The Village of Angola is normally rather peaceful. On Saturday, however, a one-block section of Main Street oozed a chilling sense of tragedy.
Blood was spattered on the street near a two-car T-bone crash in front of the New Angola Theater. An ambulance and four other cars were found vacant between Center and Lake streets, veering off the road. The entire block resembled a wasteland, replete with overturned garbage cans, littered paper, wooden stakes, tires and a lonely red tricycle.
And, at the corner of Center and Main streets, 325 zombies were drinking it all in.
"This is by far the biggest set we've ever done," said Mark Mendola, assistant director of "The Final Night and Day," a horror film being shot by DefTone Pictures Studios.
DefTone, a Hamburg-based film production company, was responsible for the transformation of Main Street into Metzburgh, the setting for "The Final Night and Day."
Hundreds of people were packed just off the corner of Center and Main streets, near the Taste of the Midway convenience store. Most had arrived to be filmed as zombie extras for the film's crowd scenes. Starting at noon, they arrived at a registration tent where they were assigned as either a far-away, mid-range or "hero" zombie, signifying their proximity to the camera during filming.
Jennifer Byrne, 35, of Lackawanna, was assigned as a hero zombie. Heroes were closest to the cameras, and they required extensive makeup and costuming. Byrne was wearing a light blue dress, which made the boils and open sores on her skin stand out that much more.
Byrne was not much of a zombie fan herself, but knew members of Zombified Studios, the makeup artists for the filming who had transformed the interior of the Taste of the Midway into a zombie factory. Blue tarps were laid on the ground and two tables, which were stocked with silicon, flocking, blood formula and a six-way airbrush manifold for spray applications of makeup.
"They said they needed extras and I said, 'All right, I'm in,' " said Byrne. She blames various horror movies that she watched at a young age for her zombie reticence.
Although dark mottling makeup in green, brown and black was applied to the skin of every zombie, Byrne and most of the hero zombies got additional silicon prosthetics to resemble bites, scars and other facial features endemic to zombies.
Among the day's events was the "zombieraiser" being held at the Angola Fire Hall, just a few hundred feet away from the filming on Commercial Street. Many zombies rested there after their makeup, enjoying cake and snow cones. Proceeds from these sales and a Chinese auction were to go to the Angola Volunteer Fire Company.
David Farinacci, 45, a Mill Street resident of Angola, was also registered as a hero zombie. He heard about the filming project a few days ago through his girlfriend's son, who had applied to be a zombie extra.
As a village resident, Farinacci was heartened by the film project.
"This is something that promotes, community-wise, what Angola has to offer," Farinacci said.
Farinacci also credited Angola Mayor Howard "Hub" Frawley and Town of Evans Supervisor Francis J. Pordum for being open to projects such as "The Final Night and Day."
Tracy Dunlap, 42, and her husband, Dave Butler, 44, had been watching the filming from their porch on the corners of Main and Center streets since 10 a.m. Eventually, Dunlap had been talked into registering by one of the various event volunteers.
"It's exciting and a lot of fun," said Dunlap, who moved to Angola with her husband 2 1/2 years ago. "It brings our community together."
Dunlap and Butler said that their only concerns as residents were traffic problems, but aside from one nonzombie spectator who became sick from the heat, there were no serious issues.
Dale Ellison, 69, from Lake Street in Angola, was not there to be a zombie himself. ("I look like one without dressing up," he said.)
He was there to support his wife, Marilyn, who was part of a prefilming group run-through of a zombie march scene. A bride zombie, Marilyn was sporting the wedding dress she wore 25 years ago when she and Dale were married.
As Dale watched, his wife and about 50 other zombies were marching toward a small group of antagonizing DefTone filmmakers, hurling out directives to the stalking, groaning mass of the undead.
"Come on, you're hungry!" one said. "Get those brains," shouted another. "Get 'em!"