I’ve Come to Get You, Barbra.

31 07 2012

Evans City Cemetery entrance (July 21st, 2012)

“They ought to make the day the time changes the first day of summer.” The first line of dialogue from George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. I had almost instinctively said them as I parked my car across the way from the boarded-up chapel just past the entrance of Evans City Cemetery. It would have been silly to say them since Johnny was not in the car with me, I was not Barbra, and I was not visiting the cemetery to put a wreath on my deceased father’s grave.

I can’t say for sure when I first saw Romero’s original Dead film. I vaguely remember watching it on the small television in my bedroom when I was young and adjusting the rabbit ears on top of the set to try and get a better picture. I’d be willing to bet it was on one of those late-night “Offbeat Cinema”-type shows. Without getting into the merits, symbolism, and overall genius of the film that have cemented it into horror cinema history, we’ll just say that it remains not only one of my favorite horror films of all time but one of my favorite films, in general, of all time.

Barbra and Johnny arrive at the cemetery (1968)

I doubt I speak for only myself when I say that whenever one visits an old shooting location from a film they know inside and out, the feeling of déjà vu can’t be helped.

Perhaps the most iconic landmark of the film’s opening sequence is the cemetery chapel which still stands today. This building can be seen when Johnny and Barbra park their car and afterwards when Barbra is attacked by the “cemetery ghoul.” With the help of my ever-faithful friend, Google, I discovered that the chapel was built in the 1920s and records show it being used only once for a memorial service in November 1928. After falling into disrepair for decades, the chapel is slated for demolition if funds cannot be raised by October 2012 for structural repairs.

Evans City Cemetery chapel (July 21st, 2012)

Memorable grave markers as seen in the film are relatively easy to find from the chapel as most are in the area almost directly across from the building. The most readily recognizable family marker is inscribed with the name “Blair.” This headstone sits next to the fictional grave of Johnny and Barbra’s father and is also the same gravestone that Johnny clutches the top of during the infamous “They’re coming to get you, Barbra” scene. 

While facing the chapel from the Blair plot, if you turn to roughly 5 o’clock (your clock), you will be facing in the general direction where the “cemetery ghoul” first appears, shambling towards the siblings.

Barbra watches Johnny’s final moments

Also in this same area is a tall, white marker bearing the name Nicholas Kramer. This is the spot from which Barbra watches Johnny wrestle with the “cemetery ghoul.” To round-up this scene, the stone on which he meets his end is that of Clyde Lewis Myers and is within sight of the Kramer plot.

With Evans City Cemetery checked off my bucket list of filming locations that I want to visit, what comes next? Perhaps a California adventure to scope out Stevie Wayne’s lighthouse from The Fog, duck in cover at Annie Hayworth’s schoolhouse from The Birds, or enjoy brunch at Winkie’s from Mulholland Drive.

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