‘Uncle John is a Zombie’ to premiere at Oaks Theater

November 15, 2017 GMT

Screenwriter and director John “Jack” Russo has added another chapter to Western Pennsylvania’s zombie pop culture history.

That chapter will be on display Nov. 16 at the Oaks Theater in Oakmont for the world premiere of “My Uncle John is a Zombie!”

Russo, who grew up in Clairton and lives in Glassport, probably is best known as co-creator of the 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead” with George A. Romero.

The plot of his latest effort is fairly straightforward.

“My Uncle John is a Zombie!” centers around a zombie, named Uncle John, played by Russo. The zombie is kept in hiding by his niece and nephew for more than 40 years and suddenly becomes famous when the world discovers he can talk and reason as though he were alive. As his popularity grows, he is discovered by zombie hunters, who want to kidnap him and hunt him for sport.

“It’s very funny. It’s very entertaining and lampoons everything about the zombie genre,” Russo says. “That captures it pretty well. It’s very satirical. There are even songs in it. This film was just a joy to work on.”

The neice is played by Cy-Fi, an actress and deejay Russo met a few years back at Steel City Con in Monroeville.

“We just got to be friends and thought the way she costumed herself and everything else would look good in the movie,” he says.

The nephew, a zombie rights advocate, is played by Gary Vincent (“Mindhunter,” “What the Night Can Do”). Vincent co-produced the movie with Russo and Robert L. Lucas.

Filming started in the winter of 2015. Locations included Clairton Park in Clairton, the Elks Lodge in Braddock and the Comfort Inn and Extended Stay American in West Mifflin. It finished at the Days of the Dead convention and Wolfpack Studios in Los Angeles last year.

Russo says the movie has been well-received so far.

“We’ve had some screenings at the big horror fan conventions before it was finished, and the audiences have been cracking up,” he says. “You never know till it gets out there. It looks like it’s going to take off big. I’m really excited about the reception to the movie.”

It is unclear when the movie will be shown in more theaters or go to DVD. Russo says they are still working out deals for distribution. The film’s budget was around $500,000.

A cast and crew meet and greet will follow the premiere. A special red wine called Uncle John’s Brain Juice will be available at the theater as well.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.