The first annual Zombie Walk took place on Saturday in Nelson.

COLUMN: I walked with a zombie, several actually

The first annual Zombie Walk was a big hit in Nelson.

Zombies, what could be more Halloween-ish than flesh-eating ghouls wandering the streets of Nelson? The inaugural Zombie Walk, hosted by the Nelson Civic Theatre was a bigger success than  even organizers had hoped for.

An estimated 300 undead showed up for the fun event that attracted even more onlookers.

The range in zombies was equally impressive. Everything from little kids, to teens, parents to grandparents. There was even a local editor wandering among the ghouls.

It’s true, the second I heard about the Zombie Walk, I knew I had to take part. Zombies and I go way back, all the way to 1968 when my young life changed and turned towards horror movies.

Scary movies are most certainly an acquired taste. Some people can’t stand them, others can’t get enough. It’s like riding a roller coaster. Some people pay good money to go on a ride that scares the living daylights out of them. Personally, you’d need a gun to get me on a ride, but horror movies are my roller coasters.

And zombies are my favourite.

Of course they weren’t always flesh-eating monsters. Hollywood zombies used to be traditional. Africans or Haitians who had lost their souls (usually due to voodoo)  and become walking slaves. Eerie, but not really dangerous. Films like White Zombie and I Walked With a Zombie,  were hugely popular in the 1930s and ’40s.

But the industry changed in 1968 and as I alluded to before, so did I.

I was only four years old when my father took myself and my three older siblings to the drive-in to watch a new film, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

My father was sure that I would fall asleep in the back of the station wagon long before the movie started. However, hyperactive Kevin wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon.

I watched every minute of this new zombie flick. No longer passive slaves in a trance, the new monsters were aggressive, they attacked and they ate people.

Gross, especially to a four-year-old who was supposed to be asleep.

So gross and so shocking was that film (back then anyway, now it’s almost laughable) that little Kevin ended up in the emergency room. Doctors said I was in shock and to give it a couple of days.

Sure enough a few days later I snapped out of my stupor and went back to being a four-year-old. My dad had a guilt complex for awhile but otherwise life went back to normal. Well, sort of.

My fascination with horror just grew from there. Monster books, toys, special effects, monster models, you name it, I own it.

I also have a monster movie collection on BluRay and DVD. It’s like my secret vice, intelligent professional by day, gore fanatic by night.

While I used to think my love of the macabre was strange, Saturday proved that I am not alone. I had the chance to walk with hundreds of my fellow gore-fanatics and we were out for a good time.

No devil worshipping, no sacrificing, just a bunch of people with a common interest having fun and being goofy.

Some took it far more seriously than I did. While I had the volunteer make up artists prepare my zombie look, others showed up in more elaborate make up, with severed limbs, bullet holes and gore-covered costumes. There were plenty of ghastly laughs. During the walk, some people got right into character, attacking parked cars and moaning.

And the crowd loved it.

Leave it to Nelson to let people show off their weird side every now and then.

On Friday, the rest of the world, at least the 12 and under crowd, get their chance to dress up and have fun. But these ghouls, or princesses, monsters or superheroes rewarded for their behaviour. Candy. For we zombies, the fun was reward enough. Happy Halloween!

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