Zombies are often compared to snowflakes. Not only do they descend upon hopeless pedestrians in hordes, but each one is unique.
Some are reanimated through voodoo as in the 1930s flick White Zombie, while others are the product of an ambiguous scientific origin, a la George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Some have the coordination of Frankenstein's monster; others move like undead parkour enthusiasts. Some want to kill you, others just want to thrill you.
DeKalb Zombie Tom Brown, junior psychology major, is a nice guy. Helping Meghan Barnett, sophomore sociology major, organize DeKalb's first Zombie Walk, which will take place Saturday, the coordinator knows an awful lot about necromantic media.
The Northern Star caught up with Brown to talk about gelatin, Romero and brains.
NORTHERN STAR: What type of zombie are you?
TOM BROWN: The walk is designed to be a classic Romero zombie: slow, shambling, no-running, barely-speaking, flailing-about-a-lot kind of zombie, unless we're crossing the street. Then we're all going to do 28 Days Later, bolt-across, don't-block-traffic kind of zombies.
NS: Do you prefer voodoo or radioactive origins?
TB: I'm conflicted. In my favorite movie, Night of the Living Dead it's supposedly radiation zombies. They never really say, but it's kind of hinted at. But my favorite kind are the voodoo zombies, like first original Béla Lugosi zombie movie White Zombie. Voodoo all the way.
NS: Movers or shakers?
TB: I'm all inclusive. They each have their perks. The runners are scary and in modern times, we're afraid of things jumping out at us, but when I'm looking for something more subtle or creepy, the slow, falling apart zombies are the way to go.
NS: Hungry or angry?
TB: Hungry. The bloodier the better. Just ripping things apart.
NS: What did I miss?
TB: I think recently the threat of the infected zombies where it's a virus is very terrifying to modern times, because if you look at the next SARs breakout or West Nile Virus scare we're going to have, it seems to hit closer to home.
NS: How would someone stop you as a zombie?
TB: Aim for the head. I firmly believe in aiming for the head; the classic "Romero." They can be terrifying if they're not that way like in The Return of the Living Dead where all you can do is burn them or... use a nuke on them, but I prefer "destroy the brain, destroy the ghoul."
NS: Where are you getting your zombie makeup for the walk?
TB: I'm actually just using just common baking gelatin. You just add a little water to it. It's like the consistency of pancake batter, and you glob it on and make like a wound or something. It dries, and you paint it or put make-up on it. It looks pretty wicked. It's from the special features of The Walking Dead DVD.
NS: How do you feel about the Left 4 Dead zombies who have special evolutionary adaptations?
TB: They're great for video games, but in -- if you can say -- the real world threat of zombies, they're a little goofy.
NS: How do you feel about Michael Jackson's "Thriller?"
TB: I think it's the most fun thing to dance to at clubs.
NS: What about Rob Zombie? Or any other zombie music?
TB: "Living Dead Girl" was my ringtone all through high school. Zombina and the Skelatones are a pretty cool British horror-pop band. They have a lot of cool zombie stuff.
NS: What about zombie video games?
TB: You gotta go back to Resident Evil. It really starts there. The later games kind of suck though.
NS: But Resident Evil zombies aren't dead, are they?
TB: That's a long-running debate among the zombie specialists. I prefer to look the definition of a zombie as something that has no free will. You can either look at the original voodoo zombie that is a dead corpse walking around without a soul, or you can look at the 28 Days Later zombie where you have rage in their blood, and they want to kill. Either way they have no control, and they want to eat you. You might as well enjoy it all.