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Horror icon George A. Romero's second film in his 'Living Dead' series, 'Dawn of the Dead,' exposed our addiction to material things by setting the story inside a giant shopping mall in rural Pennsylvania. A marvel to audiences for 1978 (it even had a skating rink!), the Monroeville Mall location would quickly become a destination for horror fanatics.

At the heart of the story are four people who escape Philadelphia, now completely overcome by flesh-eating zombies. Flying in a helicopter in hopes of finding any humans who've survived, they come across an abandoned shopping mall and realize they have everything they need there to survive. But gradually the zombies in the area converge on the mall, leading to the famous line: "This was an important place in their lives."

Horror icon George A. Romero's second film in his 'Living Dead' series, 'Dawn of the Dead,' exposed our addiction to material things by setting the story inside a giant shopping mall in rural Pennsylvania. A marvel to audiences for 1978 (it even had a skating rink!), the Monroeville Mall location would quickly become a destination for horror fanatics.

At the heart of the story are four people who escape Philadelphia, now completely overcome by flesh-eating zombies. Flying in a helicopter in hopes of finding any humans who've survived, they come across an abandoned shopping mall and realize they have everything they need there to survive. But gradually the zombies in the area converge on the mall, leading to the famous line: "This was an important place in their lives."

Location as Character: Six years after making the landmark 'Night of the Living Dead,' Romero was invited by a friend to walk through the Monroeville Mall, which at the time was one of the largest indoor malls in the country. While exploring its gluttony of stores and back rooms, Romero's friend remarked that someone would be able to survive in the mall if a disaster were to happen. Romero instantly came up with the story of 'Dawn' and its commentary on consumerism.

Production took place in the Monroeville Mall during closing hours in the winter of 1977. With shooting going on most nights until six in the morning, it led to a lot of off-time for the actors playing the retail-hungry zombies. Many would spend their down time at the Brown Derby Pub, which the main characters run by often in the film. The make-up/effects artist for the film Tom Savini (who also starred as one of the bikers) recalls in the DVD commentary that a few inebriated zombies drove around the mall in a golf cart and caused some damage to a marble pillar in the process. Others would take pictures in the photo booth and leave images of their pale, mangled faces around the booth for the next day's patrons.

Historical Significance: Since filming ended, the Monroeville Mall has become a horror landmark. Every October, fans of all things zombie head to the mall to partake in "Walk of the Dead," which is part of the horror convention, Zombie Fest. In 2006, the walk set a Guinness World Record for the largest zombie walk with 894 participants (that record has been broken numerous times since, including earlier this month in Seattle where close to 5,000 "zombies" participated).

Many of the stores that were in the mall during filming left long ago (even the ice rink); however, there is a museum dedicated to the film inside the mall. Monroeville Zombies is located on the lower level of the mall inside the Time and Space Store. There you can find memorabilia from the film, a "Maul of Fame," a miniature model of the 1978 mall layout and, soon to come, a guided tour of the mall highlighting all of the 'Dawn' locations. The mall has also been featured in 'Flashdance' and 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno.'

Directions:
The Monroeville Mall is located on Business Route 22, Monroeville, Pennsylvania. It's 20 minutes east of Pittsburgh taking I-376 and five hours west of Philadelphia via I-76.

Visitor's Info: Mall hours are Monday - Saturday, 10AM - 9PM; Sunday, noon 6PM.