Toronto Zombie Walk: The Streets Are Alive With Death
"Originally, the Zombie Walk was called that because that's what they did. They got out of their graves and they walked so slowly and their power was in numbers," explains Zombie Walk organizer Thea Munster, who has a fun way of applying logic to the event she founded seven years ago, an idea that has caught on all over the world.
"Lately, zombies are faster and more able to attack victims on their own. It's funny because there were people that came as '28 Days Later' zombies and they're running zombies. So are the 'Zombieland' zombies, so I'm gonna have to have a zombie run, instead of a walk."
'Zombieland' zombies are also a little yellow, says Munster, whose preference is for the classic zombies "with lots of character," but she loves the assortment of zombies that show up each year. Last year, the Walk attracted an estimated 3000 people to Trinity Bellwoods Park. She expects similar numbers this year, as they embark on a Walk that ends at Bathurst and Bloor, a.k.a. The Dead End.
So what is the key to looking like a zombie?
"I guess, it would be a deathly pallor and lots of blood," says Munster, who links to make-up tutorial guides, make-up supply stores and make-up video tutorials on her website, www.torontozombiewalk.ca. Halloween supplier Creeped Out will provide free fake blood for those who don't keep a vat at home and you can get splattered by volunteers right before the Walk begins. 'Resident Evil: The Dark Side Chronicles' is also setting up a make-up tent at noon for a few hours. Be prepared for a line-up.
Munster says people from all walks of death are welcome to walk, even zombie spawn. "I'd say we get about 50 kids between the ages of 5 and 8, and some in strollers as well. It's incredible. It's definitely a family event. At first, I thought it would be more Goth people or horror people, but the weird thing is I can't pin it down to anyone."
Munster - her zombie name, of course - is a die-hard fan of these legendary reanimated corpses, popularized by director George A. Romero in his 1968 classic horror film 'Night of the Living Dead,' but whose history is thought to have originated with the Haitian religion Vodou (voodoo) in the late 1800s.
"What I like about zombies is they're one of the only monsters that have power in day and power in night, so it's unlimited. Also, their strength is in numbers. I like punk rock culture and I always found that to be a power- in-numbers thing too. We rebel and take over the streets," she says. "By themselves, they're not powerful, but with others, they are and I think that's really cool."
Originally from Victoria, British Columbia - once known as the city of the newly-wed and almost dead - Munster moved to Toronto where the zombie sub-culture was hard to source, not that she had had much luck back home either.
"I know people that had groups of friends that would go do this, get dressed up as zombies and wander around the neighbourhood, but when I moved to Toronto, I had no friends that wanted to partake in that kind of activity," she explains. "I decided to put up flyers everywhere and call it the Zombie Walk and try to get people out. The first year, seven people came out. Then a girl named Heather McDermid, who was on my first Walk, she moved to Vancouver and started the Walks there, and then it spread like the plague."
Zombie Walks now take place in cities all over America, Canada, Australia, the U.K., Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Brazil, Germany, Iceland, Sweden and more (www.zombiewalk.com). "I don't like to take much credit for it because I think that's what zombies do - they just gather together and roam the streets. That's their nature," says Munster with a laugh.
Munster realizes that with the recent death of Michael Jackson that there might be a few hundred Thriller-era zombies at this year's Walk. In fact, a month after The King of Pop's death more than a thousand people showed up at Chicago's Wicker Park for the first-ever Michael Jackson Zombie Walk.
"Which is cool," says Munster. "People can take it and do what they want with it. It's supposed to be a fun thing. What I like about the Toronto Zombie Walk, at least, is that they are so many varied types of zombies - Romero old classic movie zombies and then voodoo zombies and then you have the vast 'Resident Evil' zombies."
All zombies must assemble in the Pit at Trinity Bellwoods Park, where Munster will be giving out prizes before the Walk - including 30 gift bags from It's My Party, CDs from Anchor Bay and AAAAAH!! Indie Horror Hits, Pontypool DVDs, t-shirts from Zombie Liquorice, Toxic Waste Candy and lots more - so get practicing your best moan and walk.
And don't start walking until you get the okay from Munster. Last year, the groans and moans from the thousands of zombies drowned out her giveaways. "I have a megaphone so I'm yelling, 'Don't go yet! I have prizes!' and all you can hear is 'Gggrrrrrrrrrrrr,'" she laughs. "There were so many, they could not hear me at all, so anytime I'd yell they'd start going and finally I'm like, 'Just go!'"
Complete listing of Zombie Walks across Canada
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