Carnegie Mellon University

Image of Barbara Anderson

October 25, 2017

Anderson Recalls History of Horror

By Shannon Riffe

Shannon Riffe
  • University Libraries
  • 412-268-7260

Carnegie Mellon University's Barbara Anderson designed costumes in six George Romero films, but one moment stands out.

During the filming of the anthology movie "Creepshow," Anderson, a School of Drama professor emeritus, stood in a men's bathroom covering an actor with an alien green grass while being surrounded by scurrying cockroaches. The actor and film's author was Stephen King.

"I was shaving his chest to make paths to glue on the green stuff," Anderson said. "It was such a surreal time."

The anecdote is one of many captured by Assistant Archivist Kate Barbera in a wide-ranging interview for the University Archives' Oral History Program. During the interview, Anderson discusses her more than 40 years of service to the School of Drama and recounts her experiences working with Romero, the father of the zombie film genre. Romero, a CMU alumnus who attended classes in the 1960s and received his degree in 1983, died on July 16 He received a Walk of Fame star posthumously on Oct. 25 in Hollywood.

The audio recording will be shared on the University Libraries blogs Nov. 2, as the final installment in a series of posts that began Oct. 23, titled "Legacy of the Dead." It accompanies an exhibit on view in the Hunt Library lobby through Nov. 2, featuring selected items from Anderson's collection.

Among the items on display is a photo of Romero, King and Anderson's late husband, Cletus, a former CMU design professor and production designer on many Romero films. Viewers can see the poster for "Creepshow," a film that has a special connection to CMU. In addition to featuring the work of the Andersons, the film starred alumnus Ted Danson, included the special effects work of alumnus Tom Savini and was partially filmed in Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall.

"Until the day he died Romero was a lover of cinema whose stories and imagery were sometimes at odds with the status quo, but through creative innovation and a strong sense of individuality, he was able to create something special," said Andrew Prisbylla, library associate for Ordering, who coordinated the blogs and exhibit. "With 'Legacy of the Dead' we hope the CMU community will appreciate Romero's unique voice and the wealth of creativity his collaborators Cletus and Barbara Anderson brought to campus."