Zombies are my guiltiest of guilty pleasures. I know there is utter silliness at the core of zombielore but I can’t help it. I just enjoy it so much. I love zombie movies, love zombie fiction – one of my favorite TV shows is “The Walking Dead”, which is set in the zombie apocalypse. And the zombie apocalypse itself is the perfect marriage of two of my favorite genres: tales of the undead, and tales about the end of the world.
I grew up on monster movies. Back in the 70’s, Oregon had a local television station that would broadcast old 50’s horror films late on Saturday nights on a program called “Sinister Cinema”, and that is how I was introduced to Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman… all the classics. I would stay up (or try to stay up) and watch these movies, for they fascinated me in ways that I didn’t understand then, and don’t totally understand now.
By the time I was 13, I’d seen all sorts of scary movies, retro and modern, and thought there was nothing I hadn’t seen before. Vampires, aliens, creatures, slashers — they all entertained me. Then one Halloween, I caught an airing of “Night of the Living Dead” on TV, and was forever changed. Good lord, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The dead — coming back to life! Terrorizing the living! Eating their flesh! It was crazy, low budget, black-and-white, and totally, absurdly horrifying. Did they really make a movie that featured a child eating her mother?
Since then, I’ve seen all the sequels, all the tributes, all the knock-offs. I’ve enjoyed the resurgence of zombie stories in the last decade, and when newer stories featured zombies that didn’t stagger along slow and stupid, but could move swiftly and run fast, my interest only increased. I have come to accept that zombie stories satisfy some weird craving I have for macabre entertainment. So when I saw that a local theater group in Orange County was putting on a stage version of the George Romero classic story, I was all in.
The Maverick Theater in Fullerton put on the play, and it was a rollicking good time. True to the source material, and amazingly effective for a stage performance, the show featured top-notch direction and excellent performances. It also had some moments that were jaw-dropping surprises (let’s just say it gave new meaning to the phrase “breaking the fourth wall”).
I am already looking forward to next fall, when the show will (presumably) return for another successful run at the Maverick. I caught up with some of the cast members after the performance and chatted with them about the joys of zombie life. They were all very friendly and genuinely interested in talking with the audience. I was only armed with my Blackberry, which has a very poor camera, but I got a pic anyway. How could I not? I mean, c’mon — zombies!
One thing on my “bucket list” is to get to be an extra in a zombie film. And while that might prove to be impossible in the long run, I at least got to pose as a victim of zombies for a brief moment tonight. So that’s sort of a start. Goals like this are only met one step at a time.
One slow, lurching step at a time.