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Attacked by Zombies!!!
The Universal lot is teeming with the Undead. I should know, I saw two innocent people attacked and eaten at a press junket. A press junket, people!!
We had been invited to witness "Zombie Zchool", a training course where students learn how to walk, talk and twitch like a real, honest to goodness Zombies. The class was being held in front of the old Bates Motel, which, while still an ominous place, is slightly less formidable with Whoville looming just behind it.
When the instructor arrived, he pulled some students out and had them show us what they'd learned so far in class. There was the signature Zombie walk and of course the unmistakable guttural moan. Just as Tiffany, a perky young woman opened her mouth to demonstrate, three real, live zombies burst out of room 3 and ran, or rather, stumbled hurriedly toward us. They grabbed the instructor and a woman from the crowd, ripped off their hair and pulled out their guts. It was pretty gnarly.
A man with paper white skin, standing at about 9 feet tall, who called himself "The Teacher", walked among the carnage, warning anyone who dares visit Universal for "Halloween Horror Nights" to expect a similar fate.
The Zombies, as it turns out, were quite photogenic, posing for press shots for more than hour in front of the Bates Motel and house and the War of Worlds set to promote the upcoming Halloween festivities at Universal. For seven nights over three weekends, beginning Friday, October 13th guests will be able to get off the studio trams for the first time in the studio's 90 year history and walk around the sets at Universal. The lot and theme park will be transformed into "terrifyingly realistic settings for an intense and enveloping manifestation of mayhem" in which guests will be "subjected to disorienting and unnerving interactive experiences" or so our press packet tells us. There also promises to be musical acts, live entertainment and a freak show!
Incidentally, it turns out the "Zombies" and all the "Scharacters" at Universal are well trained, even if the "Zombie Zchool" was a ruse. Natalie Brown, the "housewife" zombie told us there were about 150 women at the open call audition and about 40 at the callback. They were all put through rigorous dance calls and were expected to have theme park entertainment experience. Natalie had hers. She was a monster in the "Beetlejuice" show at Universal in Japan.
After an hour of photos in the hot sun, even the undead get tired and distracted.
"You, there. Cop. Move to your right!" A photographer barked out at a zombie in a blue uniform with a badge.
She didn't respond.
"Hey! Cop!" He repeated.
"Oh me?" She said. "I'm a meter maid"
Halloween Horror Nights begins October 13th and runs over three consecutive weekends until the 31st. Advance online tickets are $34. $49 at the door.
Check out www.halloweenhorrornights.com for info and tickets.