Zombies rising (from the dead) in popularity

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sorry, vampires. You've been dethroned as the hottest Halloween horror around.

After years of vampire dominance, in the movies and in the costume aisles, this year it's all about the zombies.

Halloween's right around the corner, and it's easy to see that zombies are where it's at this year for those getting in to costume.

It's a zombie world, it seems, and we're all living in it. With rotting flesh, a taste for human brains, and less-than-stellar manners, zombies don't really come to mind when you think about hot trends.

Blame the hit AMC television show "The Walking Dead," and the comedy (yep, zombies and comedy in the same sentence) "Zombieland," for the cult of zombies.

I hadn't really thought much about zombies. I knew they've always been a staple of Halloween haunted houses, of course, and are a part of the language of fright. But, those smelly, bad-tempered undead are now the rock stars of horror.

I had heard about the resurgence of zombies, read about a couple of zombie walks, yet it wasn't until my son and I took a weekend visit to Des Moines earlier this month that I actually saw how big the zombie craze was.

Doing some shopping in the East Village neighborhood, we decided to stop by the newest dining option in the city center - Zombie Burger + Drink Lab. I must admit, my zombie-savvy son had to interpret the menu to me, with such undead-inside jokes as the "Double Tap" medium drink, and the "Juan of the Dead" burger. The stars had aligned just right for us in our stop at the hot spot because, wouldn't you know it, a fundraising Zombie Walk was going on downtown that day as well. What better place to conclude the event than at - you guessed it - Zombie Burger?

We were minding our own business, finishing up our "Dead Moines" and "Trailer Trash Zombie" burgers when we were overrun by hundreds of the walking dead.

There were doctor zombies, child zombies, an entire bridal party of zombies, punk rock zombies and grandma and grandpa zombies. They shuffled in with the distinctive gait and vacant stare - until they dropped character and ordered themselves a Coconut Cream Pie shake or "Double Tap" diet Coke.

Since that weekend, it seems I've seen zombies everywhere. The Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, earlier this spring released a blog post, "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse," written by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan.

When the U.S. government gloms on to a trend, you know it's become mainstream.

Which means that this is probably the high season for zombies. By next Halloween we will have moved on to werewolves (who have been under-appreciated since the 1981 John Landis classic, "An American Werewolf in London," made them the scary creature du jour.

Zombies are, I've got to say, a much easier character to create at home than a werewolf. Rip up some clothes, roll them around in the dirt, a bit of greenish-white face paint, an artistically-drawn fatal wound, and blood, blood, blood. And zombies are as varied as people, so they are truly a ghoul for any man.

So, when you open your door on Halloween night, don't be surprised to see a visitor out for your brains. But they will settle for a chocolate bar.

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