Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bridge or Tunnel: What's the best way for Pittsburgh to honor "Dawn of the Dead"?

Pittsburghers love bridges ... and zombies. So it's not surprising that when bigwigs at Monroeville Mall - filming site of George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" - announced plans to remove a footbridge seen in the iconic movie, fans cried foul and launched an online petition to save it.
While I think Monroeville Mall has dropped the  brain when it comes to commemorating its role in zombie movie history, I don't blame officials for wanting a clean slate. The shopping center - one of the first of its kind in the nation - has been living a PR nightmare the last few months due to violence that erupted there. Celebrating a flick that features flesh-eaters and machete-wielding bikers doesn't help its new, safety-first image...at least not in the eyes of wary shoppers.
Besides, the mall is, ahem, undertaking a multi-million dollar renovation project. That 40-year-old bridge would look better over a Koi pond outside of a Benihana...not inside a modern temple of capitalism.
I'm a "Dawn" fanatic and a frequent mall visitor who experiences a geeky thrill each time I walk through the door, but, honestly, that bridge doesn't hold much significance for me. The building's facade which, admittedly, has changed quite a bit since Romero filmed his masterpiece there in 1978, still sends chills up my spine.

As for interior, the most symbolic locale for me has always been the hallway to the survivors' hideout. After zombified Flyboy emerges from the elevator, he leads his fellow corpses on a shambling charge down that corridor, THROUGH a wall, up the stairs and into the makeshift love shack he shared with Fran and 2 million cans of Spam. Perhaps mall officials could commission an artist to paint a mural along that tunnel featuring Stephen and his sad parade of undead friends.

It's out-of-the-way enough so people (like my mom) who hate horror films, don't have see blood and guts while they're on their way to Pottery Barn, but rabid fans can snap selfies in front of an awesome painting.

But, considering how unwilling Monroeville Mall has been to play up its zombie heritage, the dead will walk the Earth before that happens.

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