Tag Archives: halloween

Ten Things Not to Do on Halloween

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San Francisco has lots of frightful fun happening all over the city this Halloween. But even though there are many events to choose from, here is a list of ten things to avoid doing tonight:

1. Do not dress up as an Ebola patient. Not cool. Same goes for a sexy Ebola nurse.

2. Do not dress up as a Kansas City Royals fan. Super not cool.

3. Do not tip over a Muni bus in celebration of the Giants’ victory—just chill out downtown at the parade instead.

4. Do not roll a pumpkin down Lombard Street. Who knows which way it will go?

5. Do not drink a bottle of pumpkin-flavored vodka and then try carving a jack-o-lantern. Put the knife down. If you have not done it by now, you have missed your chance.

6. Do not eat an entire bag of fun-sized Butterfingers without at least two packs of dental floss. You will be picking at your teeth for days.

7. Do not mess with the hundreds of bike riders filling the streets for Critical Mass. There is nothing more terrifying than being chased by Freddy Krueger on a bike.

8. Do not catcall girls in revealing costumes. One of them might be making a YouTube video.

9. Do not mess with the Killer Clown. There is nothing funny about that fool.

10. Do not dress your dog up as a giant mutant spider. Some brave soul will try squishing that adorable monster.

 

Talking Dead with the Walking Dead

The zombies are coming. (Henry Perez/Xpress Magazine)
The zombies are coming. (Henry Perez/Xpress Magazine)

It had been years since the outbreak. I had not seen an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia since the start of the apocalypse. Mac had just lost his “mass” and Frank did not want to do the dishes. I wish my problems were as petty in these times of suffering. My short, dry sentences (that you need to read in a Max Payne-like solemn tone) should reflect that.

During my daily search in the Castro for canned food and some god damn Wi-Fi, I saw something horrifying. It was an old poster for the Folsom Street Fair, the last one before the outbreak. But next to the poster was a herd of zombies. A flock? A horde? I am going to go with a business of zombies.

Turned at such a young age. (Michael Leri/Xpress Magazine)
Turned at such a young age. (Michael Leri/Xpress Magazine)

This business of zombies was creeping ever so steadily towards me. I panicked. I peed a little. But that could have helped because I disguised myself as one of them fit right in. Another terrified survivor blending in by sheer luck (and the lack of hygiene) handed me a pamphlet, one telling me that this was the first annual Zombie Walk in San Francisco.

The Zombie Walk is a popular thing to do in other big cities like Toronto, but San Francisco has never seen one until now. People “dressed” up as the living dead patrol the Castro district in search of “canned food” (I am assuming the flyer meant brains) for people less fortunate than themselves.

One of the zombies I stumbled across had a great disguise. He could have fooled me. He almost did. Good thing I did not have a shell or two loaded into my shotgun. His name was Greg Todaro. Greg just moved to the city in January and wanted to join because of his love for the long-dead TV show The Walking Dead.

Greg Todaro trying to feed on a local zombie cheerleader. (Michael Leri/Xpress Magazine)
Greg Todaro trying to feed on a local zombie cheerleader. (Michael Leri/Xpress Magazine)

“It was a lot of fun,” says Greg, as he tried not to disturb the business of zombies. “Some of the people in San Francisco get surprised by us but some take it in stride, and we are just walking around like everyone else.”

Greg’s enthusiasm was the end of him since nearby walker noticed and began to gnaw on his neck. I kept my cool and played dead – and peed again.

The business of dead San Franciscans began knocking and grunting by nearby restaurants on the street, disturbing the customers as they ate their rations, and took pictures of the passing once-living humans. These distractions allowed me to sneak and shamble up to the front of the pack where I met the lead zombie, Ilan Kaim.

Ilan wondered why his kind did not have a Zombie Walk in San Francisco; so he took it upon himself to start one.

Ilan Kaim right before he tried to feast on my flesh. (Michael Leri/Xpress Magazine)
Ilan Kaim right before he tried to feast on my flesh. (Michael Leri/Xpress Magazine)

“It allows people to express themselves and have good time,” groans Kaim as his few ounce of humanity oozed through his rotting pirate costume outfit.

His aim was not only fun but to gather food for the people in need, which came to fruition thanks to a food bank in Marin.

A zombie’s natural instinct is to spread its disease, which is what Kaim plans to do with the Zombie Walk until he breaks a record. Infecting a few dozen people for just one year is not enough for him.

Other survivors managed to break free from the zombies, one of which was Jennifer Xiao, who said she was lucky to be alive. Her courage was put to the test when she was take selfies in front of the desiccated piles of flesh.

“I’m glad I survived,” says Jennifer between breaths of relief. “I just wanted to take pictures with the zombies. I’ll definitely come back next year.”

I wanted to say the same. That I would return next year for supplies and the chance to live on the edge when the near-apocalypse already has me teetering on its pointy tip. But I cannot. I was foolishly bitten at the end of the journey as I tried to document this first annual Zombie Walk in San Francisco. I will turn soon but as I wave farewell to my humanity, maybe next year I can say hello to the chance to walk among my new undead brethren.

Top Ten Scariest Video Games


I am not too much of a horror movie buff. Jason Vorhees is merely a retired hockey goalie that hates horny teenagers, from what I have heard and Freddy Krueger, and to me, is the last fighter in the latest Mortal Kombat. I prefer to pick up a controller for my frightful fix especially when the leaves turn orange and the pumpkins come out near Halloween’s eve. Fall is the best time of year to celebrate the scariest video games, especially with the genre’s recent resurgence.

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The classic Resident Evil 4 is not a traditionally scary game, but it succeeds phenomenally well at establishing panic and terror. The way in which the Ganados slowly shamble toward Leon evokes a creepy sensation and the musty, gross environments allow these tense moments to take place in a setting with actual atmosphere. Adrenaline always runs high no matter the enemy but the creepy Regenerators and Iron Maidens are the single most terrifying enemy in gaming. When I first came across them, I freaked out and did not play the game for two whole months. It shook me like no other.

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The Last of Us is not a traditional horror game, but horror is one of the many hats The Last of Us wears. In a few areas, the designers really take the hostility of the infected and put them in some dark, dank environments, turning The Last of Us into a pretty effective horror game. Tiptoeing around was tense, but causing a ruckus brought forth the panic and terror that Resident Evil 4 did so well. Horror is just another aspect that The Last of Us nails.

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Silent Hill: Downpour gets a bad reputation for being one of the many sour eggs of the Silent Hill franchise, but while it lacked the nuance of earlier titles, it had its moments. Moments of screaming organs and dark, creepy rooms offset the wonky controls. The creepiness is established beautifully through the fantastic sound design, that makes every gross sound even more gross. While some fans wince at the sheer mention of Silent Hill: Downpour, it had enough of the franchise’s spirit to make it one of the scariest games out there.

7 alien
The xenomorph stopped being scary at about 1979 after the movie Alien came out. The subsequent Alien movies ditched horror in favor of action, which, while not bad on principle, let the alien become more cool than frightening. Not Alien: Isolation. There is one alien in the whole game and it is dreadful. The way he stalks around slowly looking for something to kill. The way you can hear him scurry though the vents. Every possible action the alien can do is a way to remind the player that he is superior. He can kill you. And he will. Isolation re-aliens the alien in the best possible way in a way in which the movies could not do.

6 dead space
While it can be a toss up between Dead Space and Dead Space 2, Dead Space edges out its sequel because of the mystique surrounding everything. The fear of just not knowing what the necromorphs are gives the foes a sense of mystery that only adds to their overall scariness. Gameplay is mainly derived from Resident Evil 4 with all the same positive aspects with a few changes that make it more fluid but just as tense. Dead Space is a shining example of how to do a horror game in the modern day. If only Dead Space 3 had carried on the series’ horror roots.

5 sh3
The version of Silent Hill 3 that I played was basically broken. The framerate hovered in the teens and the sound was garbled for about a quarter of my playthrough. Despite those issues, Silent Hill 3‘s journey twisted my mind in a way only a Silent Hill game could do. The misty town offered itself to more psychological scares over jump scares, meaning it was more of a constant sense of crushing dread over a few monster closets. I did not want to be in Silent Hill but at the same time, I did not want to leave. Just do not watch the movie.

4 outlast
Outlast arms you with… a camera. It is not even a great camera too. This sense of helplessness may be a little frustrating at times, but avoiding mental patients and naked crazy doctors puts you in an easy position to get scared witless. Having to hide and run within the disgusting asylum was a tense experience that did not overstay its welcome. That is a good thing too since I do not know if my heart could take much of that game.

3 tew
Shinji Mikami, that man who was one of the key minds behind the whole survival horror genre, promised to come back to the genre in a way that would be faithful it its origins. I guess he saw what Capcom did with Resident Evil and could not sit comfortably knowing they destroyed his baby.

Enter The Evil Within, which combines all the best parts of Resident Evil 4, Dead Space, and Silent Hill and funnels them into one package. The twisted setting reeks of Silent Hill. The shooting and overall design is both a healthy mix of Dead Space and Resident Evil 4. In essence, it is equal parts psychological horror, survival horror, and action horror and all in the same game. The fact that each pillar is phenomenal is an achievement worthy of a high spot on this list.

2 slender
All of these games so far have been the result of me looking for a good scare. Not Slender. Stalking the woods looking for pages while the mythical Slenderman creeps around is utterly crushing in a way that I almost cannot experience. It could be the middle of the afternoon and I would still almost poop my pants in terror. Slender is free too, showing that true horror can be done on a budget.

1 pt
P.T. should be for me. It is free. It is on the PS4 and the famed Hideo Kojima is behind it. But I cannot bring myself to play more than thirty seconds. It is too cramped, too quiet, and too disturbing for me to ever actively want to play it. It brilliantly plays on the player’s expectations in the most devious of ways. Going through the same hallway allows the player to get comfortable then BOOM, you soil yourself and need to exit the game. I do not know if Silent Hills, the game in which this is a playable teaser to, will hold the same amount of scares, but that does not take away from P.T. being the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Halloween Candy Edition

Halloween is just around the corner but what candies are the best to get? Photo by Tami Benedict
Halloween is just around the corner but what candies are the best to get? (Tami Benedict/ Xpress Magazine)

Halloween is only a few days away, and soon we are going to stuff our faces with our favorite Halloween candy. But what are the best and worst candies to sink your teeth into? Well, I am here to help you make that decision. I took recommendations and tried some of the best and some of the worst Halloween candy that I could get my hands onto.

Marshmallow Pumpkin Peeps: Peeps are probably one of my favorite holiday time candy. I am a sucker for marshmallows with thin layers of sugar over them. With the cute faces and pumpkin design, I am easily sucked in and can eat them for days. I have even used Peeps for making s’mores, I cannot get enough of them. Rating: Good

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Hershey’s Candy Corn Candy BitsThis candy was recommended to me, so I thought I would give it a shot. This is not a candy that I would have typically bought since I am not a big fan of white chocolate or candy corn. My initial thought as I was eating was that this candy was way too sweet. It tasted mostly like white chocolate and it did not have a candy corn taste at all. The candy was not bad, but I would only be able to eat one a day because of its sweetness. Rating: Good

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Twizzlers Black Licorice: This was another candy I was asked to try and I sat in the store for a while staring at the licorice, slowly knowing that what I was about to do was not going to be fun. Before trying it, I played with the nub in my hand debating if it was really worth trying, in the name of journalism it was. The black licorice tasted bitter, not sweet at all. All I can say is if a kid gets this type of candy for Halloween, I would feel really bad for them. Rating: Ugly

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Milky Way Caramel Apple: I saw this while browsing and thought why not, I will give that one a try too! I actually really enjoyed this candy. It tasted just like a milky way, with a caramel center, but with a slightly sweet apple flavor. I like it because the apple is not overpowering and the candy is not too sweet. It is a perfect little mixture in one little chocolate. Rating: Good

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Brach’s Candy Corn: Candy corn, everyone’s favorite Halloween treat, except for me. I am not a fan of candy corn, I feel like it tastes like chalk. I think candy corn is really cute to look at but I do not recommend eating it. The candy has a weird texture and the taste is not something I am a fan of. Rating: Bad

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins: This is another favorite Halloween candy and one I actually enjoy. Mixing peanut butter and chocolate is two of the greatest things ever, then put it into a shape of a pumpkin and I am one happy person. The best thing about these is they come in individual packs, so I do not have to buy an entire bag to enjoy them. The pumpkins can be a little sweet, so buy one pack in case you cannot handle the sweetness. Rating: Good

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Caramel Apple PopsEverybody likes a good sucker, and the caramel apple pops have a good mixture of sweet and sour. My only complaint is the toughness of the caramel, it tends to get stuck to your teeth and then you are in a battle with yourself, trying to get your teeth clean. This sucker does help if you have a sweet tooth though and will keep you busy for a while when chewing the caramel off it. Rating: Good

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Hopefully this Halloween is full of a successful and good candy run. Happy Halloween!

Beats n’ Stuff #4: 47 sounds from a haunted house

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Boo!

It is almost the spookiest day of the year (Halloween!!!), and if you are still pining over whatever you are going to dress up as to your PBR-stocked parties, then I have created the perfect mix of upbeat and festive tunes to get you in the trick-or-treating spirit.

In this week’s Beats n’ Stuff vol. 4, “47 sounds from a haunted house,” the likes of Japan’s LLLL, Britain’s Joy Division, and America’s Grimes, Dead Man’s Bones, and the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince sit side by side to deliver ghastly tunes. Halloween’s the best time of the year, full of cheap candy, fun costumes, and best of all my annual Disneyland trip (sorry guys)!

1.) “Spider Web” by LLLL

LLLL are a noisy electronic band hailing from Tokyo. Their incoherent vocals and eerie sounding beats completely took me by surprise earlier this year when Zoom Lens put out their latest album, and I think the album as a whole, in particular this track “Spider Web,” is perfect for the Halloween season.

Recommended if you like: Fingers like snakes and spiders in your hair

2.) “Nightmusic” by Grimes

I was lucky enough to have the holy experience of seeing Grimes live at FYF this year in LA, and that girl is no joke. Grimes puts the most energy possible into her whisper-scream-pop, as she effectively does both with ease at the bat of an eye (or a swing of a ponytail, as I witnessed on that amazing night). Grimes has evolved her electronic music into a strange, unique brand of pop music, one that only she herself can command with such grace and attention. “Nightmusic” is the perfect blend of electronic music and spookiness.

Recommended if you like: Pumpkins screaming in the dead of night

3.) “Lose Your Soul” by Dead Man’s Bones

Ryan Gosling’s Arcade Fire-Funeral-era knock-off-with-a-weird-obsession-with-spooky-things-band does deliver the heebie-jeebies with their melodic, folk pop album. While I do not expect Gosling to ever really make music again, I always end up rediscovering this album around Halloween, probably because of the fitting skeleton-clad theme surrounding the band.

Recommended if you like: Riding with the moon in the dead of night

4.) “Shadowplay” by Joy Division

Joy Division are a legendary New Wave band and I highly urge anyone reading this column to watch Anton Corbijn’s brilliant biopic Control on lead singer Ian Curtis. But besides that, basically any Joy Division track will probably be a hit at a Halloween party, but “Shadowplay” has the word “shadow” in it, so it will probably go over the best.

Recommended if you like: The shadow of the moon at night

5.) “A Nightmare on My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

Will Smith is the best.

Recommended if you like: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the greatest sitcom of all-time.

 

Do you like to be scared?

A young adult hides under a blanket as she watches a horror video in the dark. (Janelle Moncada/ Xpress Magazine)

At this time of year, the level of fear among thrillseekers is heightened as horror movies and haunted houses begin to appear. As Halloween approaches, creatures of the supernatural – like ghosts and rotting zombies – become the fascination of people both young and old.

But why? Why do people find the feeling of being scared so appealing? If fear is a natural reflex to danger or a threat, why do individuals choose to seek out this this emotion?

Being scared is certainly not a new phenomenon – it has been around for centuries.

Aaron Kerner, a cinema professor at SF State, says that the “history of being allured to the horrific and the dreadful” is an approach to a degree of safety. This “safety net” that individuals have on a regular basis is finally let down once in that state of adrenaline, fear and stress.

Psychologically, there is a sort of allurement to experience dangerous activities or to venture out into the forbidden. For example, horror films give audiences a sense of fear through a screen. Instead of an individual experiencing terror, he or she knows that they are still in a safe environment.

“Horror films are important because they reflect American cultural values in a variety of ways,” said Adam Wadenius, film and media studies professor at Napa Valley Community College. “The Night of the Living Dead, for example, is not just a zombie movie; it reflects real fears about the civil rights movement, and the acceptance of otherness.”

Audiences allow themselves to identify with the enemy for they know no harm will come between them. This exposure of fear is as appealing as it is vastly different from their daily activities.

Surely, humans like being scared out of their wits by other sources. The thought of jumping off a cliff or storytelling also contributes to the desire of fear.

Ghost stories, in particular, have been told for years and years. For example, during the 18th century, Christian clergymen, known as the Graveyard Poets, wrote about spiders, bats, and other dark creatures. Their tales inspired gothic authors, such as Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelley, to create their popular stories that are read and beloved by many. These frightening works of fiction contribute to the excitement, interest, and thrill that some may seek in order to be completely terrified. 

The haunted attraction industry, which started in the nineteenth century, began as sideshows and museums filled with abnormal creatures that are not typically seen on a regular basis. These places would draw much attention from customers who were willing to test their resilience to see these frightening scenes.

Modern haunts of today follow in-suit, but instead take upon a more theatrical approach as Hollywood-quality sets and upgraded technology are incorporated. People dressed in gory zombie costumes to creatures that are so grotesque follow the brave souls that choose to enter these freak shows. These individuals are then given an adrenaline rush that leaves them startled, yet proud once they know that they survived the walk-through attraction. 

With Halloween right around the corner, these various fear-inducing fascinations produces emotional responses that work to build memories and relationships.

Have you ever wondered why people prefer to enter a haunted house in a large group rather than by themselves? In her article, Tend and Befriend: Biobehavioral Bases of Affiliation Under Stress, Shelley Taylor states that humans tend to affiliate a closer relationship with others when they are in an excited state. People need each other during times of stress.

In addition, people like the feeling of being scared as it can give them a self-esteem boost. The confidence that is felt is greatly appreciated as it can give them the idea of hopefully being able to survive a scary situation.

With Halloween creeping up, people across the globe choose to put themselves in a dangerous, fake world to experience the terror and despair that is not found in public areas. The personal pleasure of being scared can be seen as an enjoyable or even a traumatic adventure.

The final question is, are you up for the challenge?

Seven things to do for Halloween in the Bay Area

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Carved pumpkins featuring a sugar skull and Frozen’s Olaf. (Janelle Moncada/ Xpress Magazine)

 

’Tis the season for horror movies, costume parties, and pumpkin patches. With just four days until Halloween, here is a round up of the best events the Bay Area has to offer, from ghost tours through San Francisco’s City Hall to raves in Oakland’s Oracle Arena for Live 105’s Spookfest.

1. Ghost walks:  Learn all about city hall’s ghostly history and the cemetery buried under Civic Center through this free tour by San Francisco City Guides.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 29 at 6:30 p.m. WHERE: San Francisco City Hall.

 

2. Ghost Ship:  This massive costume party features live music from the Bay’s best DJ’s and huge EDC-like art installations from local arts. This year’s headliners include James Lavelle and Africa Bambaataa.

WHEN: Friday, October 31, 2014, 9pm to 4am WHERE: Pier 70, Building 12, San Francisco

 

3. Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch:  Visit San Francisco’s first pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins for carving or make your way through their elaborate corn maze.

WHEN: Oct. 27-31, 9am-10pm WHERE: 1620 7th Ave, San Francisco

 

4. Truck or Treat III: The SoMA StrEAT Food Park will host their third annual costume party. Dance the night away with live DJs, drink pumpkin spiced sangria, and eat Halloween-themed food from a variety of food trucks.

WHEN: Friday, October 31, 2014 at 7pm WHERE: SoMa StrEat Food Park, 428 11th Street, San Francisco

 

5. Winchester Mystery House:  Be daring and take a flashlight tour of the famous Winchester Mystery House. Make your way through the famous house full of elaborate mazes, stairways, and secret rooms.

WHEN:Oct 27 and 31, 6:30pm-midnight  WHERE: Winchester Mystery House, San Jose

 

6. Bad Dads:  The group art show will feature artwork inspired by Wes Anderson films. Attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Wes Anderson movie character.

WHEN: Friday, October 31, 6pm-10pm  WHERE: Spoke Art Gallery, 816 Sutter St, San Francisco

 

7. Spookfest:  Live 105’s electronic dance party returns this year at Oracle Arena. Musicians include  Alesso, Chromeo, St. John, Gareth Emery, Duke Dumont, and more.

 WHEN: Friday October 31, 5pm   WHERE: Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum WayOakland

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Costumes For a Broke College Student

Written by Macy Williams & Sarah Todd
Photos by John Ornelas

Had midterms last week? If so, we know for a fact that you haven’t even thought about a Halloween costume. The festivities are just a few days away, so we put together five budget-friendly costumes for fellow gators with a small amount of time and an even smaller amount of money.

  • Model: Celeste Feeling clever? Psychology majors will appreciate this costume. Throw on a silky slip and attach Freudian phrases to it. Look at you, getting all sassy and smart.
    Feeling clever? Psychology majors will appreciate this costume. Throw on a silky slip and attach Freudian phrases to it. Look at you, getting all sassy and smart.
  • Freudian Slip
    Model: Celeste
  • Everyone has an umbrella shoved in the back of their closet--it’s San Francisco, after all. Transform your old bumbershoot into everyone’s favorite sea creature with a little ribbon and a hot glue gun. Your friends will have no trouble finding you at the bar with this costume.
    Everyone has an umbrella shoved in the back of their closet--it’s San Francisco, after all. Transform your old bumbershoot into everyone’s favorite sea creature with a little ribbon and a hot glue gun. Your friends will have no trouble finding you at the bar with this costume.
  • jellyfish
    Model: Mike Hendrickson
  • Model: Sarah Got a sheet? Perfect, the classic sheet ghost costume is complete. But if you want to really turn heads this year, throw a bra on over that sheet and transform into a sexy sheet ghost. Laughs are guaranteed.
    Got a sheet? Perfect, the classic sheet ghost costume is complete. But if you want to really turn heads this year, throw a bra on over that sheet and transform into a sexy sheet ghost. Laughs are guaranteed.
  • sexy ghost
    Model: Sarah
  • Model: Sarah Todd The government shutdown has come and gone, but everyone is still talking about it. There’s nothing better than making fun of politics, so throw on some old pajama bottoms with a suit and tie and bam, you are a government official on holiday.
    The government shutdown has come and gone, but everyone is still talking about it. There’s nothing better than making fun of politics, so throw on some old pajama bottoms with a suit and tie and bam, you are a government official on holiday.
  • The Government Shutdown
    Model: Sarah Todd
  • Model: Virginia Tieman Remember those naked little troll dolls that sat and stared at you with beady little eyes? Let’s bring them to life! Use a nude colored tank top and glue a gem-like piece of paper to the  bellybutton area. Grab some spray hair dye and pull your hair into a point. Ladies will look adorable and guys will be downright creepy. It’s a win-win situation.
    Remember those naked little troll dolls that sat and stared at you with beady little eyes? Let’s bring them to life! Use a nude colored tank top and glue a gem-like piece of paper to the bellybutton area. Grab some spray hair dye and pull your hair into a point. Ladies will look adorable and guys will be downright creepy. It’s a win-win situation.
  • Troll Doll
    Model: Virginia Tieman

SFSU Humans vs. Zombies Celebrates its Season Three opening

Steven Benitez (right) carry a box to complete a mission during the Humans vs. Zombies season 3 opener, 'Return to Night,' Oct. 23, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
Steven Benitez (right) carry a box to complete a mission during the Humans vs. Zombies season 3 opener, ‘Return to Night,’ Oct. 23, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

Written by Justice Boles
Photos by Tony Santos

Zombies. Walking corpses that feed on the flesh of the living. These undead monsters have been used to symbolize basic primal fears like death and disease, as well as more modern-day anxieties like consumerism and loss of individuality.  Ever since George Romero released Night of the Living Dead in 1968, the zombie has become a pop culture juggernaut, appearing in forms of media ranging from books to comics to video to movies to television. Books about surviving the zombie apocalypse have become New York Times best sellers. Legion of the undead movies and video games rake in hundreds of millions of dollars. The Walking Dead, a television show based on a comic book about zombies is the most-watched drama series telecast in basic cable history. Whether it’s through admiration or just plain obsession, even college students in the United States have developed games of Humans vs. Zombies. Just Check the official website. Like the reanimated corpse itself, the concept has spread its way across campuses—including San Francisco State University—and has sunk its teeth into the hearts of students.

 

 

The basic premise of the game is to simulate a zombie apocalypse. Usually played over the span a week, students are assigned missions to accomplish, not knowing if their friends, classmates, or roommates could be a zombie in wait, ready to strike at anytime, anywhere, with the sole purpose of adding another monster to the undead army.

Inspired by games held at other colleges, San Francisco State University students Nathaniel Dizon and Ricki Herrera decided they were going to bring their own version of HvZ to SFSU.

In October 2011, the duo held their first game of HvZ. Since then, they’ve hosted more than a dozen games on the SFSU campus with scores of people attending each game, sometimes as many as 80 HvZ goers.

Played over the span of several hours on a weekend, their game is more reminiscent of a Civil War Reenactment than a game of tag.

Generally, there are two teams, the humans and the zombies. Humans are gifted with weaponry, usually in the form of Nerf guns that fire foam darts and similarly

An unnamed person who refused to speak at all walked through campus during the Humans vs. Zombies season 3 opener, Oct. 23, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
An unnamed person who refused to speak at all walked through campus during the Humans vs. Zombies season 3 opener, Oct. 23, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

foamed swords. These have proven so popular that Nerf has begun making a special Zombie Strike line of weapons. The zombies, on the other hand, benefit being virtually unkillable and constantly reanimate after being shot or struck with foam weaponry, as well as amassing a larger horde with every human killed.

However, more personally for the SFSU game, the moderators are in charge of building the world and the rules. With the expanding number of players, the number of moderators has expanded as well. Moderators Adam Benigno, Fernando Herrera, Jamison Chow and Lisa Olson have all brought new flavors and ideas to the game. These changes have come in the form of expanded human weaponry like Riot Shields and a Bazooka– colloquially called the BFG– as well as a plethora of new “special” zombies that keep the game dynamic and interesting.

Generally, the moderators try to design the missions around a larger narrative, like survivors trying to escape a zombie-infested city. This most recent game, affectionately titled “Return to Night,” involved a mad scientist and a chunk of plutonium woven into the story of humans fighting off the undead horde.

“There’s been a few missions we’ve designed, and just every human died in the first mission,” said Dizon. “I don’t think a lot of people realize how much fun it is being a zombie. I really like building missions the humans don’t really win. Let’s be honest, humans aren’t gonna survive the zombie apocalypse. I don’t think the humans are really designed to win this game.”

“Return to Night” began simple enough: A hand full of zombies facing down an army of Nerf-equipped humans. The game was divided into 5 rounds, each round having a few objectives for the humans to complete. The completion of the objective leads to human benefits, such as access to better weapons and longer zombie stun time. On the other hand, failure upgrade the zombie horde’s attributes, like stronger undead or a severe weakening of the Human fort and safe-zone.

The humans were successful in most of the rounds of “Return of the Night”, although there were many casualties that swelled the ranks of the undead. Round three saw the fall of the human base and the demoralization of the living, but they followed that up with a successful ending to round four. After that, the only way to win was to survive the increasingly difficult waves of zombies. After cutting and shooting their way through the first four waves, it looked like the six remaining humans might have some semblance of a chance, but they were low on ammo and hope. The final wave swooped in and overwhelmed the momentary survivors, ensuring another zombie win for the record books.

“It’s not that the humans can’t win. On a few occasions, the humans have managed to survive,” said Herrera, “but usually the zombies continue to chip away until humans are dead. We like to make every game different and unique.”

The sense of community the game has brought delights Dizon and Herrera. After every game, the moderators like to hold an open forum, engaging the players about what worked and what didn’t. “We try different missions and objectives, sometimes they’re good and we get some positive feedback, and sometimes they don’t work as well,” Herrera said. They’ve even set up a Facebook group for the games in which a lot of the players like to actively share zombie-related jokes and websites.

Dizon and Herrera are graduating soon and think it will be unlikely that they will continue to run the games after they leave college.

“We would just like to say that we’ve had a great time planning and playing these games and meeting so many cool people. We appreciate the support and enthusiasm everyone brings to the game. We would love it if anyone else wanted to take the reins and run their own version of HvZ.”