It was another typical Tuesday morning in the drowsy city of Boston, Massachusetts. As the sun peeked through the overcast sky, the citizens of Beantown went about their early morning routines, heading to work, walking their dogs, going for a morning run. The serene sunrise shed its light over Boston Park, and as the light touched the Washington Monument at its very center, the father of our country himself looked out over the city…
In pure, unadulterated horror.
At the base of the monument, held back only by flimsy chains, a horde of shambling undead staggered around the monument, moaning and snarling in their quest for human flesh, their cries echoing across the park. No, it’s not zombie apocalypse fan fiction; it’s the honest truth. Well, mostly.
Tuesday morning across the globe, similar zombie attacks took place around the world as part of a promotion campaign for AMC’s “The Walking Dead” television series, which premieres this Sunday on Halloween. The staged attacks began at dawn in Hong Kong and Taipei, continuing throughout the day at the world’s most iconic landmarks including as London, England’s Big Ben; the Acropolis in Athens, Greece; and New York City’s famous Brooklyn Bridge – with the virus coming to a head in Los Angeles as the dead walked the red carpet at the pilot episode’s world premiere screening. (However some planned stops on the invasion, including Chicago’s Tribune Building, failed to materialize.)
Those lucky enough to rise early and see the hordes shamble across the Earth were in for a treat – assuming they avoided infection – as the “attacks” were all organized under the direction of “The Walking Dead’s” make-up artist Greg Nicotero; and true to the adored special effects guru’s reputation, the zombies looked positively terrifying.
In Boston Park, eighteen of the evil undead staggered around the Washington Monument in front of a video camera and the press who chose to head on over at the crack of dawn to document the event. Much of the morning was spent with the zombies breaking character to take direction from the videographer as he tried to get the most terrifying shots possible. While the results were unsettling, it seemed to break the illusion of a real zombie attack, as runners and passers-by merely walked by almost without a second glance.
“I hope the real zombie apocalypse is more fun than this,” Marshall Weir, a programmer and zombie-enthusiast from Cambridge, told CBR News on his way for an early morning coffee. Weir was one of the Massachusetts natives who walked by while the zombies were still doing promotional shots around the monument and was a bit disappointed that the zombies were breaking character. He did, however, walk away with a “The Walking Dead” flyer and some very convincing zombie sore temporary tattoos – but those tattoos were nothing compared to what the zombies themselves were sporting.
If the zombies at the event was any indication, “Walking Dead” fans are going to be very, very happy with the look of the undead horde when they premiere on their television screens. The makeup work for the event was incredible, striking a happy medium between current Image Comics series artist Charlie Adlard and original artist and co-creator Tony Moore; a terrifying, horrific happy medium. In addition to the obvious sores and bloodstained shirts, the facial makeup was different on every zombie assembled, making each one as unique as an undead snowflake.
“REEEEEEEEEEH! I don’t like fast food! If I can’t catch it, I don’t want it!” said Brina, one of the actors who terrorized the park as a zombie. Sporting a Northeastern University sweatshirt, Brina added a bit of local flavor to the event and enlightened us on what it took to become a zombie in this day and age.
“It’s a good promotion,” she said. “The call came up on craigslist or NextCat or something like that and you just answer it. Every role is different. Every time you learn a bit from every role. [AMC] gave us a lot of homework. We had to watch videos on the making of [‘The Walking Dead’] and how to move.”
While Brina didn’t know much about the show prior to being reborn as a zombie, other makeup covered actors had heard of the upcoming AMC series. “I saw the promotion on TV,” one told CBR, blood dripping from her ponytail. “It looks pretty cool.”
Some had actually read the Robert Kirkman comic on which AMC’s new show is based. “I read the beginning of the first volume, but I haven’t had a chance to finish it up,” said another sore-bedecked zombie. “It’s a huge cult classic.”
Two local, veteran actors bedecked in zombie regalia were kind (or hungry) enough to lunge out at me through the chains. Both zombies had just finished working on “The Darkness Within” and were excited to get back into the exhilarating world of horror. “I’ve done a few horror movies and I love the whole prosthetic and zombie look,” said Michelle Romano, a local actress. “So when we found out about this, it was a thrill to jump onboard.”
Although the makeup was excellent and the actors enthusiastic, calling the event “a zombie attack” isn’t quite accurate: the undead often broke character to laugh and examine their colleagues’ makeup, while volunteers clad in “Walking Dead” t-shirts handed out flyers and tattoos. While a different experience than expected, it nonetheless gave an excellent preview of the look and style of the show, if not the attitude – and while many passers-by seemed to ignore the horrifying appearance of zombies swarming the Washington Monument, it could just mean that Boston is too desensitized to flesh-eating ambulatory corpses to be ready for the impending apocalypse.
As the early morning commuters wandered off to continue their boring, non-zombified lives, the horde of flesh-eaters finished terrifying George Washington and were last seen heading to Boston Park’s historic duck pond, where the delightful children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings” takes place.
Now there’s a crossover that nobody’s hoping for.
“The Walking Dead,” produced by Frank Darabont, Gale Anne Hurd and Robert Kirkman, premieres on AMC this Sunday night at 10/9 PM central