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A night to remember at the Carolina Theatre on Halloween

by Mark Burger

Everyone who’s ever seen Night of the Living Dead can recite it …

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara …”

And, now, they’re coming to get you “¦ If the ongoing “Screen Screams” series isn’t enough to chill your blood, the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro further celebrates the Halloween holiday with “ZombieFest,” the biggest, baddest, bloodiest bash of this season, scheduled “” appropriately enough “” for Friday, Oct. 31.

The evening’s fearful festivities include a “Zombie Walk” (along a blood-red carpet, perhaps?), trick-or-treating, costume contests, door prizes, Halloween-themed cocktails (for grown-up ghouls), undead vendors selling all sorts of monstrous memorabilia, music by CFBG (no word on whether they’ll be playing “The Zombie Stomp” from The Horror of Party Beach), and undoubtedly a few shocks and surprises.

The event concludes with a special screening of George A. Romero’s original zombie classic, Night of the Living Dead (1968), widely and fondly regarded by many as “the greatest movie ever made in Pittsburgh.”

Film critic and historian Budd Wilkins, who has also overseen “Screen Screams,” will introduce the film, which will be shown uncut, uninterrupted, and in the glorious black-and-white in which it was originally filmed. (No one under 18 will be admitted to the screening due to its violent content.)

“ZombieFest is going to be the biggest Halloween party in town,” Wilkins predicts. “We’re encouraging people to come to the Carolina Theatre for their party with the tag-line ‘Bring your Halloween party to us.’ “ZombieFest has it all: costume contests, a Zombie Walk, zombie cocktails for those of drinking age, (and) a ton of door prizes including gift certificates, Night of the Living Dead memorabilia and much more. We’re securing new items every day. We will have some groups who will have vendor tables passing out samples and info, and giving out candy in ‘trick-or-treat’ fashion. We are trying to tap into the ‘Walking Dead’ fan-base and are planning on raffling off a crossbow like the one Daryl Dixon uses in the show.

“We want to encourage people to come made up as zombies in order to enter contests, but they can also dress up in regular Halloween contests. We’ll have three separate contests “” one for Best Zombie Costume, one for Best Halloween Costume and one for Best Makeup Artist, as we plan to have makeup artists on hand. Depending on the number of vendor titles we’ll set up, we’ll also have a Best Vendor Table Design contest.”

In addition he said, “there will be ghost tours of the Carolina Theatre, which is known to be haunted, and everyone who attends will receive a copy of the best genre magazine in print today, Video Watchdog. We have 1,000 copies to give away, which were donated to us by the publisher, Tim Lucas, an internationally known expert on horror, cult and genre films, a fiction writer, and a prolific commentator on genre DVD releases.” Lucas is also the author of the long-awaited and critically acclaimed biography Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark,” the most comprehensive volume devoted to the work of genre filmmaker Mario Bava.

Regarding “Screen Screams,” which concludes this Wednesday with John Carpenter’s 1988 sci-fi/social allegory cult classic They Live, the series “has done very well,” Wilkins says. “The mix of ’70s and ’80s films has attracted a broad audience from all age ranges. The Thing was our strongest turnout so far, and the gentleman who won The Thing poster autographed by John Carpenter said ‘You made my millennium’ “” which isn’t too shabby! We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the format and the venue, and I think the door prizes don’t hurt, either.”

Wilkins is hard at work preparing yet another film series at the Carolina Theatre for November, a selection of classic film noir thrillers to be called, appropriately enough, “November Noir.” The schedule and film line-up have yet to be finalized.

For Wilkins, a life-long fan of horror, science-fiction and fantasy, this Halloween season has not been a nightmare, but a dream come true “” and ZombieFest is clearly the culmination of all things spooky and scary. !

WANNA go?

The Carolina Theatre is located at 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. The party begins at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. All tickets $10. The film is scheduled to begin at 10 pm (18+ older, please). For more information, email buddwilkins@buddwilkins.com or leave a message on his blog: www.buddwilkins. com. For tickets or more information, you can also call 336.333.2605 or visit the official Carolina Theatre website: www.carolinatheatre.com.

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