An oral history of Night of the Living Dead

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In 1968, Night of the Living Dead made its world premiere at the Fulton Theater and put Pittsburgh on the film industry map. As the city prepares to celebrate Night’s 50th anniversary with a special screening and other events, City Paper spoke with three central cast and crew members about how they went from making commercials and industrial films for their small production company, Latent Image, to making one of the most influential horror films of all time.

The Beginning

Russell Streiner (co-producer/Johnny): George Romero was always our film spiritual guru. He had more experience than any of us. He moved here in 1958 to go to what was then Carnegie Tech. It was shortly after that, within a few months, that I first met him that we became friends. We worked on a couple small things together and decided we should form a company, the Latent Image.

By the mid-60s, we were successful enough to expand our staff to people like John Russo, my brother, Gary Streiner, and Vince Survinski, our business manager, all with the general idea that we’re going to be able to save up money and enough equipment to do our own feature.

Gary Streiner (sound engineer): Russ asked to come out to Schenley Park one Saturday afternoon to be an extra in a film they were shooting. That was my first real entrée to the film business, and I thought, “I really like this.”

I think I started at Latent Image in 1964. That would have been three or four years before we started working on Night. I graduated in 1965. I went to school for half of the day, and worked for the second half of the day. I never made it to college. I did this straight out of high school. Latent Image, Image Ten, and Night of the Living Dead – that was my first real job.

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