Episode #215 — Living Dead Tours with Lawrence DeVincentz

It’s about that time. There’s a chill in the air and the sun sets earlier every day. Start foraging in the back of your closet to look for sweaters — giving them the sniff test to see if a trip to the dry cleaner is really necessary, even though you haven’t washed them since last year. Then head out to the local cider mill, so you can finally have a small plastic cup of apple cider, eat a fresh doughnut, and run from all of the bees you forgot hang around there. Bees love those mashed apples!

If you prefer to ward off the cold air inside, you can always shop for new, non-stinky sweaters at your local mall. Why not make a day of it? Start off with a giant pretzel from Auntie Anne’s. Just make sure it’s freshly baked. Next, meander over to The Sharper Image for a chair massage and then it’s off to Claire’s to get your ears pierced. Might we suggest Hot Topic next for a Halloween Care Bear graphic tee? (Called that because the shirt contains a graphic — not because the Care Bears are doing anything graphic.) Of course, you’re going to need some rubber bracelets to go with that shirt, so Merry-Go-Round should be your next stop. Waldenbooks has you covered for the latest Anne Rice novel, then bop on over to Camelot Music to buy blank cassette tapes to record Why? The Podcast every week. (Just a suggestion.)

Definitely stop at Kinney Shoes for a pair of Reeboks and then get some smoked sausage at the Hickory Farms stand. For some reason we feel you probably need good running shoes and protein fuel in case something happens. Okay, you’ve finally made it to JCPenney and are on the lookout for some nice fall sweaters — maybe something in an argyle. That was weird; did you see something out of the corner of your eye? Why are those people blocking the entrance to the store, and why are the people on the other side moaning, groaning, and decaying before your very eyes?

Well, great! It seems you’ve found yourself in the middle of some sort of zombie outbreak. Luckily, you’re right where you need to be — in a suburban mall. Even more luckily, you’ve taped this week’s episode on your blank cassette and are currently listening to it on your Walkman. Our guest is Lawrence DeVincentz, an expert on all things related to George A. Romero films — including the mall where 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead” was filmed. If there’s anyone who can walk you through a zombie invasion at a mall, it’s him!

When we say Lawrence is an expert, we don’t mean that he just points to different stores at the Monroeville Mall in Pennsylvania, where “Dawn of the Dead” was filmed, and says, “that’s where a zombie ate someone’s face.” He studied old maps of the mall, compared them to the current-day layout, and knows exactly where each scene happened. You can’t stump him with movie trivia about air ducts or janitorial closets. Lawrence knows what’s what, which is why his Living Dead tours are so popular. But you can only take the tours during annual The Living Dead weekends, so plan your visit ahead of time!

Lawrence filled us in on how he got so involved in the world of George A. Romero, including whether he has ever met the famous director. He also has an extensive memorabilia collection and a lot of insight about what makes the Living Dead movies so appealing to generations of fans. Even if zombies are not your thing, you’ll find his perspective on the Living Dead Weekend energizing and engaging. (The opposite of how you’ll find a zombie’s perspective.) For more information on Lawrence, the Living Dead tours, and the Living Dead Weekend, check out the Living Dead Weekend website. And for more information on indoor, suburban malls, visit the mid ‘70s through the mid ‘90s.


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