There's something about zombies - something innately unifying, a sense of shambling, blood-dribbling community - that brings people together. Especially at a time when the horror genre has turned tide toward mopey emo vampires and the latest bad seed child of the week, those with an affinity for the shuffling undead somehow always find a way to join forces, shred their clothing, greasepaint their faces and practice rolling their eyes back into their sockets for a spontaneous celebration of zombie mayhem. (Who has any doubt that the Halloween-timed "Thriller" zombie walks are going to be extra poignant this year, too? And no, it won't be too soon for a few more zombie Michaels than usual.)
A perfect summertime installment of zombie shenanigans came courtesy of the Hollywood Outdoor Cinema on Saturday, who brought Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's unparalleled rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead to their big inflatable screen parked on Sunset Blvd. (in the former Circuit City parking lot - good central location, let's hope no one buys the building by next summer!) and coordinated a fab cross-section of reanimate-related activities to go along with the show. Star power - of the undead lit variety - in the form of authors Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and S.G. Browne (Breathers: A Zombie's Lament), both signing for fans while local merch varying from "I (cricket bat) Zombies" tees and gnarly themed cupcakes (the "Reanimated Red Velvet," topped with a blood-spattered edible brain, was our favorite by far) made for excellent pre-show distractions. As did the on-site food vendors for those who didn't pack picnic baskets and coolers full of beer. (A word to the Cinespia folks: on site munchies = a very good thing.)
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Meanwhile, the emcees from nerd culture website Geekscape ably kept the crowd entertained until dusk fell with contests that ranged from a pie-eating contest - cherry pie, of course, topped with cream in order to best resemble brain matter when mashed and crammed into gaping maws - to the inevitable "best zombie" fashion show. Our picks, including the inexplicably giggly gal dressed as undead Miss Marvel from the Marvel Zombies comics and the burly, menacing fella they nicknamed "Boomer," ultimately stumbled by the wayside in favor of a lightly gored-up guy who won the crowd over by failing to moan appropriately into the mike and introducing himself as "Randy." Enjoy that Xbox 360, dude, but a little more effort on the costume front next time.