No Grave Duty For Living Dead Fans

A member of the cemetery committee told borough council last week that followers of a “cult, B movie” should not be allowed to desecrate the sanctity of the final resting place of deceased residents.
John West told the council that the cemetery, which was founded in the early 1800s, should be respected as a place where families can go to remember their loved ones in a peaceful setting.West said the Evans City Cemetery Authority opposes any activity by “Night of the Living Dead” fans that would violate the sanctity of the cemetery, which is off Franklin Road southwest of the borough.
The cemetery is featured in the opening scene of “Night of the Living Dead,” a movie that was produced in 1968 by George Romero and shot in and around the borough.The cemetery houses a small two-story chapel that is the only physical item remaining from the movie. Many fans of the movie, which has developed a cult following over the years, visit the cemetery. Gary Streiner, the movie’s sound engineer, has organized a handful of successful Living Dead festivals since 2008. He defended the fans of the movie, which introduced undead ghouls, now known as zombies, to American film and television. “I wish you could take the horror out of the equation because these are some of the genuinely most wonderful people you would ever want to meet,” Streiner told council after West spoke. “Nobody wants to desecrate anything.” Council President Lee Dyer said a committee comprised of two council members, Streiner and Kevin Kreiss, who owns the Night of the Living Dead Museum on Main Street, plus a representative from the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau should be formed to plan an event for the summer. Jack Cohen, president of the tourism bureau, said last month that the bureau would like to help promote Evans City as the home of the “Night of the Living Dead.”  But when Cohen mentioned the possibility of taking buses of festivalgoers to the cemetery, the cemetery committee hit the brakes.  Ron Volz, president of the cemetery committee, said on Monday that the seven-person board does not want buses of revelers, fans dressed as ghouls, ghoul-themed weddings, or a movie-themed gift shop at the cemetery.
“It’s not that we don’t want (the notoriety from the movie,)” Volz said. “We want to control it. We don’t want (the cemetery) turned into a circus.” Dyer said any upcoming “Night of the Living Dead” festival should be carefully planned to determine the best way to honor the movie’s heritage while respecting the cemetery.  “We need to walk before we try to run,” Dyer said.
No action was taken by the council last week.