Tag Archives: zombies rule

Beware of toxic creature!

Back when I was writing about homestyle and interior design for the Calgary Herald, I never dreamed I would one day turn into the kind of person who buys a throwaway “Beware of Toxic Creature” sign from Dollarama. Motherhood has led me down the road of chintzy holiday decorating; more specifically, pleas from my daughter swayed me to succumb.

Avery also bought a toxic creature to accompany the sign. It's on her head.

Avery also bought a toxic creature to accompany the sign. It’s on her head.

Avery: “Mommy, can we go to the dollar store this weekend to buy Halloween decorations? Please?”

Me: Protracted, awkward silence.

Avery: “I’ll spend my own money.”

Me: Sigh. “Oh, alright…”

It’s not that I’m a Halloweenie, I just don’t see the point of hanging up a bunch of cheap caution tape, fake spider webs and sock ghosts that are just going to blow away and get wrecked. Yes, it brings the children joy to admire these trinkets and those of the neighbours, but here’s an idea: What if we just carve pumpkins! Isn’t that enough? Do we really have to invest in a life-size coffin and skeleton to get into the spirit of the holiday?

Stumbled across this gem    on an evening walk.

Stumbled across this gem on an evening walk.

This over-the-top love affair with Halloween kitsch is new, and it’s but one way the holiday has changed since I was a kid. Now, everywhere you go you see faux skeletons bursting out of graves, animatronic witches stirring pots, and creepy zombie girls holding a brain to their mouth while they sing Ring  Around the Rosie. In my neighbourhood, it’s a thing, and it gains momentum every year. All of the above frights are stationed outside of homes within a one-block radius. It kind of puts our dollar store display to shame.

Behold: Zombie girl!

Behold: Zombie girl!

It’s also, I don’t know, terrifying if you’re a little kid just trying to get some candy. When Avery was two she ran home crying from the house at the end of our block after the motion-activated skeleton came to life when she got into range of the front door.

Bursting out of a grave near us.

Bursting out of a grave near us.

One of the nearby homes that goes all-out is owned by a bachelor who doesn’t even have kids! His yard has morphed into a cemetery, and it’s watched over by a table peopled with Halloween horror hall-of-famers including Freddy Krueger,  Jason and Ghostface from the Scream movies. It’s a miracle Avery and especially Bennett will even walk by on Halloween night. (Storing this crap for the other 51 weeks of the year would be the other miracle.)

Jason, Scream mask guy and Freddy Kreuger hold court at The Zang, a neighbourhood home that goes all-out for Halloween.

Jason, Scream mask guy and Freddy Kreuger hold court at The Zang, a neighbourhood home that goes all-out for Halloween.

When I was young, I’m pretty sure homes weren’t decked out with tombstones and tarantulas. There were carved pumpkins. So what’s changed? Mainly, Halloween has become a big commercial holiday — spending is expected to reach $7.4-billion this year, and I’m pretty sure it’s not all being dropped on candy and costumes (actually, $350-million will be spent on pet costumes, but I think I’ll save that topic for another post).

In the meantime, I’ll cringe inwardly at the tacky scene our front porch has become, but outwardly, I’ll smile every time Avery runs outside to adjust a spider web and ghost. I’m also content in the knowledge Avery only spent $7 at Dollarama (as opposed to $160 on the Rosemary Zombie Girl). True, she’ll have to buy some replacement props next year, but I’m okay with that.

Zombies rule

To say that I am late to the zombie party is an understatement. I didn’t watch my first zombie movie, Shaun of the Dead, until a couple months ago (it came out in 2004). And just this week, in honour of Halloween, my husband and I started watching The Walking Dead (season 4 started up earlier this month), an AMC series that pits human survivors against a lot of zombies.

Run! Zombies! Oh wait nevermind… they are so slow!

Run! Zombies! Oh wait nevermind… they are so slow!

Now that I’ve entered the weird world of zombies, I am hooked. Yes, it’s a bit of a mental stretch to watch a show about zombies — we all know that zombies aren’t real and it boggles to think that the military and police wouldn’t be able to bring down the zombies with all that ammo — and you’d think it would be cheesy. I mean, zombies? Seriously? But I will say this: The Walking Dead is compelling.

After trying to get into acclaimed series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black (neither of which had me caring much about what happened next), it’s so nice to watch a show where you really want to find out who lives, who gets gobbled up in a surprise attack, or whether redneck Merle cuts off his own hand-cuffed hand before the zombies break down the door.

After every episode Blake and I have conversations like this:

Me: I don’t see how those zombies could’ve snuck up on camp without everyone hearing them. They shuffle loudly and they’re always kind of moaning.

Blake: I know, and they’re uncoordinated and bump into things. But at least they’re easy to kill.

So. Very. Hungry. Zombies have an insatiable hunger for raw meat.

So. Very. Hungry. Zombies have an insatiable hunger for raw meat.

We haven’t talked this much about a TV show since trying to guess what would happen next on Lost. We discuss zombie theory, and marvel that all zombie shows seem to follow certain zombie rules:

  1. There’s always some virus that infects and kills humans on an apocalyptic scale;
  2. The dead then come back to life as zombies;
  3. Zombies walk slowly and incoherently as if in a stupor;
  4. The zombies feed on humans, thus making more zombies from the carcasses (zombies can also feed on animals like horses, but evidently the infection doesn’t cross over to other species, e.g., there are no zombie horses);
  5. Surviving humans can only kill a zombie by bashing its head in or burning it.

Blake: Wouldn’t a zombie eventually starve to death if it couldn’t find food?

Me: I think they just go into some kind of quasi-hibernation until they smell fresh meat.

Some argue the recent spate of zombie shows reflects societal fears of contagion, weaponized viruses and civil collapse. Perhaps. But I think we continue watching because despite all their failings and grotesque, decaying appearance, zombies are more likeable than other monsters of the imagination. They’re slower, stupider versions of humans. They’re not sneaky like werewolves or cunning like vampires. And should you find yourself in a crowd of them, all you have to do is stagger around like a drunk to blend in. As an apocalypse survivor, you might just stand a chance against a zombie.