PITTSBURGH MADE: Children of the Living Dead (2001)

Produced by John Russo and intended to be a sequel to his 30th anniversary remix of Night of the Living Dead, this had a screenplay written by Karen Lee Wolf, the daughter of executive producer Joseph Wolf.

There’s some back and forth about why this movie turned out the way it did. Director Tor Ramsey said it was rough with both Russo and Wolf telling him to use their friends as crew members. Ramsey even sent an apology to Homepage of the Dead and said, “As for Russo, I was surprised to find him not quite the idiot internet sites make him out to be and certainly doesn’t derve to be fed to one of his own zombies as the prevailing winds usually concur. . He’s basically a decent guy who should be allowed nowhere near a movie set. Sadly I must confess his reputation as a hack is well deserved. He insisted I use his DP, a 63 year old farmer named Bill Hinzman who played the cemetery zombie in the original Night. Bill’s previous work was unwatchable garbage like FleshEater and Santa Claws and though the Wolf’s knew Hinzman’s work, they told me I had to use him anyway due to Russo. I also had to use Russo’s pal Bob Michelucci as my Art Director though he had never set foot on a movie set and his experience was limited to doing sets for a softcore porno mag called Scream Queens.” The rest of his rebuttal is scathing and man, this movie sounded like a nightmare.

Russo claimed that Joseph Wolf liked his script and was going to direct it before showing him his daughter’s work, which he said was horrible. He refers to this movie as The Living Abomination of Children.

As for Tom Savini, who acted and coordinated the stunts, he said that this was “the biggest piece-of-shit movie ever made. I think her father gave her that movie as a present and she didn’t know what the hell she was doing. The film shouldn’t even be on the shelves of video stores.” He also had all of his lines dubbed.

The story is about fourteen years after a zombie attack in a small Pennsylvania town — more on that in a bit — Matthew Michaels (Damien Luvara) is trying to open a car dealership. He doesn’t realize that he’s on the land where Abbott Hayes (A. Barrett Worland) has control of the living dead. Also: Abbott Hayes appears to be wearing a latex Nosferantu mask.

This movie also combines the two split living dead timelines with the first outbreak taking place in 1969 — Night of the Living Dead — and the second outbreak in 1986 — Return of the Living Dead — for the first and only time. Hey — where’s Rev. John Hicks from Russo’s remix? Why even do that if you’re not going to follow it up?

The most amazing thing is that this was shot where I get off the turnpike to go visit my mom, literally minutes away from where I grew up, right down from the wild Ann’s Thrift Shop where I got a DVD of El Topo for $2 and a beta of House On the Edge of the Park for 25 cents. Some of the action takes part in the parking lot of Danny’s Motel, some at Valhalla and because this is a busy road where the turnpiek cuts through, no traffic is stopped as zombies battle humans. You can also see the bookstore that screams ADULT under the old Holiday Inn where they found an old man drowned in the pool and he was in there for weeks and was bright white when they fished him out, but back to ADULT — called Human Beings I think now — it still smells like PineSol forever and we’d go there to get nitrous and one dude was too cheap to get a cracker for them and froze and broke out his teeth in the back of my van while I was driving. You can see Sims Bowling Alley and people going in to bowl in the middle of this undead battle but the best thing is that the other place that humans fight off flesheaters in now DJ’s Island — visit the web site and be amazed — the premiere tri-state area lifestyle club since 2002. Yes, DJ’s Island provides a safe, sexy and fun filled upscale nightclub atmosphere for like-minded members to enjoy and the amenities include an elegant carving station every club night, featuring chef selection, soup, salad and one alternate item. This is in my home town. My home town is Twin Peaks without the logging to make up for the mills closing. This section is techncially Beaver Falls, but really, it’s Big Beaver and if you don’t think a swinger club in a town called Big Beaver isn’t hilarious, you really aren’t on my level.

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