October’s bony knuckles are rapping on our front door. Hundreds of thousands of people will be lining up, eager to have the wits scared out of them at local haunted houses. TV stations are running horror movie marathons designed to make sure you lose sleep at night.
And the Zombie Survival Crew has a few events in store for its members to make sure that y’all are ready to face your fears.
Don’t miss the chance to meet your ZSC commanders face-to-face in Florida:
Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend
Halloween weekend we have not one, but two events for crew members to participate in. We fully encourage your to gear up and take place in the 2011 Halloween Zombie Event, a live-action scenario where you can chose between playing a zombie or a survivor. This is the perfect opportunity to test your skills in a safe manner before the Zombiepocalypse catches you unprepared. Go to their website to find a participating city near you.
For crew members unable to make it to the live-action 2011 Halloween Zombie Event, don’t worry. Commanders LK and RC have been wracking their brains (mmm… brains…) and developed an online version of the event. For more information, read here and keep an eye on this site for rules, regulations, and suggested role-play strategies for the online 2011 Halloween Zombie Apocalypse.
Priority Status: High
The approach was unexpected. I was re-sorting gear for the umpteenth time at the Zombie Survival Crew temporary command post at Spooky Empire recently when a voice called out: “Zombie Survival Crew. I need to know about this.”
Now there really isn’t much that will leave your fearless commander-in-chief speechless but when I looked up and saw Ted Raimi standing there my jaw dropped. I did a lightning-fast mental check to regain my senses and sputtered out a greeting.
Over peppermint candies and gum I walked Ted through ZSC command protocols and mission parameters with permagrin he was kind enough not to comment on. I do believe I even stuttered a few times. Nonetheless, Ted accepted a Command mission and assignment on the spot and walked away with ZSC gear to call his own.
Ted’s years of experience fighting demons, the possessed and all manner of the undead gives him a definitive edge against the zombie hordes. He thinks fast but strategically, and has an unnerving store of knowledge about weapons.
Zombie Survival Crew please raise your weapons and welcome our newest First Lieutenant TED RAIMI!!!
Saturday morning found ZSC Command members gathered round the resort’s Starbucks in search of coffee cups big enough to hold the amount of caffeine we all needed before the Con doors flew open.
And when the doors opened – it sparked a 10-hour onslaught of zombies, demons, bloody priests and people with chainsaws where their hands should have been.
The Walking Dead and Boondock Saints casts were in front of us, Night of the Living Dead to our right, with Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi and Anthony Michael Hall behind us.
Rocco came over to work the Zombie Survival Crew table and lend some extra Command support. Rocco’s move brought Blue Brigade Commander Norman over for a bit. Norman jumped right in and completed a few ZSC Command missions, and got so enthusiastic about it we had to physically stop him at one point.
The Command support of his two Boondock Saints cohorts drew Sean’s attention as well – though it later became apparent Sean has a different take on what ZSC Command structure should ultimately look like. It’s a disconnect I thought we had settled out after the Albuquerque Comicon – but he and I are trying to work it out. Or rather, I’m running from, hoping Sean won’t go jujitsu on me!
Norman, Greg Nicotero, Jon, Steve, Anthony and the rest of The Walking Dead took off mid-afternoon for their panel which many fans later picked as one of the highlights of the weekend. Nicotero thrilled the fans with information about effects and the magic he and his team work on The Walking Dead zombies.
While the gang was gone Lisa and I took the opportunity to scarf down the chicken ZSC loyalist Leigh-Anne procured for lunch, and found ourselves embroiled in impromptu Command strategy sessions with Anthony Michael Hall, Ted Raimi and Michael Kenworthy.
Within an hour all three gentlemen convinced me they were valuable assets to ZSC Command – and I enthusiastically issued rank assignments on the spot.
As the sun began to set, the Con wound down and the after events ramped up. Leigh-Anne volunteered to act as scout and went ahead to scope the VIP party crowd for potential UGA attackers. She immediately felt the eyes of surveillance upon her, but communicated the belief it was safe for Command to enter – as long as we were careful to avoid predator drone attacks.
Norman, Sean, Rocco and Anthony held their own, and ultimately it was Leigh-Anne – our brave volunteer – who suffered the first real loss of the evening when a UGA agent managed to procure her room key. As volunteer keeper of the Communication network she would be repeatedly targeted throughout the evening. We have yet to discern the “why” behind these assaults but can only assume it is an attempt by the UGA to remove Command’s support systems.
We bobbed, weaved and shimmied – and unlike the previous night it was because of the rockin’ music at the poolside party. We even managed to eat at a relatively decent hour. I just wish I could report we actually went to bed at a decent hour. Oh, don’t worry. We all paid the price…
My alarm might as well have had laryngitis for all the good its squeaking did in terms of waking up the living dead (me) that occupied my room Sunday morning. A text message on the other hand seems to have miraculous regenerative powers. Just sayin’.
The call to Anthony and Lisa – to see if they were still among the living – turned into an exchange of moans and groans any zombie would envy. Pretty sure none of us understood what any of the others were saying.
I didn’t quite realize how bad things were until I turned on the light in the bathroom. And I’ll be honest. I screamed. Puffy swollen eyes. Blotchy skin. A general green tone to the skin. For a few heart-pounding moments I feared the UGA had somehow unleashed another assault and infected me. But no. I was thinking, so I couldn’t be a zombie. I think, therefore I am, right?
Phew. Disaster avoided.
Sunday was a blur of monster assaults and UGA probes that seemed to be occurring within a live-action role play of a Marx Brothers routine.
As I attempted to decode an early morning email from Anthony Michael Hall, and Lisa helped Anthony try out a coffin, Leigh-Anne volunteered for a desert mission under extreme conditions. I couldn’t quite believe she still had enough left in the tank to take on a mission of mercy to resupply ZSC command – but she did, and reported back with biscuit sandwiches and coffee.
It was around this time that I ended up with Anthony Michael Hall’s bank card. The scenario that led me to be guarding the card reminded me of an old Danny Kaye movie scene from The Court Jester where he’s trying to remember this tongue-twister: The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true… What? Oh forget it, don’t ask.
On a mission to get something from the ZSC Command vehicle, I opened loading docks doors only to find myself nearly tackled by one Jon Bernthal, who had apparently managed to get stuck outside under the burning Florida sun for some time. Jon did better than Norman, Rocco and I when we all ended up in the Sahara ourselves a little while later.
When Michael Kenworthy decided to don his new ZSC Command tshirt, he changed mid-room without thinking it through – and ended up with people throwing dollars at him. To say he blushed when he realized his mistake would be the understatement of the decade.
Steve played a quick game of ball with The Walking Dead cast mates Chandler Riggs, Adrian Kali Turner and Addy Miller that involved a ninja strike from Norman before he had to take off for his next mission.
New ZSC Con procedures after Spooky Empire
Priority Status: High
As a result of events at Spooky Empire, Zombie Survival Crew, we now have a new standard operating procedure for all future Cons. ZSC cadres are requested to check in with Command as early as possible to set parameters for Command protection and integrity for the duration of the event.
Let me tell you why….
It was apparent pretty early on that Spooky Empire May-Hem was going to live up to its name.
My eventually successful attempt to retrieve Light Blue Brigade Commander Anthony Guajardo and his mother Lisa from the airport involved about 35 minutes of driving around in circles – which, I have to say is vastly less exhausting than running around in circles, but still kind of crazy. Shortly after we got to the resort, Lisa crashed in my room. Within minutes? Anthony crashed. Shortly thereafter yours truly was dreaming about sugar plum fairies.
When we awoke – now hopelessly late for set up and early meetings – we immediately discussed the possibility that the Unnamed Government Agency had somehow infiltrated the event and put us all out for reasons we probably wouldn’t want to guess.
Set up involved a crazy mad dash into the celebrity signing room where we would spend the weekend recruiting new members as personalities from The Walking Dead, Boondock Saints, Night of the Living Dead and Evil Dead thrilled the fans.
ZSC loyalist @buttrscotchboom (a.k.a. Leigh-Anne) showed up shortly after the event opened and adopted a defensive position to assist Command. And she got there just in time – as I was soon to fall victim to a gruesome attack by Bill Hinzman, better known as Zombie #1 from George Romero’s masterpiece Night of the Living Dead. I did manage to escape with an assist from Leigh-Anne and Lisa only to discover that Anthony was passed out on the ZSC table. We revived him – debriefed around the assault that left him incapacitated – and proceeded to scour the room for potential UGA moles.
Put simply? We knew we were in trouble.
Steve Yeun, Jon Bernthal and Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead were kind enough to jump in and lend a hand on a quick ZSC mission with the Boondock Saints and ZSC First Lieutenant David Della Rocco – while we awaited reinforcements in the form of Blue Brigade Commander Norman Reedus and First Lieutenant Sean Patrick Flanery (both of whom were also waylaid by what we suspect was UGA-crafted roadblocks).
By the time Norman arrived on the scene we were in full defensive deployment mode. We – with our allies from the Dixon’s Vixens – informed Blue Brigade Commander of the multiple attempted attacks just as a predator drone strike took aim at Norman. He was able to escape but inadvertently left Rocco in the line of fire. We bobbed. We weaved. We even retreated at one point to try and regroup. The UGA was relentless. I left Rocco and Anthony with armed guards Leigh-Anne and Lisa and ventured – at 3 a.m. – to find us some food to keep up our strength.
The food resupply was just what we needed to help us strategize – we crafted code words, evac plans and communications to aid us in predator evasion and keeping Command intact for the weekend.
With that, we were ready to face the hordes. Or so we thought ….