This story was originally published on Oct. 11, 2021. It was updated on Oct. 4, 2022.
It’s time to to let your inner trick-or-treater go wild. Pittsburgh, with its ties to Hollywood horror history, is a great place to celebrate the season. Stock up on horrific gifts, drink a pumpkin beer, visit a haunted locale, stroll through a cemetery or host a Steel City-themed monster movie marathon in your own home.
1. Shopping maul
When Robert Woods was a kid he’d turn his G.I. Joes into makeshift monsters. Horror toys were hard to come by in the ‘80s, so he had to improvise.
It’d be a crime if a new generation of slasher fans had to go without them, so Woods, a licensed attorney, opened Time Bomb Toys. It’s a place where you can stock up on masks, action figures, clothing, creepy collectibles and haunted home furnishings.
The company started in 2015 as an online business that hit up horror conventions around the country. Time Bomb Toys commercials were even featured during “The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs” on Shudder.
The brick-and-mortar location debuted in 2018. There, Woods communes with fellow fright fans while a constant loop of horror-themed videos play on the TV.
Despite the gory inventory, Time Bomb Toys is a family-friendly business. Sometimes Woods’ daughter will drop by to check out the latest Funko Pops. It’s a great place to introduce boys and ghouls to the genre without breaking the R-rated movie rule.
Before you get sick on Halloween candy, head to The Monster Mart and say “What’s up(chuck)!” to Richie Vomit.
In May, the veteran tattoo artist moved to Pittsburgh from Sioux City, Iowa. A lifelong horror fan who directed the low-budget slasher “Farmlands,” Vomit can be found slinging ink in Oakmont. The tat shop doubles as a spooky emporium filled with weird wares. Vomit’s wife, Heidi, will ring up your order and you might see the couple’s teenage daughter painting another zombie-themed mural on the wall.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect Halloween gift or you want a souvenir that you can take to the grave, you’re likely to scream at The Monster Mart.
Not only can you buy cool zombie-themed merch at Monroeville Mall you can also take a self-guided tour through undead history.
The Living Dead Museum & Gift Shop is located inside the shopping center where director George Romero filmed 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead.” Owner Kevin Kriess is an expert on the flesh-eating creatures and their local ties to Hollywood legend.
For a nominal fee, you can shamble through the museum, a multi-room exhibit that explores the zombie’s slow rise to stardom through screen-worn costumes, props, scripts and other artifacts. Once you’ve graduated from ghoul school, take a bite out of the merchandise, including T-shirts, novelty items and autographed posters.
Shop until you drop … then make like a zombie and get back up again.
2. Sink your teeth into specialty foods
It’s the Great Gnocchi Pumpkin Bowl, Charlie Brown!
Through the fall season, DiAnoia’s Eatery is serving its signature seasonal comfort food. They’re available for dine-in and takeout.
Say trick-or-treat to a freshly roasted pumpkin filled with house-made potato gnocchi in a pumpkin cream sauce made with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, mozzarella, parmesan and pecorino cheese, and fresh basil.
“It’s a fun Halloween twist on our Gnocchi Sorrentina Bread Bowl, a year-round favorite at the restaurant,” says chef and co-owner Dave Anoia. “The entire pumpkin ‘bowl’ is edible, so you can scrape bits of roast pumpkin from the sides to enjoy with each bite of gnocchi.”
If you have a gargantuan hunger, go to any Caliente Pizza location and order a Godzilla, a pie topped with pepperoni, mushrooms, Italian sausage, green peppers, onions and black olives. Pair it with the regional chain’s new house brew, Hazy Dough Dazy. The New England IPA is 5.3 percent ABV, and is on tap at all locations. A nice, cold pint can soothe the savage beast.
Like a monster that won’t die in a horror movie, summer keeps rearing its ugly head. Might as well cool off with some Halloween sugar cookie i-scream.
Frightening foodstuffs aren’t just for late-night binges. Start your day with a stack of pumpkin pancakes and a bottomless cup of coffee at the Dor-Stop and unleash the caffiend inside of you!
3. Have a stiff drink
Wigle Whiskey is preparing you for the zombie apocalypse with a free screening of “Night of the Living Dead,” complete with zombie trivia and a free sample of their Hopped Zombie whiskey. Take home some free swag if you crush the competition at trivia. RSVP for free to the event on Thursday, Oct. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m.
The folks at Jekyll & Hyde celebrate Halloween 365 days a year. For more than a quarter-century, the hole-in-the-wall haunt’s been scaring up business with its spooky décor and “Evil Drinks.” Slay the competition during Thursday night karaoke or just sit and sip your Spider Cider, a to-die-for potion made with Captain Morgan Rum and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky.
Located a block from Allegheny Cemetery, The Abbey is a former funeral home that still possesses a ghostly ambiance. Belly up to The Parlour Bar and order a spirited beverage. The Old Fashioned, made with Bulleit Bourbon, Angostura Bitters, simple syrup, Luxardo cherries and orange peel, is a killer.
In ancient folklore, a necromancer uses witchcraft or sorcery to reanimate the dead. Necromancer Brewing Co. isn’t launching a zombie uprising any time soon, but they do make spellbinding suds, have ghoulish can art and are located in a former Spirit Halloween store.
The ScareHouse shake is sure to send shivers up and down your spine … especially if you spike it with chocolate vodka! Every October since 2012, Burgatory’s been serving the decadent beverage, which features vanilla ice cream, vanilla custard, crumbled Oreos and gummy worms. Not only will it get you in the Halloween mood, but your purchase also benefits the Mario Lemieux Foundation.
4. Go to a haunted attraction
Hundred Acres Manor has more than a mile of interactive nightmares to unleash on its houseguests; from turn-of-the-century scares and an alien invasion, to bloodthirsty beasts and a discombobulating maze.
Pittsburgh has had a problem with the undead since 1968. Don’t sit idly by and let the misshapen monsters take over … stop them in their tracks. Hop aboard a Zombie Fighting Vehicle, which carries 24 riders per trip, and pelt the creatures with paintballs.
At the site you can also hear ghost stories around a campfire, enter a 3D Funhouse and watch family-friendly Halloween movies on a 15-foot outdoor screen.
ScareHouse is celebrating 20 years of fears! The venerable haunt now occupies a large space in The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills (because zombies love shopping malls). See familiar favorites like the ax-wielding bunny and Creepo the murderous clown, plus a bunch of new characters that’ll give you nightmares for another two decades.
Buffalo Bill’s House is all about the creature comforts. The Victorian mansion, which served as the fictional serial killer’s abode in 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs,” is now a vacation rental. Located 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh in Perryopolis, the 112-year-old structure has been lovingly Hannibal Lecter-ized by owner Chris Rowan.
As a professional art director and prop stylist, the hardcore horror fan has an eye for detail. Minutes after arriving you’ll be rubbing lotion on your skin and dancing to “Goodbye Horses.”
5. Watch petrifying movies with Pittsburgh ties
Director George A. Romero put Pittsburgh on the horror movie map when he filmed his original Living Dead trilogy in and around town. Visit the Evans City Cemetery, a burial ground featured in the opening scenes of “Night of the Living Dead” or shamble through Monroeville Mall, the backdrop for the follow-up gorefest, “Dawn of the Dead.”
Go on a cinematic sightseeing tour of Pittsburgh by watching the aforementioned flick, “The Silence of the Lambs.” Filming locations include the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum and the Old Allegheny County Jail.
“Innocent Blood” is a horror-comedy that took a bite outta the Burgh in 1992. Directed by John Landis, the fang flick stars French actress Anne Parillaud, who plays a vampire battling a gang of mobsters (including the late Don Rickles).
“Poltergeist” took place in sunny California but the movie’s unforgettable medium, Tangina, was played by a 4-foot-3-inch-tall, Pittsburgh-born Zelda Rubinstein.
Actor Doug Bradley, star of the “Hellraiser” series, was born in Liverpool, England, but he now calls Pittsburgh home. Check out his iconic role as Pinhead or watch him read spooky stories on his YouTube channel.
Tom Savini, The Godfather of Gore, grew up in Bloomfield and still calls Pittsburgh’s Little Italy home. Pay homage to the man — who created special effects for “Dawn of the Dead,” “Creepshow,” “Friday the 13th” and hundreds of other blood-and-guts extravaganzas — by snapping selfies in front of Jeremy Raymer’s amazing mural of Savini in Lawrenceville.
And, um, of course, we have Jeff Goldblum, a West Homestead native who created a buzz in “The Fly.”