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The Doctor of the Dead Visits Evans City PA (Part One of Three)

meavatarjessuJZDfxbFIt was a long-time goal finally achieved as we took the opportunity – after a weekend at GenCon 2016 in Indianapolis – to detour a bit north on the way home to Baltimore and stop in Evans City, Pennsylvania! As all zombie fans know, this is where the modern zombie was born, the home of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and the reinvention of the pop culture monster into an icon that would become a global phenomenon.

Many have made the pilgrimage to this unassuming small town, and in the time we had to devote to the journey, we were not only able to tour Kevin Kriess’ Living Dead Museum – a veritable treasure trove of information, artifacts, and memorabilia related to NIGHT, DAWN, DAY, and many other aspects of zombie genre history – but also take a quick trip over to the Evans City Cemetery itself, where the NIGHT team shot the immortal opening sequence with Johnny (Russ Streiner), Barbra (Judith O’Dea), and that herky-jerky Cemetery Ghoul (Bill Hinzman). We also checked out the city’s historical tribute to the film via a set of markers installed near the police station.

We actually visited Kevin and the museum first, but I’ll be putting together a post about that part of our trip soon. In the meantime, let’s jump ahead to the historical tribute and Evans City Cemetery. “You think I wanna blow [Tuesday] on a scene like this?” Definitely!

One final note before the story is taken over in the photo captions. Although I know many fans have re-created poses from the film in photos with the graves we also visited and depict here, that sort of behavior is frowned upon by the locals and authorities as disrespectful, and we had no intention of doing that. With that out of the way, get ready for a run of signage photos to kick things off!

Near the Evans City police station, a small historical tribute stands in a little patch of grass that commemorates the city's association with zombie history. Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
Near the Evans City police station, a small historical tribute stands in a little patch of grass that commemorates the city’s association with zombie history.
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
A collage of the four informational signs that ring the central historical marker.  Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
A collage of the four informational signs that ring the central historical marker.
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
When you approach Evans City Cemetery, this is the first sign you see. We're on the right track! Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
When you approach Evans City Cemetery, this is the first sign you see. We’re on the right track!
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
Wait a minute...a second sign? A bigger one in marble? Well OK then, if any cemetery deserves two signs, it's this one! Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
Wait a minute…a second sign? A bigger one in marble? Well OK then, if any cemetery deserves two signs, it’s this one!
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
The chapel, standing just to your left at the entrance to the cemetery when you drive in, recently benefitted from a restoration that left it in even better shape that it was in when NIGHT was shot there in 1968! (You'll see a glimpse of it in context from the film later in this article.) Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
The chapel, standing just to your left at the entrance to the cemetery when you drive in, recently benefitted from a restoration that left it in even better shape that it was in when NIGHT was shot there in 1968! (You’ll see a glimpse of it in context from the film later in this article.)
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
While I didn't want to disrespect any graves by posing with individual markers, I maintained a reasonably solemn smile and posed for a picture with the chapel. Then I just had to turn it black and white. Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
While I didn’t want to disrespect any graves by posing with individual markers, I maintained a reasonably solemn smile and posed for a picture with the chapel. Then I just had to turn it black and white.
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
Standing just a short distance from the chapel is the iconic "Nicholas Kramer" gravestone, seen here as we saw it that day and in 1968 with Judith O'Dea hanging on for dear life. Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
Standing just a short distance from the chapel is the iconic “Nicholas Kramer” gravestone, seen here as we saw it that day and in 1968 with Judith O’Dea hanging on for dear life.
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
I felt a particular chill when I turned around and saw these. And here we were, just where Johnny and Barbra were all those years ago. Note the tree on the right is now gone. Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
I felt a particular chill when I turned around and saw these. And here we were, just where Johnny and Barbra were all those years ago. Note the tree on the right is now gone.
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
Want to know what Barbra saw when she knelt by her father's grave? Here's the other side, actually the final resting place of Grace B. and George H. Cole. Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
Want to know what Barbra saw when she knelt by her father’s grave? Here’s the other side, actually the final resting place of Grace B. and George H. Cole.
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
To give you some context, the chapel is behind us and back to the right along a narrow road to the cemetery entrance, but here you can see the Kramer gravestone on the left in relation to the Blair/Cole graves. Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
To give you some context, the chapel is behind us and back to the right along a narrow road to the cemetery entrance, but here you can see the Kramer gravestone on the left in relation to the Blair/Cole graves.
Photo by Natalie B. Litofsky
It was time to hit the road, so we took a few last moments to take it all in. And just before we left, Natalie and I attempted what will soon be known as the World's Worst NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD Scene Re-Creation in History! Enjoy! Photo by Arnold T. Blumberg (selfie skills!)
It was time to hit the road, so we took a few last moments to take it all in. And just before we left, Natalie and I attempted what will soon be known as the World’s Worst NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD Scene Re-Creation in History! Enjoy!
Photo by Arnold T. Blumberg (selfie skills!)

It was a genuine honor to tread the same ground upon which cultural history was made, and to do so with respect to those that occupy it.

Join us next time as we step back to the beginning of that day and visit Kevin Kriess’ Living Dead Museum! In the meantime… “is there any of that candy left?”

Listen to our discussion on the undying classic, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, on episode 68 of DOCTOR OF THE DEAD!