Complections loves zombies. Whether created by instructors, alumni or current students, the school always seems to be involved with the undead in some way, especially around October. So when we found out that graduate Taylor James did the make-up for head zombie herself, Toronto Zombie Walk coordinator Thea Munster, for her zombie-themed wedding at this year’s event, we just had to sit down with Thea and find out all the gruesome details!
How long have you been coordinating the Toronto Zombie Walk for?
2011 was the 9th Toronto Zombie Walk and I’ve been coordinating it since the walk began.
Why did you create the Toronto Zombie Walk? What do you hope to achieve with it every year?
The first event entitled a “zombie walk” was held in Toronto in 2003. The zombie walk spread when one of the first participants moved to Vancouver and started one. From there it hit San Francisco. It really grew in a plague-like fashion.
In the beginning I thought it would be fun to dress up as a zombie with others and wander the streets. I really didn’t know anyone in Toronto that enjoyed dressing up as a zombie, so I put up flyers everywhere and I got six people out. I didn’t realize that it would grow into such an undead spectacle with thousands of zombies and almost as many photographers and spectators.
As with most zombies, I believe the spread of the zombies is essential to our survival, so I hope to grow the walk every year, as well as involve more people, families and local Halloween lovers. One day there may even be zombie-themed floats and exhibitions.
Why did you want to hold your wedding at the 2011 event?
The zombies of Toronto have become a second family to Adam and I, so we wanted to share our special day with them. Adam proposed at the Toronto Zombie Walk two years before we got married, so it seemed like the perfect location.
What was it like coordinating the zombie walk and your wedding at the same time? What was your favourite part of the preparation?
I truly thought I was digging my own grave. I am still recovering…
There were a few really great times when preparing for the wedding. My friend Stefania and I stayed up really late sewing the rats on my dress. Two days before the wedding my mom and I drove through a massive rainstorm to Peterborough to pick up a coffin from the 1800s for the special day. And having our faces cast was such a cool experience. I’d never been through that before, but it was so amazing.
Tell me about the things you did to “zombify” your wedding.
My walk down the aisle included an entrance in a coffin from the 1800s with a window in it. We had to get lots of clothes shredded and torn for our family and Officiant.
I have a 1954 Hearse, so we used it in the ceremony. Adam’s dad drove it and we had a “just buried” sign on the back. I also gave my bridesmaids necklaces with vials of grave dirt from Evan’s City Cemetery (Night of the Living Dead).
And, of course, the make-up really set the whole mood of the day. We were rotten to the bone, and loving it.
Tell me about the wedding make-up that you had applied.
The make-up was inspired by a movie poster for Bluebeard’s 10 Honeymoons. The poster had a skull-faced bride on it. I knew that if anyone could pull this off, it would be Taylor. Besides being an awesome make-up artist, she seems to understand my B-movie sensibilities and my leaning towards retro style.
Taylor cast our faces around six weeks before the wedding. She built the skeleton pieces up from the face casts. Then on the day of the wedding she came to our hotel room with Complections graduates Sheena Ben-David and another artist named Faye Crasto.
Adam’s prosthetic was one piece that fit over the top part of his face. Mine was in three pieces: an upper and lower face piece, as well as a chest piece. Taylor applied my make-up, while Sheena applied Adam’s. They airbrushed around the facial pieces and around my rib cage. It was done fairly quickly for such an amazing job. I think it took around three hours.
Faye did the make-up for our family, which didn’t include prosthetics, but was very gruesome and effective. I thought it was so great that she used the maggots my mom was so happy to have purchased.
What was working with Complections graduate Taylor James like?
Taylor is wonderful. She is so creative and talented, but she also makes you feel at ease and is really fun to chat with. I had a great time with her, and her calmness really helped to lessen the wedding chaos.
Tell me a bit about the ceremony.
Well, it was an interesting ceremony. The hearse got stuck in traffic on the way to the park, so the anticipation had really built up by the time I arrived. Adam and the bridesmaids were already on stage when six pallbearers carried me, in the coffin, up to the stage. They removed the lid and my arm shot out of the coffin with bouquet in hand.
I got out of the coffin, attacked the audience a bit, and then met Adam and our zombie Officiant, who was dressed as a zombie priest, at the front of the stage. We wrote our own vows and they included a lot of untraditional references to the dead, and loving each other through rigor mortis, angry villagers, zombie hunters, etc.
Do you have any special plans for next year’s walk?
Next year will be the 10th annual zombie walk, so we want to go all out! Right now we are in the midst of moving the location because we’ve outgrown the park, but we have nothing set in stone yet. We just know it’s going to be killer!
Why do you believe that zombies are so popular?
Besides the massive amount of media and video games focused on zombies right now, I believe people appeal to the sense of community zombies have. They are monsters who fit the classic notion of the outcast and misfit, yet they have power in numbers and usually work together as a group unlike other monsters. I think this is appealing to people. There is also so much variety in being a zombie and it allows for a lot of freedom and creativity when dressing as or creating a zombie.