As a community horror fans are not only the best and brightest but also the most giving. We know it’s a trying time of the year, but it’s also time to bring your attention to one hell of a good cause.
As per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Forty-four years ago, Gary Streiner was a 17-year-old kid standing in front of a ramshackle chapel building in an Evans City cemetery, helping to film a movie called “Night of the Living Dead.” These days, Mr. Streiner still visits that spot in the cemetery, in front of the same ramshackle chapel. But now, he’s the leader of a growing band of horror fans hoping to preserve the chapel building as a piece of movie history.
In September, the Evans City Cemetery Association granted Mr. Streiner’s request to try to save the structure, giving him one year to raise the estimated $50,000 required to repair the chapel — the backdrop for Johnny (played by Mr. Streiner’s brother, Russ) to utter the iconic line “They’re coming to get you, Barbra,” in the opening minutes of the film.
The effort has drawn nearly 2,000 people to a Facebook page, where they share and execute fundraising projects including T-shirt and poster sales, customized zombie portraits and sales of pieces of the decaying chapel roof. About two months into the campaign, they’ve raised nearly $7,000.
“People just want to be a part of this,” said Mr. Streiner. “It’s cinematic history.”
Ron Volz, president of the cemetery association, said board members wish Mr. Streiner luck but said that if the effort falls short, they will have no choice but to tear down the chapel. He acknowledged its iconic cinematic status, noting the chapel is the last remaining building featured in the zombie classic.
“We have people in town who want to keep it, but we need the money to restore it. He’s come up with great ideas to raise money, but 50 grand is going to be tough to raise, I think,” Mr. Volz said. “But if he gets zombies from all over the United States to contribute … he can raise it. It will be a great improvement over what’s standing there now.”
The cemetery association has historically been reluctant to allow official celebrations of “Night of the Living Dead” out of concern for desecration of graves but is now on board with the fundraising effort.
Mr. Streiner said that he hopes to restore the chapel just as it always was — no running water, no electricity, no gas hookup, just a potbellied stove. He hopes that it can be rented out for use at events such as zombie-themed weddings or graduation parties and maybe even function as a mini-museum.
Mr. Streiner considers himself blown away by the response from fans and the fundraising success thus far. Fundraising efforts on the group’s website, Fix the Chapel, are just getting under way.
Posters designed by one Facebook group member are already for sale online, and Mr. Streiner expects T-shirts to be available soon — in time for the holiday season. A movie screening and benefit will be held in San Francisco in early December; there will be appearances on Internet radio shows.
“In 20 years, people will see that this group of really hard-core fans came to the rescue,” Mr. Streiner said.
There are also plans to sell merchandise in the spring at various horror conventions, and Mr. Streiner is awaiting a letter from movie director George Romero as an official fundraising kickoff.
There you have it, kids. How about we all make a little history together? Visit Fix the Chapel and get busy!
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