News Column

Zombie film coming to Somerset

June 9, 2014

By Justin Dennis, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

June 09--This summer, Pennsylvania is ground zero. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Chuck Wagon or Mel's Bar, the undead apocalypse comes to a county near you.

In a world where the epicenter of the zombie virus outbreak is the historical community of Somerset, one man -- one director -- will bring the lights, camera and action.

Actor and filmmaker Jake Mulliken is getting ready for a "Meltdown" in Somerset. The 2013 RAW Pittsburgh (film) Artist of the Year is prepping to film his new horror flick. Shooting begins today.

The award-winning 30-minute short, which is the basis for his upcoming feature, is packaged with this story on

"It's basically 'Shaun of the Dead' meets 'Mad Max,' " he said. "You get to see the characters escape Somerset."

The whole town is getting into character. Locals will recognize the aforementioned spots as well as Frank's Old Fashioned Pizzeria. He said he chose Mel's Bar because of its "Meet and Eat" sign.

Mulliken said the county Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in making the film a smash.

"The entire chamber and borough have really opened their arms to us," he said. In the initial draft of his script, the setting was "Ambiguous Town, USA," he continued. "When we first went out there to location scout, I rewrote the entire first half of the film to be set in Somerset."

Mulliken has lived in Pittsburgh for three years. He hails from New Mexico. While on the border, he unwittingly crossed paths with a crystal meth distributor who was stealthily cooking the drug during his open house.

His time on the set of AMC's "Breaking Bad" was brief, but it was his first TV gig. Now, he's shooting for the big screen and he wants the region in his close-up. "Meltdown" comes right on the heels of Windber filmmaker Blair Murphy's "Zombie Dream," which also featured your neighbors, succumbing to the unending horde.

Like Murphy, Mulliken said he wants the movie to champion the area. He'd also like "Meltdown" to debut in Somerset -- sometime in August, circumstances permitting.

"There's almost that childlike sensation of 'Oh, someone's shooting a movie here,' " he said.

"It just amplifies it when an entire community backs you. ... I want everybody to feel it's as much their movie as it is mine."

Shooting will wrap on Sunday, he said. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, he'll host a question and answer session and meet and greet at Quinn's Pub, inside the Quality Inn near the North Center Avenue Turnpike entrance.

"If they want to know something specific about camera work, acting, effects, directing, writing -- we'll have the cast and crew all there," Mulliken said.

"It should be a pretty fun event."

For more information, visit, or search "Meltdown Feature" on Facebook. Get a taste of Mulliken's film by watching the 30-minute short on

Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @JustinDennis.


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Source: Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, PA)

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