August 26, 2009

Brain Picking: Inverview with Thea Munster (PART 1)

(organizer: Toronto Zombie Walk)

She is a zombie fanatic who keeps her DVDs and movies in a casket. Occasionally, she performs for Carnival Diablo by walking on broken glass or lying on a bed of nails while a cinder block is broken on her stomach. I think it's safe to say that Thea Munster is not the sort of woman you meet everyday. And good thing too because she's been able to focus that unique energy into not only being the lead organizer of the The Toronto Zombie Walk (Oct 24, 2009) but also in bringing another very exciting and special event for zombie fans to Toronto in September. I am, of course, referring to the Toronto Zombie Walk: Special Director's Cut Edition (Sept 12)-- a zombie walk in honour and celebration of George A. Romero featuring an appearance by the man himself to coincide with the premiere of his new film: Survival of the Dead.

In Part One of my interview with Thea, we talk about zombie walks and getting George A. Romero to appear at the Toronto Zombie Walk: Special Director's Cut Edition

The Zed Word (ZW):
Since there is no rest for the undead, I want to thank you very much for taking some time to talk to The Zed Word about your two upcoming Toronto Zombie Walks.

Where did the idea come from for the SPECIAL DIRECTOR'S CUT EDITION event in September featuring George A. Romero?

Thea Munster (TM):
We were asked by Colin Geddes of Midnight Madness at TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] if we would help him celebrate the Survival of the Dead release as well as George's recent Canadian Citizenship. It wasn't a tough decision. We didn't want to move the regular Toronto Zombie Walk, which will happen on October 24th; instead, we decided to hold The Toronto Zombie Walk: Special Director's Cut Edition as a bonus walk and treat for the living dead.

Calling it "a treat," I think, is putting it lightly. I know a lot of zombie fans in the area that would give four arms and a leg and a spinal column to come out and celebrate the man who invented the modern zombie genre we love. Even more special is that Romero now has Canadian citizenship and will make an appearance at the end of the walk to speak to the zombie walkers. Can you comment on what you consider to be Romero's special connection to Canada and / or Toronto?

Well, Romero has been working out of Canada and Toronto for quite a while now. And I know Canadian zombies have been extremely receptive to what he's doing. But as for why Toronto? I have ideas, but I am hoping he will address this on September 12th when he greets and is greeted by the zombies at Yonge and Dundas Square.

ZW: Is here something unique about Toronto, then, that is well-suited for an assembly of the undead?

TM: As for Toronto being a zombie Mecca, I think it works. If we look at traditional film theory and Dawn of the Dead, where zombies represent those wrapped up in consumer culture, Toronto is definitely the center of Canadian Consumerism.

For me, I see it as being more about Community. Toronto has always been a city that has a strong sense of community. It's a city that takes pride in its many different cultures. Zombies represent a disjointed, unique group of communities that work together (ok sure, maybe it's to destroy the world)

ZW: Was it easy to solicit Romero's involvement for the September 12th Zombie Walk in Toronto?

TM: We didn't have to solicit anyone. It was all Colin Geddes' doing, really. Now it's just up to us to bring the walking dead.

The Toronto Zombie Walk has been in contact with Romero's people before. On the Toronto Zombie Walk's 4th year, Michael Felsher, who films the behind the scenes for Romero's Diary of the Dead came out to the TZW [Toronto Zombie Walk] and interviewed a few people. As a thank you, my boyfriend and I were invited to the set to watch Romero direct. It was amazing!

To my surprise, when the film was released, Colin Geddes of Midnight Madness invited me to bring 50 zombies to the Diary of the Dead Premiere at TIFF. We walked the red carpet with George and I tell you, that carpet ran blood red!!

ZW: How long have you been organizing the regular Toronto Zombie Walk?

TM: This is the 7th year I have been organizing it. The first one, in 2003, consisted of me and 6 other people. One girl who attended the first zombie walk, Heather McDermitt, moved to Vancouver and started one there. Since then, it has spread like the plague. In Toronto, the zombie walk didn't start getting mass numbers of zombies until the 3rd and 4th year, while other cities were getting hundreds of zombies in their first year.

ZW: I hope this year brings you even more people on October 24th. Also, I'll be seeing you at the Toronto Zombie Walk: Special Director's Cut. I wouldn't miss that event for the world (or the end of it).
TM: As well as celebrating the release of [Romero's] new movie, I think it's going to be an amazingly fun, and deadly time! It's also an opportunity for zombies to give thanks to the king of the modern zombie, George Romero, as well as welcome him to Canada. It would be wicked to see hundreds of zombies carrying welcome signs. What a sight for sore and missing eyes!!

It's also a chance to see a screening of Night of the Living Dead outside as well as in the heart of the the city, surrounded by a slew of gore splattered, flesh munching zombies. Forget popcorn! Who brought the intestines?

I am sure there will never be another night quite like it!

VISIT for route information and start times!

CONTINUE for Part Two of this interview
in which Thea will share some stories about being cast as a zombie extra for George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead.