Archive for the ‘ZOMBIES’ Category

The Talking Dead


It’s the story that never dies…

College journalists are notoriously poor interviewers. So for the past three years, SPJ has trained them to chat up their sources by quizzing corpses. This free program is called Zombie Stories, and it can easily spread to your city.


It works like this…

Students don free white Zombie Stories T-shirts and venture outside to interview professionally made-up zombies – each carrying a bottle of fake (?) blood. If students ask stupid questions, they get doused. Once their shirts are all red, they’re dead. But if they pose solid questions (see below) they win cash and prizes.


It happened again one week ago…

On the Saturday night before Halloween, Zombie Stories visited Atlanta – on the exact spot where a key scene from the first episode of The Walking Dead was filmed. It’s an alleyway near a pub called, appropriately enough for journalists, Sidebar – where SPJ once hosted another participatory event called Putting the ME in Social Media.

SPJer Amanda Rabines flew up from Miami on her own dime to become a zombie. Here’s her dead-eye view of the creepy evening…


By Amanda Rabines…

It’s the time of the year when I drive past Halloween-decorated houses admiringly, and finally dish out the darkest clothes in my wardrobe in accordance to “fashion laws.”

For this year’s CMA Fall National Media Convention, I embraced that darker side with more black and less life. I turned into a zombie for the sake of journalism, and it wasn’t my first time.

This is the second year I participate in Zombie Stories, an event organized by SPJ Region 3. It’s a workshop to die for, if you want to be punny.

The premise is that journalism students are given an exclusive interview with the undead, and as SPJ Region 3 Director Michael Koretzky says, “If you can interview a zombie you can interview anyone.”

So Gorehound Productions’ Lucas Godfrey painted me an unhealthy looking green and splattered some fake blood on my face to make me interview-ready.

This year’s Zombie Stories took place in a familiar setting to anyone who watches AMC’s The Walking Dead.

I along with seven other zombies shuffled and stumbled our way through downtown Atlanta, to the scene where Rick Grimes first sees the horror of the zombie apocalypse, fresh from a coma, too…

…or, at least, that’s what Bryce McNeil, assistant director for student media at Georgia State University, told us (because I’ve never actually watched the show).

Zombie Stories took place in an alley next to the Sidebar, and I did my best to stay in character by growling and getting uncomfortably close to the students who came to interview me.

If a student asked me a question resembling the boring cliché “what’s it like to be a zombie,” we poured fake blood on their T-shirts. At the end of the event, nearly everyone had some traces of blood.

But after a three-day journalism convention, these students were very quipped with their questions. I was impressed, to say the least.

Here are some of the questions and answers that stood out…

Jarred Todd / Georgia State University Perimeter College

Q. What influences your decision into what horde to join?
A. The freshness of their style, or the freshness of those they kill.

Q. Which body part do you go for first when you corner your victims?
A. The neck. My wife was a little fast, but I got her.

Zoe Debo / Hudson Valley Community College

Q. Can Zombies procreate?
A. The females will kill the males and vomit into their skulls, to procreate. We can reproduce in a couple of hours.

Q. How long can you go before eating flesh again?
A. Usually can go for a couple of days on a brain.

Kayla Ebner / Roger Williams University

Q. Which presidential candidate would you rather eat? Who do you think would taste best?
A. Trump.

On our way back to our hotels I flipped the switch and interviewed some of the winners – like Kayla Ebner from Rhode Island.

She said she wanted to get political because that’s what seems to be on everyone’s mind, especially with elections around the corner.

“I really wanted to bring in the election because it’s big right now, it’s a relevant thing, and I wanted to put a funny spin on it because we’re interviewing zombies, and that’s not a regular thing,” Ebner said.

Zoe Debo was asking some hardball questions, focusing on getting information necessary to understand more about zombies.

“I went in there with a motive. I wanted to give humans the most information about the zombies that they could get,” Debo said, after reflecting on what she learned. “Having blood poured on your face really helps to remind you and drill into your head that you really need to ask for their names and you can’t forget their names.”

Some of the other zombies had plans to hangout with the journalists after Zombie Stories.

I’d like to think the stories we shared painted a better pictures of zombies in general. That even the ghouls that arise in late October have a story to share, and if done correctly, can amount to better relationships overall.


Atlanta zombie photos by Kayla Ebner, Roger Williams University

SPZ: Un-Dead Dave

Dave Cuillier

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, SPJ president Dave Cuillier died in New Orleans. By 6:30 p.m., he was undead.

Cuillier was one of 20 re-animated corpses who confronted 75 college journalists at Zombie Stories, the participatory interview program sponsored by SPJ regions 3 and 12 and SPJ Florida.

While Cuillier had (literally) stiff competition – a zombie pirate wench, a zombie monk in flowing robes, a zombie clown in a fright wig smoking a cigar, and a zombie bride in a blood-splattered white dress – he attracted the largest group of creeped-out reporters…
Dave Cuillier

But it ain’t easy becoming undead.

Cuillier sat in the lobby of the New Orleans Marriott while a makeup artist rotted out his presidential face with latex. This being New Orleans on the weekend before Halloween, very few people looked twice at the spectacle.

Later this week, we’ll update you on how the rest of Zombie Stories went. For now, here’s the before-during-after of Dave Cuillier’s zombification…

Dave Cuillier

The zombie king & queen

Richard Riggs
Even zombies need leaders. Meet Richard Riggs, founder of Krewe of the Living Dead.

By day, Riggs works in a marina in Madisonville, Louisiana. By night, he leads a zombie gang that’s known citywide by its intials, KOLD.

The 38-year-old Riggs was born and raised in New Orleans, which is where 100 journalists will interview 30 of KOLD’s members this Saturday evening.

Gideon GrudoWe call it Zombie Stories, and its director (and former SPJ national board member) Gideon Grudo says it couldn’t happen without KOLD…

What really strikes you is how they’re simultaneously fully devoted to anything undead – just follow the group’s Facebook page to see what I mean – and then very laid back about its culture and “rules.” They don’t care how you feel about the undead or what level of fandom you fall under. If you like a good zombie, they’ll crack a beer with you. That’s more than I can say for some holier-than-thou journalists out there.

Neither KOLD (nor Zombie Stories) would exist if not for a largely forgotten 1981 John Landis horror-comedy. Recalls Riggs…

My mother and aunt took me to see American Werewolf in London when I was 7 – and it horrified me. That pretty much changed the course of what I was interested in. From that night on, I went from a little kid obsessed with Star Wars and sci-fi to being obsessed with Famous Monsters of Filmland and Fangoria magazine. The first Zombie movie I saw was Return of the Living Dead, which didn’t impress me too much. But it did lead me to rent George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, which impressed the hell out of me.

In 2011, Riggs launched his krewe – basically, a social group of horror-flick fans. These days, KOLD’s pub crawls can turn out 150 zombies who shuffle from bar to bar.

Bryanna Leger
If Riggs is King of the Zombies, Bryanna Leger is their queen. Although her family thinks she’s crazy.

Leger is assisting Riggs with Zombie Stories because her day job requires her to be hyper-organized: “I am the Attendee Coordinator for the New Orleans Investment Conference. It hosts as many as 600 attendees and has many speakers who are well-known in the political and investment arena.”

Leger has been a KOLD member for about a year and a half. But it was a fresh breakup and not an old movie that got her involved.

“I had recently gotten out of a long-term relationship and was looking for fun things to get involved in and ways to occupy my mind and time,” Leger says. “I’ve had a morbid fascination with all things horror for as long as I can remember.”

Her relatives never understood that…

I come from a very close family, and although they may not understand all of my interests, they’re aware of them – and love and respect me unconditionally. My 78-year-old grandmother thinks that zombies are ‘disgusting’ – but she’s helped me make some of my costumes.

Zombie Stories

Think you can extract similar quotes from other zombies?

Then come to Zombie Stories.

You’ll interview real (and real interesting) people. If you can cobble together three good questions and elicit three good answers, you’ll win the grand prize: Getting made up as a zombie and embarking on a KOLD zombie pub crawl.

Of course, if you ask dumb questions, you get punished. KOLD zombies will smear your shirt with fake blood. Then again, we give you the shirt. And there’s no cost to play. So even if you suck as an interviewer, you walk away with a free (if bloody) shirt.

Want to know more? Email Grudo at

Zombie Stories is sponsored by SPJ regions 3 and 12 and SPJ Florida, the 2010 Chapter of the Year. So now you know who to blame.



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