Thursday, November 8, 2007

Zombie Fest 2007

Because our camera was stolen at the event, the planned post on the Zombie Fest weekend Jane and I attended was postponed. But a few pics were taken on a cheaper camera, and some people since then have been kind enough to forward some photos to me, so...

Here's the cover of the program for the event:

Many vendors were at the event, including the folks behind Monster Mini-Golf, (which I reported on on August 1), people selling comics, CDs, DVDs, games, art, and clothing, and more. Authors on zombie films, actors from the Living Dead movies and others, and other odd folk (I mean that in a nice way) were on hand to be seen and to talk to fans, and a makeup demo was held as well.

The weekend included a Saturday night ball where four bands played. Opening the sets were one of my favorite groups, The Ubangis, fronted by Brian Horrorwitz, owner of Trash Palace. (See TP in my links.) They were followed by Forbidden 5, the (nearly) all grrl band, Motorpsychos, and the headliners, Deathmobile. All put on a good show.

Here's Jane and I as we appeared at the Ball (I was wearing my life-like prosthetic robot body for the occasion):

Here are pics of The Ubangis performing at the Ball (shared with me by Brian H., but taken from a Flickr set by Ubangi's fan "j.buck".) They were introduced by Bill Hinsman, the cemetery ghoul from the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

More pics from the weekend, including the Zombie Walk, a shuffling trek across the Monroeville Mall, where George Romero filmed the first "Dawn of the Dead" in 1977. The walk (which raised canned good donations for the local food bank) had a record-setting 1124 zombies!

(Looking around on the Net I find on the home page for the Zombie Walk I now find out that the organizers didn't want pictures taken. They didn't mention or post that rule at the event! Oh well... my bad. Lots of folks took pics, and am I glad!)

At the Zombie Ball, one zombie man got onstage and proposed to his zombie gal. We chatted with them-- Glenn and Michele-- and they sent this picture:

[Photo removed Sept. 2008 on request.]

Here was one of the witnesses (he traveled the furthest to be there, I think.)

The event had a setup at the Ball where you get your photo taken in a coffin. The Voodoo Queen and I couldn't pass up the opportunity! Sadly, the guy working with the digital image before printing it decided to crop it very closely, so you can't see the whole casket. Still, what a marvelous souvenir:

I covered up my exposed brain for the official photo, of course. I do have some propriety.

Some folks at the Ball were friendlier than I expected. Sometimes it was just because the free Straub's beer flowed easy, but there was another reason as well. It turned out that a stranger overheard someone who knew me say "That's Max". Word spread that I was Max Brooks, the author of books on zombies, including The Zombie Survival Guide, who was scheduled to appear the next day. I was unaware of the mistaken identification until someone-- a zombie 1950s soda jerk and his bride, a zombie diner waitress-- finally mentioned the book. They had been very friendly. When I said that was not that Max, boy, did the friendliness disappear. (And they had two of the best costumes, too. Sigh.) Instead, I was looked at with what seemed to me to be major disappointment! (On the plus side, it brought back memories of my honeymoon.)

(Just kidding, Jane!)

We saw a zombie bride and groom, a zombie Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and even a zombie Mr. Rogers!

The next morning was the Zombie Walk.

Below is a picture of one of the makeup students from Tom Savini's film makeup school located here in Pittsburgh. She was one of several talented students on hand to do a free makeup for those not wearing any; she did my makeup.

Update, Dec. 2007: Cyle W. was kind enough to send this picture, showing this blog's namesake among several of the talented makeup students who helped make the event successful:

Pictures of the walk's putrifying participants...

Zombies need caffeine as well as brains!

Yes Virginia, Santa Claus is a zombie.

The family that eats brains together stays together...

Above: The most Continental zombie on the Walk. Or perhaps a zombie member of the Collins family?

Below: "Step right up folks and see the living dead!! It'll only cost you one measly cerebrum!"

Then the creepy crawl began...

And here we are...

The sticky makeup blood daubed on my face stained my skin, and for a couple of days at work I looked like I'd gotten a sunburn on parts of my puss.

However, my face was never redder than just before getting the makeup applied. I swallowed a big gulp of coffee-- it was early in the day, and I was jonesin'-- and it started done the wrong pipe. (Coulda short-circuited my robot body!) But instinct kicked in and I found myself spewing it, hitting the shoes of a young kid standing nearby. Is severe embarrassment fatal? I wonder-- I think I almost died from it!

After the Walk, we went back to the Fest proper and spent money like good consumer zombies!

Above is a business check from the George Romero movie MARTIN. Bought it from John Russo because it had a nice, clear signature of Romero and Richard Rubenstein. I had Mr. Russo sign it as well.

I chatted with Mr. Russo a bit, and he was an interesting guy. Direct, candid but polite, and unsentimental. He revealed that he couldn't talk too much because everyone connected with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD had participated in a 40th anniversary documentary ("One For The Fire") about the classic film, and was under a contract not to give interviews until its release. He did say that some of the films that have most impressed him were THE GODFATHER and THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES. He did add, "But making a list of 'favorites' is a child's game."

I enjoyed him a lot. As I did chatting with Kyra Schon, Bill Hinsman, (NOTLD) and Jarlath Conroy (DAY OF THE DEAD). Mr. Conroy, who is still a working actor, was a funny, charming teller of anecdotes. I hope I see him a lot more in films and on TV.

I also got the autograph of Judith O'Dea on the same Romero business check. That didn't go as well. She was still beautiful nearly forty years after the making of NOTLD, and was polite and cheerful. She talked easily with fans. But apparently not if you asked too many questions! (I asked three or four, and no one else was at her table at the time.) She surprised me by speaking with a decided British accent, so I asked where she was born and raised. She said here in the United States. So I asked if she had spent some time in England. She replied something like "No. What you're hearing is the fact that I've done a lot of English plays. I've always lived and worked here [the U.S.]. " I thought, "Then it's a good thing you never toured in The Miracle Worker when you were a kid!" I asked her about horror movies, and she stated she wasn't a fan of them, but was enjoyably scared as a kid by THE WOLF MAN and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Then she mentioned the contractual obligation not to give interviews and said "I think I've talked to you quite enough." I slunk away, embarrassed. (You oughtta see a drunken severed head slink sometime. Jane tells me it's quite a sight.)

Back to the Zombie Fest photos!

Below: "Saucy Randy" of The Ubangis tends to Brian Horrorwitz's zombie dog Bella.

Now here's a heartwarming photo-- an insane Ubangi with his hypnotized zombie pooch waiting to fed upon by zombie Bill Hinsman!

Another hallmark moment:

And here's two surprising celebrities on hand: zombie Supergirl and zombie Superman, killed by glowing kryptonite!

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