Event Report: The 2011 Undead Festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey
The 2011 Undead Festival took place last weekend (October 21-23) in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and Dread Central was on the scene. We've returned with an overflowing image gallery and the following day-by-day event report. Read on to see what you might have missed so you can make your plans to be there next year!
New Jersey is becoming a veritable melting pot in which we appropriate anything awesome anyone does around the U.S. (or even the planet in some cases). As is the NJ tradition, we see something we like, we make it OURS!! In recent years this has included roller derby, burlesque events, Dr. Sketchy and the all-important ZOMBIE WALK. Last year the Asbury Park Zombie Walk drew crowds of over 5 thousand shambling undead, all counted by the Guinness Book of World's Records, shattering the previous record. This year the promoters of this event, led by an overworked (but still exhibiting an extreme love for horror) guy named Jason Meehan, thought it might be a good idea to turn the event into a three-day festival celebrating all things rotting, drooling and hungry for brains. Naturally, Dread Central and yours truly were all over it.
Day 1 was dubbed "fingers crossed" day as prior years of the walk were free to all. Would creepers come out for more than just the walk and pay to enter? The answer was yes. Friday saw a steady stream of bloody re-animated corpses who didn't need the almighty walk to dress up, shopping alongside families imparting their love of horror on the next generation. We are happy to report that most of the little guys showed up already dead, but for those that were not, Dark Horse had provided us with some Hellboy masks to make sure they fit right in.
To our shock and amazement Daniel Radcliffe kicked off the day with a personal message to all in attendance (via the big screen on the stage) before showing off the newest trailer for The Woman in Black. On the upper level fans were greeted by stars of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead as well as three well known corpses from AMC's "The Walking Dead", flanked by horror writers, artists and the Weird NJ crew. Descending the stairs into the main hall revealed even more vendors with incredible creations (from artists like Arthur Suydam, CJ Draden and Mike Smash) and everything from the cleaver T-shirts, eyeball hair clips and tiny zombie toys to brain magnets, edible body parts and cupcakes with intestines draped across them! As performers belted out tunes from Little Shop of Horrors, we dished out posters from Tucker and Dale, "Walking Dead" cube zombies and tickets for stacks of DVDs and comic trades to happy, bleeding folks. On stage Michale Graves entertained guests before screenings of The Dead and Chillerama ran back-to-back in the hall arcade.
Day 2... Saturday in Asbury Park, and the air is still as everyone along the Boardwalk prepares for hordes of the undead. Last year drew over 5k twitching souls so it stands to reason this year would draw even more. 7k? 10k? Try 12. As the day unfolded, more pale-faced freaks showed up to the delight of families, photographers, press and your average lookie-loos, filling the shoreline to capacity. Makeup stations offered a range of zombie looks from a light smattering of the red stuff over pale skin and blackened eyes to full-on face torn open and skin hanging off your jaw insanity. We can honestly say that no two zombies were alike, like terrifying and beautiful snowflakes. Those seeking prizes for their efforts took to the stage to be judged by their undead peers for their appearance, knowledge of zombie trivia and special talents. In the end a pair of blood-fueled LEGOs took the top prize. Q&A's with stars of our favorite Romero films rounded out the day, assuring that no one could say they were ever bored even for a minute. If that wasn't enough, Arlene Klasky (of Nicktoons fame) revealed her new zombie creation "Ollie Mongo" to the crowd. I hear a lovely decaying couple even tied the knot just outside the hall!
Day 3 is usually a sleepy day at a horror convention with attendees picking up those purchases they've been wrestling with the first two days and vendors tearing ass out the door at 3pm. Steady streams of fans kept us all glued in place! On stage Tony "The Pastryarch" Albanese from TLC's "Cake Boss" judged a creepy cake contest with one entry celebrating "Pet Cemetery" by Team Double Tap, which took first prize. Team Dread pushed out every Lord of the Rings magnet, Tucker and Dale beer cozie and After Dark Films poster we could unleash from our boxes of doom while treating contest winners to stacks of DVDs and Blu-rays from Shout! Factory, Magnet and more, alongside Zombie Tales comic trades from BOOM!
We had one hell of a weekend and now... I will sleep right up til Halloween.
Special thanks to Matt Booker for helping out at the table, Jason Meehan and crew for putting on a killer show and always taking care of us, our table neighbors Angry Drunk Comics and The Gorgeous & Gory Pinup Calendar crew, and our promo partners who made sure every ghoul who walked through the door left with something awesome: Chillerama, Shout! Factory, Warner Brothers Video Games, Abrams Books, Dark Horse Comics, After Dark Films, Magnet Releasing, Boom Studios, Synapse and FOX Home Video.
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