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Interview with It's Alive! Show creator and Zombie Fest curator Mark Menold

By Geoff Bough

Pittsburgh is like Mecca to a zombie fan. The old George Romero stomping grounds are home to many of his film locations. Having now moved to Toronto, George still has the city in his grip and a mass of diehard zombie fans that follow.

Hailing from Pittsburgh is Mark Menold, creator of Pittsburgh's horror host show 'It's Alive!" and organizer of Zombie Fest & World Zombie Day. You might be asking yourself 'what is World Zombie Day? Do I need to buy a a card?" Well, we talk with Mark Menold about the event. *Hallmark cards coming soon

Rev: How did the idea for World Zombie Day come about? (By the way, I think this should become an official holiday!)

 

MM.: Since we established the Guinness world record in 2006 for "Largest Zombie Gathering", many other cities around the world have tried to beat out record and failed. I feel bad about this since Pittsburgh has an unfair advantage, being The Zombie Capital of the World. I felt bad for these other cities not getting enough people to break the record because they were getting big turnouts, 600, 800 zombies and still feeling like they failed.

World Zombie Day allows all the zombie walks around the globe to participate in one big event and add their attendance numbers to one grand total. Once again, I'm encouraging organizers to include their local food banks and ask their zombies to bring food donations. We compile attendance numbers into one big number (and the total weight of all the food donated) and everyone can feel really good about it.

I think we will eventually have World Zombie Day declared an international holiday. Or at least let people have the day off work on Halloween!



Rev: The Zombie Fest show is organized by the cast and crew of the It's Alive! show, did you all grow up in the Pittsburgh area?

 

MM.: Most of us did. My childhood was spent going back and forth between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It was like watching a game of ping pong, except I was the ping pong ball. No place was really home, I was a strange gypsy child who knew every Howard Johnson's on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I did have favorite TV shows in both cities; "Dr Shock's Scream In" in Philly and Chiller Theatre here in Pittsburgh. Both were really good local horror host shows but went away sometime in the late 70s or early 80s.

Rev: Can you tell us a little more about the It's Alive Show?

 

MM.: It's Alive is Pittsburgh's new horror host show. The program features weird sketch comedy, puppets, live bands and a horror movie. It's not the usual "Hello boils and ghouls" crap. Instead, I've assembled a cast of musicians and comedians who are really good at what they do. It's Alive is really a comedy troupe presenting a horror movie. Who am I kidding? Sometimes we get so carried away, we forget to even mention the movie.

Rev: This years Zombie Fest is shaping up quite nicely and the buzz is building about the record breaking, worldwide zombiewalk. Can you tell us what we can expect from this years event?

MM: This year is going to rock 33.3% harder than last year. My biggest beef with horror conventions is there's really nothing to do at them. You can look at celebs sitting at their tables and buy things but you really can't do anything. I want people who come to Zombie Fest to be able to mingle with the guests and dance at The Zombie Ball, to play live action zombie games, have a chance to appear in a film about zombies, rock out to live bands, and to participate in another world record attempt at the Monroeville Mall. This is the location where George Romero shot Dawn of the Dead and it's about 500 feet from the ExpoMart, where we hold Zombie Fest. At Zombie Fest, you can actually be a zombie for a day. Three days, really.


Rev: Last year you guys were organizing an interesting panel on horror journalism, will that be returning this year?

MM: Yes, we have some of the panelists from last year returning, including several Bram Stoker Award winners. We’ve actually got a waiting list of horror writers.

Rev: Are you able to announce any special guests yet?

MM.: We’re still negotiating with folks so we aren’t ready to announce yet. Keep checking our web site for updates.

 

Rev: Last years show also featured screenings of independent films, will the film fest be returning this year as well?

 

MM.: Yes, we’re developing a program of both commercial and independent films, but will focus on mostly indies to give these producers and directors a chance to shine. Stay tuned to the web site for announcements.

Rev: Are there any plans to document the show and maybe do a World Zombie Day dvd?


MM.: Yes. I'm asking news crews and production companies in all the participating cities to contribute footage to my documentary on the worldwide event. There will be a lot of indy filmmakers shooting the zombie walks, but I'm in the unique position to compile the footage of all the zombie walks and festivals from around the world into one documentary. Interested filmmakers can find more info on our web site. Some amateur footage will be considered as well.

Rev: How are the zombie walks being organized globally? Are there zombie walk captains throughout the globe that will lead their shambling masses?

MM.: Yes. There is usually one insane but resourceful person in each city who organizes these events. It's important for us to have one point of contact in each city to verify attendance numbers, charitable contribution totals. If you would like to be that person in your city please contact us at zombiefest@verizon.net



Rev: When can we expect to hear more announcements about the event?


MM.: Stay tuned to the It's Alive web site for updates and breaking news about Zombie Fest and World Zombie Day at http://www.theitsaliveshow.com. You can also watch our show there free, on demand, 24/7. Caution: this website is extremely addictive!

Rev: Finally, how tasty are your brains?

MM.: My brain is soaked with tequila. You might want salt and a lemon wedge to go with that.

 

 

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