It started, as most zombie apocalypses do, on the metro.
A dead stare here, some ragged clothes there, some blood dribbling down the little boy’s chin in the corner. Fortunately for the living the transiting zombies weren’t a sign of end times; just the Roussel family heading to the Montreal Zombie Walk at Place Des Festivals on Saturday.
The Montreal Zombie Walk is an organized public gathering where participants walk around dressed as zombies. The first official “zombie walk” happened in October 2003 in Toronto. After an exponential gain in popularity for zombies during the mid-to-late 2000s, zombie walks began to emerge around the world. Montreal finally decided to host it’s own in 2009, drawing in larger and scarier crowds each coming year.
Stepping off the Metro and into a crowd of moaning, shrieking and groaning undead was enough to put me on edge, but three-month-old Romy Langevin stared out at the crowd unbothered as her zombie dad tried to eat her brains.
“She just loves to be in the baby carrier,” said Pascal Langevin, fitting the zombie teeth soother back into his daughter’s mouth. Everyone, even kids, are welcomed at the walk.
Another first-time walker was surveying the zombie horde from atop a small hill.
“I can’t wait to send a picture of myself to my daughters in Italy,” said tourist Lory Mondani, gesturing to her zombified face. It goes without saying that dressing up is highly recommended.
“I am crazier than them, for sure. They would never be so brave to come here and do what I am doing now.” Her daughters would no doubt also be impressed with the level of creativity and dedication some zombies put into their looks, she added. All participants can be “zombified” at the on site make-up tent from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the cost of $15.
Amidst the 1,500-something strong zombie horde just one hero stood tall.
Deputy Rick Grimes rode his horse Spirit through the crowd, unphased by the undead packed close around him.
Always the zombie hunter and never the hunted, Charles Colnet is a three-year veteran of the Montreal Zombie Walk.
“The first time I was a cowboy and then the second, and now the third, time I [am] the sheriff,” said Colnet, adding each year he tries to add new accessories to keep his costume original.
This year the sheriff backpack he built himself was playing the sound of Spirit’s hoofbeats as he galloped off into the crowd, only pausing for quick fan photos along the way.
But he wasn’t the only Walking Dead character around. My favourite costume of the day was Michonne, walking like a badass with her two armless and jawless zombies chained to her side.
Eventually the zombies lurched off in a similar direction as the walk got underway around 3 p.m.
Bothered by the screaming walkers, I decided to head for higher ground after an undead bride started chewing on my hair and muttering how I looked good enough to eat.
But that just meant I had zombies clawing at my ankles and screaming “brains” as they reached up towards me and my camera while I stood on top of a cement pylon.
A guy with an “I’ve-seen-this-all-before” expression walked past with a picket sign that read, “The End Is Nigh,” and surrounded by screeching and twitching undead, I couldn’t help but agree.
The only upside to my imminent doom was seeing Colnet still charging through the crowd and noticing the one guy who dressed up as an elephant to photobomb the zombies waving up at me.
With files by Sabrina Giancioppi
Photos by Keith Race and Michelle Gamage