The zombie classic “Night of the Living Dead,” which celebrated its 50th anniversary Oct. 4, was displayed on a giant inflatable movie screen to a crowd of friends, family and furry companions at Sunnyside Cemetery on a chilly Saturday evening.
The cemetery in Long Beach, hosted a crowd of horror film fanatics, some in skeleton and zombie costumes, who sat in lawn chairs and blankets among the gravestones.
“It’s the first real zombie film; it’s a classic,” said Ryan Parks, who came with his wife Saundra Parks. “It’s Halloween time; it’s a cemetery. It’s a really cool vibe if you’re into it, which I am.”
Ryan brought Saundra, who isn’t fond of scary movies, to watch the film for the first time. He insisted that because the movie was made so long ago, it would not be too scary.
“We were at the last [movie] they did, “The Monster Squad,” and it was a fantastic time,” Ryan said. “We had so much fun last time and we were able to bring our dogs and the drinks, and everybody was really cool.”
Festival Obscura, co-founded by Ryan Hughes and Martin Svab, hosted the event in order to raise funds for the 112-year-old cemetery. Sunnyside has struggled financially since an embezzlement scandal in the ‘90s and continues to look for ways to raise funds to keep from shutting down.
“[Martin and I] approached them,” Hughes said. “We knew how bad the situation was here and we really wanted to do a big festival.”
Festival Obscura has fundraised for the cemetery before. “A Celebration at Sunnyside Cemetery,” which Festival Obscura presented in June, brought together local breweries, wineries and cideries, including local historians, macabre artists and morticians to raise around $42,000 for the cemetery.
“It’s so cool being here,” said Jacquie Prebich, who was selling prints for her daughter’s art business, Bat in your Belfry. “I mean, it’s a good cause, and it’s fun. ‘Night of the Living dead’ in the cemetery is pretty cool.”
As the sun set, attendees took their seats on graves or rested against the tombstones. Movie watchers applauded as the familiar and frightening string section of “Driveway to the Cemetery” began, signaling the start of the movie. No one could pass the opportunity to laugh at the film’s iconic line: “They’re coming to get you, Barbara.” The movie ended to enthusiastic cheers and clapping.
Brothers River and Skyler Aimerito came out to watch the movie and shared their appreciation for the cemetery gatherings.
“I always enjoy the cemetery movies, usually because they’re not movies about zombies,” said River. “I like old-fashioned, old-timey horror movies but … zombies scare the crap out of me. So if it’s a not a zombie movie, I’m always open.”
However, Skyler is more keen on the zombie film genre.
“I like movies in the cemetery because … it adds an extra feel to [the movie],” Skyler said. “Even if it doesn’t directly have to do with a cemetery, it’s like ‘Ooh! It’s all spooky,’ and it sets a mood.”