Every once in a while, I take the time to reflect on a piece or series of pieces that I wrote. Back when I finished my script for THE BURNING, I reflected on it and came to some conclusions. I then wrote up my reflections for Death Ensemble. They started off with this paragraph: “A crucial part of the writing process takes place well after the last word’s been put to the page. A writer formulates an idea; writes the piece; and revises it. Once that’s all been done, any writer worth his salt reflects on his piece. He asks himself question, derives opinions, and truly understands what he wrote and why he wrote it in the first place.” Having just inducted the locations from George Romero’s original Dead trilogy, I thought this would be a nice time to reflect, and share those reflections with you. Here’s what I came up with.
Anything to support and promote Gary Streiner’s Living Dead Festival—It’s a joy of mine that Gary Streiner is a personal friend. Like most of the Romero folk I’ve met, Gary is generous with his time and appreciates the fans. So when I heard he was reviving the LDF, I knew I could help promote and support it by way of DE. I pondered for a while how to do this, and then it hit me: induct some part of the Dead trilogy into the Hell of Fame. It’s the most prestigious honor an entity can garner on the site. I originally considered inducting Gary himself, but I thought he might be embarrassed by the attention; it’s never about him, but all about the LDF. As the Evans City Cemetery is such a grand part of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and the Save the Chapel initiative, that led me to think geography.
Inducting geographical locations into the HOF was something new—When writing, I always strive to find new ways to challenge myself. Before I inducted the Monroeville Mall from DAWN OF THE DEAD, I’d never inducted a location. At first, I thought the idea might be a bit too weird. But then I considered the Hell of Fame as an actual hall. I could imagine a world map, computer generated on a screen, with red dots marking the locations: Skull Island, Tromaville, and the trio of Romero locations. The map would tell visitors which wing of Hell they would enter to find what they sought. That image made it real for me, and it was easy to write them after that.
Inducting locations isn’t so weird— …when one considers I inducted the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Hey, I’ve never been a traditionalist.
Visiting helps, but I can go without if a director bails on me—I had a distinct advantage in writing about the Monroeville Mall and Evans City: I’d been to both. I could color the inductions with personal experience and memories. So I could mention the deer we hit that wrecked X’s uncle Frank’s car that drove us right up to the front of the mall. I could set the stage for my feelings about the Evans City Cemetery on film by mentioning my first LDF. I couldn’t do the same for the Wampum Mines, which I’ve never visited. But hey, I could include the story of how Scott Goldberg was supposed to introduce me to the place, but bailed on me. Just as good, I think.
That old Romero feeling— I’d swore off writing about Romero a while back, and I’m sick to living death with zombie movies. But writing about the trio of locations reminded me just how much I love the Dead trilogy. They became one more way for me to honor those films and the visionary behind them. And that’s never a bad thing.
Gearing up— The best part of writing the three inductions was that it jazzed me up for what’s coming in a few weeks from now. I’ve been a restaurant manager for 11 months now, and I haven’t had a vacation in that time. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for my nervous breakdown, with all the work I’ve put in. Clearly, I need some time away. I’ve chosen to spend that time wrapped around the LDF. I hope to get a bunch of new interviews for DE, and hey, I can pray for five minutes with Romero, because he’ll be there. I can meet and greet new friends from the Romero family, and help out Gary Streiner, who’s worthy of being a Hell of Famer if ever there was one. And hey, I’m interested to see if Taso Stavrakis will wear the same top hat he wore at Chiller a few years ago when I met him.
So there are my reflections on inducting three key locations into the Hell of Fame. It was an intriguing way to stretch my writing, and if it gets a few more live bodies to the LDF, then I can only reflect back on all this as a success.