Afternoon of the living(room) dead

One afternoon in the 80’s my friend Amy asked if I’d like to accompany her on an errand to the apartment of zombie-film director George Romero.

We were in college in Pittsburgh and Amy was housesitting for the famous filmmaker, auteur of the zombie classic (and disguised social critique) Night of the Living Dead and the other Pittsburgh-based “Dead” movies. Naturally I jumped at the chance to see how he lived.

It was an attractive but not especially distinguished apartment in an inconspicuous apartment building not far from CMU. In almost all respects it could have been the home of anyone who could afford the rent on a modest couple of hundred extra square feet of space. But three things about it were notable:

  • The refrigerator was full of champagne, at least twenty bottles of the stuff.
  • His vast collection of movies on VHS filled two walls of the living room. I drooled with envy as I read the titles. (Over the years, inspired by Romero’s living room, I too amassed a respectable collection of movies on VHS, or “Crapvision” as James Cameron famously called it. Within a decade those tapes grew all but unwatchable as the recordings decayed. Today you couldn’t pay me to store one tenth of Romero’s bulky old movie collection in my house. Funny how things change.)
  • Several walls were cluttered with photos from the sets of his films. Many of those photos featured actors in full zombie makeup relaxing between takes. My favorite was of Romero’s young daughter Tina bouncing happily on the knee of one smiling, hideously decaying ghoul.

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