"It's dead in here," is not usually something positive to say about a bar scene, but that's exactly what the proprietors of The Original Oyster House, Pittsburgh's oldest bar, are going for with their upcoming transformation into a "zombie safe house" next month.
October will mark the 50th anniversary of the release of famed hometown director George Romero's birth-of-the-zombie-genre classic, Night of the Living Dead, and the western Pennsylvania roots of the film have inspired bar owner Jen Grippo, in conjunction with local haunted house makers ScareHouse, to transform the downtown Pittsburgh watering hole into "Zombie Den," made to look like a zombie safe house, on select nights starting October 3. (Let's hope "zombie den" is not to be interpreted literally: a safe house is no place to have zombies Netflix and chilling.)
John (aka Jack) Russo, co-writer of Night of the Living Dead, is an old family friend of the Grippo family, but still the presiding Grippo has a confession to make: "To be quite honest with you, I get very nervous with scary movies, so I've never actually watched it." (Okay, so maybe there should be some Netflix and chill zones for the faint of heart.) Her father, Lou Grippo, on the other hand, who was the bar's proprietor till his death just last year, was not only a horror fan but a participant. He appeared in Russo's 2004 movie, Heartstoppers, playing the role of a judge in a legal system in which none other than Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger himself) played a sheriff. Clearly the bar has horror cred to spare.
Rounding out the roster is Scott Simmons of ScareHouse, who tells SYFY WIRE that not only is the Zombie Den likely to have some Night of the Living Dead easter eggs, the haunted house the group runs about 15 minutes away will be full of hidden nods to Romero this year. And as for the bar, "our concept is that this is just the latest outbreak, and that anytime there's an outbreak, everyone goes to the 'Zombie Den' and waits it out and has a couple of drinks."
Sounds like a plan to us. No hopes as yet for a shuttle bus from the den to the Monroeville Mall (local site of Romero's later Dawn of the Dead), but you never know: There's still 19 shopping days left till October....