Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Sun Rises on Day of the Dead

Following the cult-like status of his previous zombie films (Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead), George A. Romero set out in 1984 to make the third film in the original trilogy. Although it had a limited release just weeks earlier, Day of the Dead zombie-walked into a much wider release on this day in 1985. Romero had originally intended to make a high budget zombie film and he had arranged around seven million in financing. However, the budget was sliced in half after a dispute arose between the financiers and Romero when the latter insisted that the film be released unrated, rather than submit it to the Motion Pictures Association of America and receive a probable 'X' rating.

Although the film utilized locations in both Pennsylvania (the ol' stomping grounds in former Romero zombie films) and Florida, the major set piece of Day of the Dead was an underground military facility where the humans could live in safety from the zombie apocalypse outside. In reality, the base was a former limestone mine (known as the Wampum Mine in Wampum, Pennsylvania) that had been converted into an underground storage facility shortly after World War II. Today, the facility still serves in that capacity and is now known as the Gateway Commerce Center. While the inside may be locked off to tourists interested in its zombie-lore past, it still manages to hold a special place in the pantheons of the Romero's Dead films.

Read more on the Wampum Mine.

-Casey H.

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