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If it’s undead, Zombiecast.net is all over it

by Mark Burger

Every Monday night at 7 p.m. on the ZombieCast.net podcast, all matters pertaining to the life and death of the undead come to the fore. Whether it’s a film, a television series or even a new book, if it involves zombies it will be discussed, debated and “” appropriately enough “” dissected.

ZombieCast.net is the brainchild of Shawn Freeman, a father of three who counts among his interests music and astronomy, but whose zest for zombies is a direct result of his boyhood love for horror.

“Inspiration started when I was young and my parents were huge zombie/horror fans,” Freeman relates. “My mother graduated in 1968 “” the same year Night of the Living Dead came out “” so they were fans. I grew up on VHS and horror/ action videos “¦ (It was a) joy to the family, sorting through the horror section (of a video store) on a Friday night!” Freeman’s infatuation for all things horrific began right here in Greensboro where he was born. “I was born in Wesley Long Hospital in 1975 and graduated from Ragsdale High School,” he said. Freeman still resides here, and it is where ZombieCast was also born.

ZombieCast.net bills itself as “An Unofficial Guide to All Things Zombie,” and in a culture that seems to have gone zombiecrazy, there’s plenty for Freeman and his on-air partners Norma Late, Matt Bradford and Ted Bracewell to talk about. “We are not pros nor ‘official,’ but just fans of zombies,” Freeman says. “ZombieCast is a ‘zombie comedy-ish’ show, but we do cover all things horror.”

First and foremost, obviously, being zombies.

Hollywood’s first crack at the zombie mythos was the 1932 Bela Lugosi vehicle White Zombie, but it was George A. Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead (1968) “” filmed in beautiful black-andwhite in equally beautiful Pittsburgh “” that really started the ball rolling. Romero would follow his cult classic with Dawn of the Dead (1979) and Day of the Dead (1985), which set new and controversial standards in on-screen gore.

The advent of the 21 st century has seenthe genre go from cult status to mainstream juggernaut. In addition to “The Walking Dead,” one of the most acclaimed series on television today, there have been zombie comedies (Shaun of the Dead, Cockneys vs. Zombies, the recent Life After Beth), zombie teen romances (Warm Bodies), an “A-list” Hollywood blockbuster (World War Z), and even a zombie musical (titled, appropriately enough, Z: A Zombie Musical). The homevideo market is flooded with low-budget zombie movies,

which are almost as plentiful as found-footage horror films. Zombies are big. Zombies are inescapable.

There is also, of course, the existential aspect of the undead. After all, they are us “” or were us. They also tend to eat us. And if we should be wounded by a zombie, chances are we’ll become one. It’s a concept in direct parallel to the contemporary paranoia of today.

“I think the fascination for zombies has been up and down in the past, but since AMC’s (American Movie Classics) ‘The Walking Dead,’ it has opened up to a lot of fans in a good way,” he observes. “Honesty, there was not much (zombie-related) between the gap of the ’80s George Romero zombies and the awesome Thriller fascination until ‘The Walking Dead.'” In less than three years, ZombieCast.net has established itself as a popular entertainment forum, beyond even Freeman’s most upbeat expectations. “Once the (current) team was set, the show went from a few thousand listeners a week to a fast-growing speed in listeners from week to week. Before you knew it, we’d hit over 150 countries.”

Things only got better. “AMC, home of ‘The Walking Dead,’ picked us as the best zombie show of the month, and was actually featured at amc. com,” Freeman notes with pride. “(Then) we got a message from filmmaker Eli Roth, who made the Hostel movies, Cabin Fever, and co-starred with Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds, saying he wanted a partnership in the new horror app of his project The Crypt.”

“We thought it was a fake and said this can’t be true!” Freeman laughs. “Later that day we received a video message from Eli Roth saying he can’t wait to partner up for the app with ZombieCast. We were blown away.”

The podcast’s burgeoning popularity has also opened other doors, including access to actors and filmmakers, and to the behind-the-scenes productions of various projects, including “The Walking Dead.”

“Through our team with these celebrities we have had the good fortune of having these people help our show, plus we’re 50,000 twitter strong “” @DeadReviews @ZombieCastNews are our Twitters “” and we now reach 150,000 each week all from the Piedmont Triad.”

ZombieCast.net can be accessed via iTunes or Stitcher Radio. For more information, visit the official website: www. zombiecast.net !

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