© 2011 RobertPaulNixon.com
When she’s not slinking around graveyards and posing for alluring photographs, our first ever ‘Bone-a-fied‘ SHE-CREATURE, Thea Munster, is an extremely busy ghoul! In 2003 she started The Toronto zombie walk (or TZW), from there she hit the ground running — or at least staggering aggressively forward, never to look back. As you may know, “Zombie Walks” are now an international phenomenon and are a staple in the horror community.
Having a knack for making gore from kitchen supplies, Thea prefers an old school zombie style. She teaches classes to young people at local libraries and schools on how to make their own ghastly zombie effects.
She has been recruited by George Romero to bring zombies to the premieres of DIARY OF THE DEAD and SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, as well as filled theaters with zombies for the world premiere of FIDO and Toronto After Dark’s Zombie Appreciation Day.
Leading the hordes of the undead masses has earned her the status of one of the foremost ladies of horror in the great white north.
She is a skilled video and sound editor, makes short videos in her spare time and works on horror scripts. Thea Munster was the subject of the documentary BEG FOR BRAINS and has been a zombie spooksberson on CNN, CBC Radio 1, FOX TV, Global, and City TV, as well as being featured in many publications and has taken time out of her busy after-life to answer some of our questions!
HHCF: Tell us about your namesake! This whole issue is centered on The Munsters, Grampa specifically, how did this show and Al Lewis influence you?
TM: I was given the nickname Munster when I was around 15 by my friends, mainly due to the fact that I was always on the horror edge of the scene. But, I always considered this a compliment, being a huge fan of The Munsters. I have related to The Munsters, not just for their existence in a unique horror world, but also for their quirky sense of humour. The oddball scenarios they brought to the screen, as well as, the dynamic of monsters in the everyday world still leaves me in stitches. Not to mention the cast of characters was amazing, each loveable in their own deadly way. Al Lewis, Grampa Munster, was specifically dear to my heart, because of his sense of mischief and his devilish grin on screen. As well as the fact that he was a political activist and stood up for what he believed in off screen. The “anarchist” grampa I never had…
HHCF: Did you have a Horror Host growing up in Canada?
TM: Well, I grew up in Victoria, BC and there was no horror hosts on TV in that area, that I know of. But I am thankful that we had Hilarious House of Frankenstein when I grew up. I think the Vincent Price prose and groovy monster antics were the closest I came to seeing a horror host until I moved to Ontario. When I moved to Ontario I discovered Offbeat Cinema, from Buffalo. Those beatniks played and are still introducing and playing great B-movies at 2am on Saturdays. Their show was the first time I saw Corpse Grinders and Invasion of the Blood Monsters. They even played Frankenstein’s Daughter quite recently.
HHCF: What are some of your other influences?
TM: Most of my influences have come in the form of monsters, whether they be gilled or re-animated. I have always related to the traditional monster, the outcast of society, who acts as he/she sees fit, even if it doesn’t jive with everyone else. I have been extremely influenced by The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, Aquanetta’s gorilla girl in Jungle woman, and the vacant flesh eaters of Night of the Living Dead, as well as all the talent that went into making these films.
What was it like to be a zombie extra in Survival of the Dead?
TM: Being on the set of Survival of the Dead was three of the most amazing nights of my life. The scene I’m in was filmed in Port Dover, which is a town in Ontario known for its Friday the 13th biker fest. It was late fall, and right on Lake Erie, so the weather was freezing! Despite the conditions, I was thrilled to be there and through the exhaustive overnight shoots and cold weather I just couldn’t stop smiling. It was very hard to invoke my inner dead pan zombie when the camera was finally on. I learned a lot about being a zombie on a Romero film. Here’s how it works; there are the Main Zombies, then there is Background Zombies, which is what I was….. BG zombie. The main zombies are in the ACTRA union, also most of them were stunt men/women, due to the fact they get shot, as well as, lurch through explosions and such. A couple of BG zombies got to be shot, but I wasn’t so lucky. Maybe in the next sequel…..;) Everyone on set, including the cast and crew seemed to be happy to be working with the legend. There was a definite jovial mood on set. The BG zombies work pretty far from Romero and take directions from an assistant director who yells through a megaphone, since we are spread pretty far apart and across a long dock. George is hundreds of yards away relaying directions to the AD. So we had no chance to talk with the MAN, since he was obviously busy, which is understandable. But, a few months later, I was called by his producer to bring some zombies and help make an intro for Survival of the Dead. The idea was that we’re George Romero’s zombie film crew. This was another incredible experience, since this time we got to work closely with George, coming up with ideas and joking around while making the intro. It was a very casual and intimate experience and probably the top day of my “un-life”. Sometimes, I truly feel like the luckiest ghoul in the world.
HHCF: Since you’ve started this movement what are some of your favorite zombie memories?
TM: Well, last year at The Toronto Zombie Walk we had Oderus Orungus from GWAR as our Grand Marshall. His speech was really amazing, and he really rallied the undead! They were in a frenzy by the time it was through. I have to mention I was very stressed out due to the phallic nature of his costume and the fact that there are many kids that come to the zombie walk. I thought his choice of covering this part of his costume with a Toronto Zombie Walk T-shirt was quite hilarious. We also played a 35mm film print of Return of the Living Dead after the walk, which for me was heaven. I have always wanted to see this on the big screen, but to see it with hundreds of groaning zombies is a whole world better. The Toronto Zombie Walk’s first encounter with Romero in the flesh was when we were invited to join George Romero on the red carpet for the Toronto premiere of Diary of the Dead. The zombie atmosphere that night was giddy even! A few years later we threw a special zombie walk for Romero when he got his Canadian citizenship. Toronto International Film festival was great in arranging this occasion and played NOTLD in the middle of downtown Toronto for all the zombies! It was a gore-geous evening! Besides the big stuff, I remember having some great times in the early days when we just starting to get numbers, and before I had to get permits. Our walk through a downtown mall was priceless, especially when there was a giant fashion show going on. Of course the zombies had to grab for the models on the catwalk, as the models tried to keep straight faces. Oh….there’s so many more times. Being dead is fun!
HHCF: Could you share some secrets on how to do effective and inexpensive zombie makeup with common household items?
TM: My Favourite blood recipe~
I call this blood B-Movie blood. It’s the brightest, old-school Hershel l Gordon Lewis style blood. It also tastes great!
1 Cup of Water
1 Tablespoon of flour
1 pack Cherry Kool-Aid
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
Bring the water, flour, and sugar to a boil. Let it simmer for 15 minutes, then add Cherry Kool-Aid and stir. Let it cool before applying to cuts and gashes. As far as rotting flesh, liquid latex is a ghoul’s best friend. You can pretty much make any wound or gash out of liquid latex and toilet paper. But, if you don’t have liquid latex, you can also use white glue and TP. Spread a layer of white glue across “infected area”, add a layer of toilet paper. Add another layer of glue, then this time when you add a second layer of paper make a slit in the center of it. After securing the TP, pull up the edges of the slit, like skin, exposing the centre of a wound. Then fill the laceration with blood. Use turmeric and cocoa powder around the edges of the tear for a bruising effect. I like to add some rice for maggots at this point.
HHCF: Finally, what is some advice you could give someone who wants to organize a zombie walk in their community?
TM: I guess it’s important to see what type of laws your city has for public demonstrations, since I think in Toronto you don’t need to get permits until you have over 600 people. Of course, I didn’t do any checking myself, but I wouldn’t want to get anyone in trouble. Besides that, I think times have changed a little, be sure to emphasize that this is a day for zombies, not zombie hunters, we had a lot of problems last year with people bringing real bats and axes and stuff. So make sure you have a weapons policy. Go grass roots, if you can. You don’t want to have to compromise for a sponsor. Zombie flyer days!!! These are my favourite days, dressing up as zombies and flyering the streets…people love it when they have to unstick flyers from your bloody hands to read the word and it really peaks their curiosity. You could even have a doomsayer on the corner ringing a bell, anything to get the word out in a cheap way.
© 2011 Suzi Staheli