, then on Carson Street, on Pittsburgh's South Side, and the TV studio was Karl Hardman's own studio, also in Pittsburgh (Karl Hardman played Harry Cooper).
The location you’ll really want to see, of course, is the cemetery of the opening scene. It’s Evans City Cemetery, Franklin Road, which you’ll find just to the south of the small town. Pioneer Road, which runs south from Main Street, becomes Franklin Road, and after about half a mile, the turn-off to the cemetery is on the left.
There’s a short drive through trees and, though Evans City is not a Gothic graveyard with extravagant statues, there’s a creepy atmosphere from its very isolation.
It’s a relatively small plot and, unlike the impression you get from the film, the chapel is right alongside the entrance. The site of Johnny and Barbara’s father’s grave is the stone of Grace and George H Cole almost opposite the chapel.
A little further away is the column marking the resting place of Nicholas Kramer, to which Barbara clings in terror.
When I visited, the chapel was disused and, unbelievably, there were plans to demolish this landmark (why is there no protected status for classic movie locations?). The good news is that Gary R Streiner’s campaign to save it was successful and the chapel has now been restored. Well done.