I survived the zombie apocalypse, Nashville.
The Nashville Zombie Walk lived again but not without considerable pains in my already thinly spread ass. From shit weather to Nazi rallies and last minute SNAFUs involving the route and staging area, we had a hell of a time getting this to happen but when it was all said and done, we finally made it. A week later and I’m still almost in shock that it happened. Thanks to Lucas, Lightning 100, and a host of other incredible people and organizations we were able to resurrect an event that is very dear to my heart and do some good for the Second Harvest Food Bank. The crowd was smaller than I’d hoped but I understood that because of the weather and a list of last minute changes and I wasn’t sure that any of the effort over the last year had been worth it until I snapped this picture.
My gorgeous, blood splattered fiancé smiling as she hold’s on to my Encino Man styled skateboarding zombie hunter son alongside two of our very close friends. Everyone is happy, smiling, and enjoying themselves in spite of the cold and confusion. That masked Minion of Danno is smiling, believe it or not, behind that chrome painted skull grin and that is the only thing that mattered to me about this entire day. I’ve spent most of his life working evening shifts and never got to celebrate my favorite holiday with him the way I wanted to. Halloween has always been special to me and, in lieu of trick-or-treating and rituals at home, the Nashville Zombie Walk became our celebration. In truth, I’ve only got one, maybe two more of these left before he’s “too old” or “too cool” to hang out with his dad playing dress up so this was my chance to share in that excitement and fun one more time.
I think my piece over at ZIMB really sums it up nicely though.
It’s been a long road, but we finally made it. Saturday morning, while hate groups tried to spread their social poison through neighboring towns like Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, Nashville was busy repelling its first Zombie invasion in more than two years. But unlike those other marches taking place across the south, this devoted group of brain-eaters was causing mayhem and terror for a good cause, as they brought in donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee ahead of the holiday season.
That’s not to say we didn’t have some issues, though. Freezing temperatures, last-minute route changes and heckling and intimidation online from some people who were upset over the event’s return all tried but failed to dampen spirits as we gathered around Marathon Music Works.
For those of you who’ve followed me since I took over this event last September, nothing has been easy about this. When I took over, I was a columnist without a clue. I’d never produced a large event and I had no idea what I was doing. The internet was full of general advice on how, but not anything more useful than a vague impression of what to do. Once Lucas came on board, things made a drastic turn. With his help, we were finally able to start building bridges with sponsors and public works officials who had been on the outside of the event since its implosion following the 2014 walk. Suddenly, we had funding, space and the freedom to try and make the Nashville Zombie Walk not only live again, but begin working on building it into something altogether more incredible than ever before.
Then there was Evil Dead: The Musical. My friend Mic Rex is playing Professor Knowby and the Moose in Radical Arts’ third stage performance of the campy, hilarious musical based on the Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell splatter fest horror comedy that has it’s final performance this weekend at the Music Valley Events Center. I’ve seen four different incarnations of this play over the years and never once has there been a bad performance. From bootlegs to off Broadway, they’ve all been phenomenal but no one gives as much heart, passion, or blood as Radical Arts. I was happy to take the Minion of Danno to see it this year.
He looks like he went to Carrie’s high school prom.
Evil Dead: The Musical has become, hands down, my favorite musical performance over the last few years. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this incredible show three of the last four years and it just keeps getting better every freaking time. I was front row last night for the opening of the most recent production of this campy, blood-soaked musical put on by the talented folks at Radical Arts.
Formed in 2016, this theater company has already made quite a name for itself with productions of their Alice in Wonderland-themed burlesque, Down the Rabbit Hole, and other shows, including Venus in Fur and Extremities. They also have the distinct honor of being the absolute bloodiest production of Evil Dead: The Musical that I’ve ever attended.
Friday night’s opening of Evil Dead marked the beginning of their season and a return of one of the coolest musicals you’ll ever see in Nashville or anywhere else for that matter. As a devoted Deadite and horror fan, as well as a lover of musical theater, it’s become a must-see event and this time was no exception. For those unfamiliar with the show, it began in 2003 in Canada as a campy tribute to The Evil Dead series of films starring Bruce Campbell and quickly exploded into a wild success, almost universally loved by fans. Radical Arts adds to that proud tradition of over-the-top craziness and comedy.
And in all the craziness, I did get chance to do something new that I’ve never done before. I wrote a book review. Josh Hancock writes horror in what has become a very unique style. Epistolary narratives have largely fallen by the wayside since the Victorian Era ended 100 years ago but that doesn’t mean they can’t be exciting and fun. Like reading Dracula for the first time without the stodgy British concern for form and propriety, Hancock’s book Death Rituals tells the story of a young girl who suffers an unimaginable trauma and the fall out that it has for years to come on her life.
As a fiction writer, I’m very critical of story no matter what it is I choose to review. I’ve watched films that have had terrible production and acting but have been saved by a unique and well written story. The same is true about books. Writing a book is a long, difficult process and the reception of it is so much harder to gauge. The truth is people just don’t seem as inclined to read, think, and imagine the way they used to and it makes a writer’s job so much harder. In a time when most people only have time and attention for 140 characters or less, how do you hook an audience and engage them in a way that will keep them focused on the story you have to tell. Josh Hancock may have the solution in his new book Death Rituals.
With all these reviews and the Nashville Zombie Walk I feel like I haven’t written fiction in a long time. It’s actually a bit depressing when you consider yourself to be a horror creator who has spent more time in the last year writing about other people’s work than making your own. I’m hoping I can get my latest project, State of Fear, up and running in the next few weeks and start pitching it to the outlets I write for. It would be nice to at least generate some site traffic with a syndicated piece, not to mention give me a chance to breathe and start writing stories again. It would also be cool to start writing more pieces talking about horror culture and cultural influences like the piece I did a year ago about the connection between sex and horror. Time will tell, I suppose.
I’ve been doing some changes to the site, especially the book store (hint, hint) so check it out.