Pittsburgh has many fine qualities and a reputation that precedes it: outstanding hockey team, steel mills, and Primanti’s sandwiches, famous the world over.

What most people don’t know about Pittsburgh is its other, dare I say, finest quality.  It’s the birthplace of zombie movies.  In 1985, George Romero and his crew descended on Beaver County, turning its streets into nightmares and its residents into actors and extras.

We at the Z are fortunate enough to be able to share an exclusive behind-the-scenes tale about the making of Day Of The Dead.  How did we get so lucky?  Because the Z is everywhere, even before we existed.  Our staffer, Mallory Campbell, is a Pittsburgh native from a long line of Pittsburgh natives.  One such person is her uncle Mark Tierno.  Today, Mark gave his niece an exclusive peek into the mind of George Romero, as well as the birth of a zombie nation.

“George Romero was wonderful to work with first and foremost because he was an actor’s director. He made the set ‘actor centric’ by not forcing his vision onto the drama of a scene. He always let it flow. For example, I was a featured zombie in Day of the Dead and in one scene where my character is chained to a laboratory wall and flips a table over, Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty) admonishes me for my actions, turning out the lights. Because the film examined the theme of human traits in zombies, I wanted a semi-human reaction that wasn’t included in his script as written, so I asked George’s permission to improvise. I whimpered and gave a fearful look when the lights went out and the scene was used as I had done it.”

-Mark Tierno (AKA “Beef Treats,” the zombie)

A Polaroid of Uncle Mark on the set of Day of the Dead in 1985*


About Author

Lawyer, literary agent, book packager, film producer, writer, New Yorker. Likes long walks on the beach and little dogs. Hates mean people and when the pharmacy runs out of Klonopin.

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