a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bringing the dead to life

The city of Monessen would be dead without its zombies. Its creatures are living students, however, who are learning how to apply gory makeup and mold together robotic aliens in the style of low-budget creep movies. They study at Douglas Education Center, which was a near-extinct business school before sci-fi film icon Tom Savini joined its faculty. The award-winning special effects makeup artist from Pittsburgh attracts hundreds of students from across the United States to his school in the small city in Westmoreland County, Pa., whose economy has suffered greatly since Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. permanently idled a steel mill there in the 1980s. Today, the Douglas school is the largest employer in Monessen where goth students have replaced blue-collar workers on the sidewalks. Over the past week, they have been filming a cheap movie about the walking dead on the crusty Donora-Webster Bridge for a class project. Heads were turning in more ways than one when characters like Mike Meeker of Ohio, shown above, showed up on the set.

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