August 18, 2009

Toronto After Dark: Zombie Appreciation Night

Toronto always has the perfect weather for zombies. As it was when I ventured to Toronto for a screening of Zombie Girl in May, it was a breezy sunny summer evening on August 16th, the evening of the Toronto After Dark zombie appreciation night!

Co-presented by the Toronto Zombie Walk, the Toronto After Dark zombie appreciation night included a screening at the Bloor Cinema of two outstanding zombie films: Dead Snow [read the review] and The Revenant [read the review].

Both movies brought an unhealthy mixture of humans and zombies together for the much anticipated double-feature in which Dead Snow sold out to a capacity crowd. If you came as a zombie, you even got your tickets at half-price (one step forward for the rights of the living-impaired!)

I feast on Spencer Estabrooks, director of Dead Walkers

So, I got zombified and came into Toronto, picked up my tickets, and waited outside in the ticket-holders line. Riding the subway to the theater in my zombie costume, I realized why major cities will be most devastated in a zombie outbreak. Only one in ever 50 people I encountered reacted to my ghoulish appearance. It's a known fact that people in big cities learn very quickly how to ignore all the crazies and weirdos who show up ranting and stumbling about on public transportation and public streets. It's a coping mechanism. However, this coping mechanism will prove fatal when the zombies attack. City-dwellers and urbanites are likely to ignore all the stumbling, moaning weirdos of the undead variety until they get close enough and take a chunk out of them-- at which point it will be too late.

I also learned that standing in line is a good place for zombies to practice their patented moves. I did a lot of standing in line and noticed that when you're doing so, you tend to stand in one place swaying from side to side, like a directionless zombie. Then, every so often, you get to take one stumbling step forward. You do this several times until the line starts to pick up momentum and move toward its prey, in this case the theatre lobby. Then the staggering line of zombies becomes a sea of rushing bodies cascading into the lobby -- a horde of mouths and hands that hungered not for the bloody brains of the living but the buttery pop of corn!

Standing in line was not all bad, however. I was surrounded by fellow zombie enthusiasts and a number of people in costume. In front of me were a group of young adults filming a zombie movie across the street with help from other people in line and the enthusiasm one sees at an impromptu ball hockey game (even with people calling out, "car!"). All sorts of the undead came out to play. I saw at least two Nazi zombies, a number of mutilated faces, and one intrepid zombie in a Hawaiian shirt shambling nonstop up and down the road.

Briefly, I even got to meet Spencer Estabrooks, the director of the incredibly enjoyable short zombie Western called
Dead Walkers that played before Dead Snow. Spencer and I got a quick picture together, but I may have been too distracted by my zombie hunger for flesh before the flash went off (see above). More about Dead Walkers to come on The Zed Word, but until then check out Dead Walkers on Facebook.

The night was full of gore and laughs. Although I only get to attend a fraction of the films this year,
Toronto After Dark puts on one hell of a festival program, and Toronto itself is always hospitable to the undead.

That's why I'm particularly excited about the September 12th
Toronto Zombie Walk: Special Director's Cut Edition in honour of George A. Romero, who will be appearing after the walk. With that and the more local and always fun Hamilton Zombie Walk in October, the next few months are going to be a busy one for The Zed Word. I'll be there on the ground, bringing you all the happenings from the end of the world!

Stay tuned for more and check out my reviews for DEAD SNOW and THE REVENANT!