Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

IN LAWRENCEVILLE, A LITTLE SHOP OF ZOMBIES [Corrected 11/22/12]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

IN LAWRENCEVILLE, A LITTLE SHOP OF ZOMBIES [Corrected 11/22/12]

Article excerpt

If "Breakfast at Tiffany's" meets "28 Days Later" sounds like a cool monster mash-up, then House of the Dead is the place for all your zombie shopping needs.

"Pittsburgh is the zombie capital of the world, and we thought it was time Pittsburgh celebrated that," said Chuck Cramer, co-owner of this little shop of horrors.

"We couldn't believe no one had opened one before."

Situated at Main and Butler streets in Lawrenceville, House of the Dead took shape fewer than two months ago as a bricks-and- morbid business. Mr. Cramer and co-owner Stu Neft, big fans of the genre, printed up some clever T-shirts and sold them from a pop-up stand over Labor Day weekend at the "Run for Your Lives" zombie- themed obstacle race in Butler County.

"Just from the reception there, we thought, 'This is going to work,' " Mr. Neft said.

They moved forth with setting up the permanent store, which features more than 200 apocalyptic varieties of books, clothing, snacks, videos and oddities.

On a shelf next to severed hands and munchy little brains crafted locally from chocolate hung a poster of the iconic Holly Golightly, zombie-fied. Another sign suggested "Forget about the dog -- beware of the zombie."

There were stacks of colorful T-shirts, various products patterned after the iconic "Keep Calm and Carry On" motto (in this case, "Keep Calm and Aim for the Head") as well as graphic novels, various makeup products including fake scars and something called "blood spray."

With its ghoulish front windows done up with zombie mannequins and blood, House of the Dead stood in stark contrast to its next- door neighbor, a charming country goods store named Dandelions.

"Diversity," Dandelions sales clerk Claudia Dickey said, smiling, "that's how Lawrenceville is."

The popularity of zombies has caught on big in recent years, bolstered by AMC's hit series "The Walking Dead" and movies such as "Zombieland."

At every blood-splattered turn, there seem to be Pittsburghers connected to these shambling creatures. Greg Nicotero is co- executive producer and special effects creator for "Walking Dead," and Tom Savini's special effects makeup handiwork is all over the gory Hollywood landscape. …

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