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For the Love of Zombies 

On Oct. 13, the undead will wander downtown--seriously!

Lock your doors, and stay away from the windows. They are coming!

On Saturday, Oct. 13, our town will be visited by a tormented, bloody mob of beings. They will be groaning and grunting, in search of something to eat. What's on the menu? Your flesh!

Downtown and Fourth Avenue will be the scene of Tucson's second Zombie Walk, where zombie fans are due to dress up in their best gruesome duds and bloody makeup. The event is free to all. Tucson's first zombie walk took place last year and was sparsely attended--but event organizer Natalia Lopez hopes for a much larger crowd this year.

Lopez describes a zombie walk as "a whole bunch of people (dressed like zombies) meandering en masse to a destination ... just for the heck of it." Zombie walks occur around the world. One of the largest events drew a crowd of 800-plus people in Pittsburgh in 2006.

"Zombies are one of the many things I like," admits Lopez. "I am a big horror-movie fan. You can't take zombie movies too seriously. ... They have to have just enough comedy and horror to grab my attention."

Ironically, Lopez didn't always enjoy the horror genre. "To look at me as a kid, I was terrified of horror movies. My parents tried to keep me away from those movies. ... I was always scared of things because of my imagination."

But as she got older, Lopez began to use her imagination to her benefit. When her parents hosted Halloween parties, Lopez did makeup for the kids in the area. She has applied her makeup skills at Old Tucson's Nightfall (as a crazy ax lady) and last year's zombie walk.

Lopez says her makeup designs are an extension of her art. While she works by day in the customer-service field, by night, she creates eclectic pieces that lean toward the dark side. Using mixed media, including clay, latex, pencils and digital images, Lopez produces a variety of works that are not for the faint-hearted. One devilish beast is slimed with blood, while another creature has fingers protruding from a large mouth with sharp teeth. Her gallery can be viewed at demonicneko.deviantart.com.

Lopez says there is a stigma attached to creating dark art.

"People think you must be a serial killer and want to do bad things to people. Getting out my anger on paper is really cathartic. It doesn't hurt anyone. ... It irks me (when people) can't tell reality from fiction. I can stand buckets of (fake) blood. Show me real blood, and I'll freak out."

Lopez insists she is a big kid and likes to be silly. "I am the least serious person I know. ... I just am. Try not to hurt anyone else and have fun when you can."

Her latest fun foray into the horror genre comes in the form of a short film that she wrote. It takes place on a sunny day in the desert. A lone woman walks down a dirt path whistling a sweet tune. Suddenly, the music changes, and she realizes she is being followed--by zombies! To find out what happens, check out the clever Zombie Manners on YouTube.com.

"I am really proud of it," she says. "It's fun and another way for my art to be viewed." Lopez is also the makeup artist for the short film.

As Tucson's zombie walk approaches, Lopez will be experimenting with makeup for the event. She looks forward to seeing what others create and seeing the surprised expressions from passers-by.

"The first time you scare someone, and they freak out, it's almost like a rush. It's really fun to scare someone--not in a bad way. I don't want to traumatize people. When they realize you are not a monster, you get that laugh."

For more information about Tucson's Zombie Walk, visit movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/Tucson_Zombie_Walk or www.ultimate-diva.com/zombie.

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