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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    That’s deadication

    Thats deadication

    There are nights in Tucson when the air is chilled with death, and brainless, bloodthirsty hordes are heard dragging their limbs through downtown streets. Club Crawl is one such night. The Tucson Zombie Walk, which will be celebrating its fifth anniversary this Friday, is another.

    What started six years ago as a flash mob in the Rialto parking lot with a handful of nerds in zombie makeup has become an annual, all-ages Halloween-season event. It’s no All Souls Procession, but like a flesh-eating virus, the Tucson Zombie Walk has seen rapid growth every year since the infection hit downtown. According to event organizers, last year’s walk had about 600 zombies, up from 400 in 2008.

    The dead are rising — but not on their own. A pair of local organizers and their diehard volunteers have been working the graveyard shift to spread the zombie bug, and this year’s walk could be the biggest yet.


    The Rise of the Dead

    The local Frankenstein’s monster responsible for organizing the Zombie Walk has the brain of Rosie Zwaduk and the heart of Natalia “”Talia”” Lopez. At least that’s what Rosie and Talia will tell you.

    “”Rosie handles the logistical parts of the walk, and I handle the art. I’m the one with enthusiasm, but she’s the one who really gets things done,”” Lopez said of the partnership.

    Lopez tags herself as an amateur special effects makeup artist, a full-time aunt and a lifelong Halloween kid. The Zombie Walk might be the natural nexus of her interests. She’s had a hand in the walk’s expansion since its first official meeting five years ago.

    “”It was still kind of flash-mobby back then, but I started the costume contest, and that got a lot of people excited,”” Lopez said.

    Lopez met her current organizing partner three years ago when Zwaduk, a local producer at the time, answered a request for help on an online forum.

    “”I didn’t think one way or another about zombies,”” Zwaduk said. “”I just answered a call for help … but over the years I’ve grown to love the little undeads.””

    Zwaduk is a frequent collaborator with the Independent Film Association of Southern Arizona (IFASA), and in her two-and-a-half years in Tucson has been an actor, production manager, producer and first assistant director on various local film projects. Earlier this year, she produced “”The Cordial Dead,”” a zombie apocalypse comedy for which Lopez wrote and provided undead makeup effects.

    The distribution of labor on “”The Cordial Dead”” is reflective of Lopez and Zwaduk’s daily dealings for the Zombie Walk. Zwaduk is responsible for securing the location, booking entertainment (The Mission Creeps will be playing at the post-walk party for the third year in a row), finding vendors, setting up tables and providing prizes and sashes for costume contest winners — what she describes as “”All the boring stuff.”” She’s also in charge of amenities; even zombies need port-o-potties.

    Lopez handles the event artwork like flyers and t-shirts, provides free zombie makeup before the walk and uses her considerable enthusiasm to attract the horde. You may have seen her in full corpse regalia at Club Crawl, where she was lumbering near the Fox Tucson Theatre with a bloody, animatronic hand.

    This third year of the Lopez-Zwaduk partnership is also the third year that the walk will be collecting food and funds for the Community Food Bank. Responsible cannibals are advised to bring a few bucks or a non-perishable food item along with their graveyard getups this Saturday.

    With attendance on a constant rise and no end in sight to the pop culture zombie obsession, Zwaduk sees the walk like one might see an actual undead invasion.

    “”I see it growing every year,”” she said. “”It’s hard to walk away from.””


    The Dance of the Dead

    Another tradition will be observed Saturday. The Thrill the World movement, a global effort that has set and subsequently broken the world record for “”Largest Simultaneous Thriller Dance,”” will again be represented before the Zombie Walk.

    Last year’s dance broke the previous world record for the largest simultaneous dance in multiple locations on Oct. 24 and 25, when 22,596 people in 33 countries coordinated Michael Jackson’s “”Thriller”” dance. This is a landslide increase from 2008, when 4,179 people in 10 countries were recorded.

    Join the movement at 4 p.m. at Hotel Congress on Saturday.


    The Rock of the Dead

    “”When everyone’s dressed like a zombie, you can’t tell who the real zombies are,”” said James Arrr, guitarist and vocalist for The Mission Creeps. The local surf- and horror-infused garage rock trio will play the Zombie Walk after-party for their third consecutive year, bringing with them a revamped, zombified playlist.

    “”We’re going to play a new song called ‘Any Good Zombie,'”” Arrr said before teasing the lyrics in his signature low hum. “”Eating the brains of all who stand in our way.””

    The Mission Creeps have been in the business of singing about everyday monsters for about four years — as long as Arrr and bassist Miss Frankie Stein have been a couple. They returned from their first national tour in September, and are back at work writing new songs and rocking the desert as usual.

    The last month has also provided a change in the band roster. Jim Howell, three-time Tammie award winner for best drummer, recently replaced Jeff “”Die Day”” Diday, and the band is excited about what the new chemistry might bring.

    Used to bar gigs, the Zombie Walk gives the Mission Creeps an enjoyable change of audience. “”We’re really appreciative of being able to play,”” Stein said . “”It’s one of the few all-ages shows we can do all year.””

    Stein is no stranger to the Zombie Walk. In addition to helping book the Mission Creeps, she has helped connect organizers with sponsors and vendors around town. Playing the walk is well worth the effort. “”There’s nothing like the experience of being surrounded by a sea of zombies,”” she said.

    Beyond lyrics about Slavic assassins and spider-hole alienation, it’s hard not to spot the band’s underlying nods at love and inclusiveness. There’s something endearing in their sludgy cover of Kip Tyler’s “”She’s My Witch,”” and nothing more romantic than the sacrifices made by starving “”Cannibals in Love.””

    The Mission Creeps are scheduled to play at 8:30 p.m. They will be opening for their friends The Woolly Bandits, a Los Angeles garage-rock band scheduled at 9:30 p.m.

    “”It’s going to be a show filled with zombies, flesh-eating, death and darkness,”” Arrr said.

    “”Kind of like every time we play.””

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