Friday, February 12, 2016

Craig Robinson Zombography

Zombies are HUGE. Once a quiet group, shuffling along in the shadows in search of brain food (fish?), zombies have clawed their way out of their graves and shambled into the spotlight of Tinseltown. You've got your zombie movies, zombie sequels, zombie tv shows, zombie tv show spinoffs, zombie talk shows and even zombie walks. Zombies have eclipsed vampires as the most popular creatures in the underworld—living, dead or undead.

The last time I wrote about mainstream horror films was a story for the Prague Post about the production of (yet) another vampire movie—in this case, Van Helsing, shot in Prague's Barrandov Studios. Being a photographer, my shutter finger twitched nervously through the entire tour of the set. I was not allowed to photograph ANYTHING, which for a photographer-slash-movie-slash-slasher-film-fan-slash-writer, was like a kick in the netherworld. Needless to say, there was nothing top secret to spill: the vampires sucked the blood, the Helsing staked the hearts. During my research I discovered that over 700 vampire films had been made since the days of the first film, making vampires the single most popular monsters in film. Ever. And one of those first films was Nosferatu, a German film made before there was even a modern Germany (it was credited as The Weimar Republic back then).

700 films and 100 years later, people grew tired of all the blood sucking and wanted some good old-fashioned brain munching instead (I think the vampire death knell was the production of sparkly-skinned teen vampire movies). I have the good fortune of being good friends with the originators of the first public zombie walk, which occurred on the streets of my hometown of Sacramento, California in 2001. My good friends at Trash Film Orgy gave me my first taste of zombography, and I've been doing it every time I get a chance. I've photographed zombie walks in Sacramento, Berlin and (for the hat trick) Prague.

If you've got zombie walks, then eventually you're going to get a zombie run. Enter: the Prague 5k Zombie Run on October 31, 2015. While Halloween is not a traditional holiday west of the UK, the organizers of the event must have been hip to all those Halloween movies and the general spookiness of that date. What is a zombie run? Zombies shuffle, right? You can outrun them in a wheelchair, right? Well, as the vampire character developed, so did zombies. Starting with the 28 Days Later film franchise, these rotting dudes could RUN YOU DOWN. They were seriously brain starved and made no bones about it. So on that special spooky day last autumn, I climbed Vitkov Hill to check out the action.

Vitkov Hill separates the districts of Karlin and Žižkov in Prague. From the spearhead of the hill, the third largest equestrian statue in the world gazes over a killer view of Prague from 180 degrees. Mounted upon this giant steed is the one-eyed General Jan Žižka, Protestant Hussite warrior and generous giver of his name to the working class quarter of Žižkov below. Just behind the tremendous haunches of the horse lies a massive mausoleum full of dead commies.  When it is not being just another soviet eyesore, the venue hosts art exhibitions and other cultural events. On All Hallows Eve, Mr Ž was all about the Zs. A 5 km route circled the hill and joggers—some of them dressed as zombies—ran the course. For the joggers not dressed like zombies, special squads of hidden zombies jumped out of the bushes and terrorized them.

Czechs can really get into the zombie motif. In addition to the various stages of gore makeup, shredded clothing and decomposition, these Zs ate sausage links soaked in ketchup—pulled from the bellies of fallen joggers. In grand Czech tradition, they even washed their meal down with delicious Czech beer. After the brain buffet, the full zombies sat around drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. As Czech zombies do.

When Craig Robinson is not engaged in zombography, he photographs events, weddings and portraits in Prague, Czech Republic and Berlin, Germany.  Contact the photographer today for a quote.

No comments: