Life among the walking dead

Reuben MeesI’ve never considered myself much of an actor or storyteller, but there’s something about Halloween that brings out the unusual side in all of us.

So as I lay on a wooden table soaked with fake blood that actually tastes quite good but is very sticky — a sawed off knife protruding from the Heart Rock Café T-shirt I got for donating blood — I was as shocked as the people who walked by and said, “Hey, that’s the newspaper guy.”

Not wanting to break character, however, I just groaned and limped toward them with my red, sticky fingers extended. Sorry for accidentally getting the goo in your hair, whomever the young woman was walking down that dark path last Saturday.

As a child I was never much into the zombie movies, although I was a bit of a Friday the 13th nut. And the Exorcist left me with nightmares, although not as bad as the recurring one I had as a young child of a man in black chasing me with a flame-thrower that resurfaced when I was a senior in high school reading a paperback version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

But earlier this year, my fascination with the zombie thriller began when my friends’ two young sons, Blaze and Zane Warren, got me started writing a zombie story in which the undead rise from their graves to wreak havoc on a small town reminiscent of Bellefontaine and two teenagers spending the night in an abandoned mansion.

That reminds me, I should pay Blaze and Zane a visit sometime soon.

So when I went out to cover a practice session for Brookside Fruit Farm’s Haunted Orchard and saw professional makeup artists Dan and Jane Davis of Podunkville FX turning some of my friends into real live members of the walking dead, I found a fascination in me I never knew I had.

I realized that night I wanted to be among the undead cast of the event, and on Friday under went my first makeup session in which Jane Davis slathered me with latex Deathflesh and peeled back layers of wounds. By Saturday, I found myself bathing in the sticky fake blood, and needless to say I had a hauntingly good time helping scare the daylights out of the people of Logan County, several of whom I recognized as they wandered past my hiding spots.

Although it is the first year Brookside’s new owners Chad Anderson and John Fout have had the event, I would say it is a pretty good effort.

For the die-hard thrill seekers looking for a good scare, there are also a number of other events out there this year, including the Haunted Ballfield at West Mansfield, the Haunted Trail and Vortex Tunnel of Doom near Kenton, Haunted Museums at Fisher’s Flea Market in Lakeview and the second year of the Halloween Spooktacular at the HorrOrr Mansion in Bellefontaine.

And for the even more adventuresome, many of the event organizers, including those at Brookside, still are looking for volunteers to fill out their casts. Just stop by at about 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday or Sunday to get in on the action or call the other venues for details. But if you see a red-headed, blood-soaked zombie groaning woefully, don’t ask if he’s the guy from the Examiner. Zombies, after all, don’t remember their previous lives.

Reuben Mees is a staff writer for the Examiner. He can be reached at 592-3060, ext. 118 or via e-mail at