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The Living Dead Weekend 2023 Brought the Monroeville Mall Back to Life

Tuesday, June 13, 2023 | Events


Last weekend in Monroeville, Pennsylvania the Living Dead Weekend took place at the now infamous Monroeville Mall.

For fans of George R. Romero’s 1978 seminal zombie movie DAWN OF THE DEAD, this particular mall is a mecca. Though the mall itself has changed over the years (the ice skating rink which also served as a location for Flashdance is now long gone), the overall layout and marble pillars are still the same. Thanks to the Living Dead Museum located permanently within the mall and the now-annual Living Dead Weekend, the Monroeville Mall lives on as a destination for horror enthusiasts and Romero devotees.

The 2023 edition of the convention was billed as the largest assembly of the cast of DAWN OF THE DEAD since the film premiered 45 years ago. An anniversary year will readily bring together fans and professionals alike, and this year was no exception to that.

Panels ran hourly on all three days for nearly the entire time the mall was open for regular business hours. Right out in the middle of the atrium (where the iconic clock tower once stood) an stage and rows of seats appeared to give a space for those involved in the film to wax nostalgic and for fanatics to ask their burning questions. Panels ran the spectrum from Ken Foree to holding court, sans moderator, telling tales from the set and talking about coming projects he’ll be pitching to investors, to a quartet of zombie extras, giddy over the love they feel from the horror community and the corner they’ve carved into their hearts.

Ken Foree at 2023 Living Dead Weekend 2023

All of the cast and crew were available for autographs and chatting with attendees. Rather than being limited to specific times or halls, the tables for these meetings were scattered throughout four empty storefronts in the mall, nestled amongst tables of vendors selling everything from new restorations of nearly lost films to fine art featuring some of our favorite monsters.

Easily the most bespoke treat of the weekend was the tour of the mall, offered by superfan Lawrence Devincentz. Larry, as he asked us to call him, steps the large group of touring fans through the mall with an impressive attention to detail. Nearly shot-for-shot he points out each marble column he has spotted in the film and where it corresponds to a specific moment in the beloved film. He even takes the groups through the bowels of the mall into the unrenovated boiler room and control room where Peter (Foree) and Stephen (David Emge) find the keys and blueprints to the mall. Larry’s occasional reenactments of zombie attacks break up the information density of the tour and serve as a charming reminder that all of us had come together for our love of DAWN OF THE DEAD.

The penultimate panel of the weekend was focused on the George A. Romero Foundation by the director’s widow, Suzanne Desrocher-Romero. The foundation’s goals are twofold: to preserve Romero’s legacy and to empower independent filmmakers to make their own Romero-esque stamp onto the world today. The foundation has been responsible for establishing the archive of his papers at the University of Pittsburgh and the recent restoration of The Amusement Park.

The repeated conversation of the weekend, on the panel stage and amongst smaller chat circles, was an overwhelming affection for DAWN OF THE DEAD, but also of the horror community as a whole. While the horror crowd is not a universal monolith, the self-selected audience in the Monroeville Mall this June was an enthusiastic, welcoming, and endearing group to share the love of all things Romero.

Deirdre is a Chicago-based film critic and life-long horror fan. In addition to writing for RUE MORGUE, she also contributes to C-Ville Weekly,, and belongs to the Chicago Film Critics Association. She's got two black cats and wrote her Master's thesis on George Romero.