We’re living in the era of the undead, the time of zombie. Long familiar to movie audiences and comic fans, they’ve never been more ubiquitous in the culture than now, (see the bestseller “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” for instance). They’re finally getting their own TV shows:
* IFC is showing a British series, “Dead Set,” at midnight on Oct. 25-29 with a Halloween marathon starting at 6:30 p.m. The show explores what would happen to people on a closed-set reality TV show like “Big Brother” if the rest of the world was overrun by the undead.
* AMC premieres “The Walking Dead” on Halloween at 9 p.m. The six-episode first season is based on a chilling graphic novel series of the same name and is directed by Frank Darabont (who made “The Mist,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and many more).
But on Oct. 29, to kick off the Halloween weekend, the undead above ground will rally for Panama City’s first “Zombie Walk,” planned to take place downtown starting at 4:30 p.m. It may include a zombie “beauty” contest and other distractions. As one with a deep-seated and irrational fear of zombies, I’m looking forward to it.
Zombie walks are a growing phenomenon across the world. There’s even a website devoted to sharing/promoting the events. The earliest on record was in 2001, and the largest was in Seattle in July, with 4,200 undead. They’re often used to raise money for local charities.
There are “rules of conduct” for participants, which include gentle reminders not to attack the living or scare little children. No touching of bystanders is allowed. Traffic/pedestrian laws must be obeyed, and police must be respected. “This is meant to be fun. We do not want any zombie arrests,” the organizers said on their Facebook event page.
Citizen zombies are also warned to be careful with their fake blood — leave no “bloody” handprints on walls, for instance. Businesses and outdoor restaurant seating are off-limits along the route. And no weapons are allowed (as if zombies needed them).
On the flip side of that, let me suggest a couple of rules for those who might be interested in seeing the Zombie Walk: 1) Do not drive a vehicle through the crowd, no matter how scared you are. That never ends well. 2)Leave baseball bats, cricket bats, swords, axes and other zombie-fighting gear at home; do not hit a walker in the head — or anywher else, for that matter.
You know what? If any of this anti-zombie activity even occurred to you, it’s probably best you just stay home with your gear, rewatch “Shaun of the Dead” or read “World War Z.”
The above was my Sunday Undercurrents column for The News Herald.