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Published October 04, 2013, 08:52 AM

Grand Forks hotel to be overrun by zombies Saturday

With a tattered black long-sleeve shirt, a bloody, white undershirt, disheveled hair and fake blood running down her face, Harley Melland, 22 of Aneta, N.D., let out a loud growl and got into character for Saturday’s zombie takeover.

By: Jasmine Maki, Grand Forks Herald

With a tattered black long-sleeve shirt, a bloody, white undershirt, disheveled hair and fake blood running down her face, Harley Melland, 22 of Aneta, N.D., let out a loud growl and got into character for Saturday’s zombie takeover.

The North Valley Arts Council will host the fourth annual Zombie Music Fest from 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday at the GuestHouse TownHouse Hotel in Grand Forks. About 1,000 blood-spattered zombies (and humans) are expected to fill the venue for an evening of thrilling fun. The event will include a dance-til-you-drop competition, costume contest and music by local punk rock bands: The Butcher, The Mecan’tiKs, The Alleles, Go Steve Jones and Shotgun Facelift.

NoVac is hoping the painted banners, trellises, corsages and an all-night dance will bring attendees back to the night of their senior prom, except this time, it’ll be zombified.

“If we do it right, it should look like a cheesy high school prom,” said Marie Strinden, executive director of NoVAC.

The Zombie Prom will be Harley’s first zombie-themed event, but she is no amateur when it comes to zombies. She said she grew up watching Michael Myers’ “Halloween.” Harley’s interest in horror films, specifically zombie films, has only increased with time. Her favorite movie is “World War Z,” and her favorite TV show, “The Walking Dead.”

“If she could jump into those movies, she would,” said Sherry Serr-Melland, Harley’s mother. “She’d be jumping and slashing.”

Harley has even read Max Brooks’ book “The Zombie Survival Guide,” a manual to fending off zombies.

“You never know when a zombie’s going to attack,” Harley said, with a laugh. “You can never be too safe.”

Harley said her friends and family think she’s crazy, but she doesn’t care. She has always wanted to attend zombie fest, but her work schedule has never allowed the time. This year, she said she’s going all out.

The art of zombie makeup

The art that goes into zombified makeup is what attracts Harley to zombie events and movies. She said she hopes to someday attend The Art Institute in Minneapolis for film production and special makeup effects.

Although she loves doing makeup for herself and her friends, she said this is the first time she has done any extravagant costume makeup. But, watching several zombie makeup tutorials on Youtube gave her the tips and inspiration she needed to create her own look.

Starting with concealer and eyelash glue, Harley created facial wounds. Then, she added black, blue and purple eye shadow around her eyes to create a dead-eye effect. Finally, she added fake blood — a mixture of red food coloring, water and corn starch.

She said blending is the key to making it look realistic.

“It’s (easier) to look like this than going to a party,” she said.

Her mom, Sherry, added, “It’s the only time when your makeup doesn’t have to be perfect.”

Harley teased her hair and used a lot of hair spray to make the messy, unkempt look. She also used a bit of baby powder to add a white, dusty look to her hair.

For the rest of her costume, she decided to go with a hunter zombie look, which she said is a bit cliche. She found old camouflage army pants and boots and, “worked really hard to get them dirty,” she said. She rubbed them in the dirt and smeared fake blood on the pant legs.

When Harley looked at her outfit and makeup in the mirror, she said she was shocked. “You feel pretty proud of yourself,” she said.

Harley, who plans to attend the Zombie Music Fest with her best friend, said she’s most excited about seeing everyone else’s costumes and getting new ideas for next year.

Strinden said, “It’s this whole other side to the art world. Everybody can connect to something.”

A costume contest with several rounds will be held throughout the night. The finalists will be brought on the stage at midnight and the winners will be crowned Zombie Prom King and Queen.

For those who aren’t skilled with a makeup brush, Strinden said there will be a zombie makeup and hair tent, where volunteers will zombify attendees. But, Zombie Prom-goers aren’t required to dress like zombies. Strinden said humans are welcome, too.

“It’s just a bunch of otherwise reputable people coming together and just acting super goofy and funny and really putting it all out there in a safe environment,” Strinden said.


Kids’ Zombie Fest

• Saturday at the GuestHouse TownHouse Hotel: The Kids’ Zombie Fest will take place at 1 p.m. with a free screening of the 2012 Tim Burton stop-motion animated comedy-horror film “Frankenweenie,” a general costume contest with prizes for all participants and zombie themed treats.

Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom

• Oct. 17-19, 24-26 at The Empire: The Empire presents “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom,” a play where teenagers’ video game addiction creates blurred lines between what’s virtual and what’s reality.

How-to survive a zombie apocalypse

Harley Melland, a self-proclaimed zombie expert, said you can never be too prepared for a zombie apocalypse. Harley has watched countless zombie films and feels she has a good grasp on what it takes to survive a zombie apocalypse. She said the major advantage zombies have over humans is that they don’t get tired. But, humans have a bigger advantage because they can actually think. Harley shares some of her tips for surviving a zombie attack:

• Tight clothes, short hair. Wearing tight clothes and having short hair will make it more difficult for the zombies to get a hold of you.

• No place is safe. Zombies can find you anywhere, so always be on the lookout.

• Keep moving and stay alert. The more you move, the better your chances are for surviving.

• Avoid popular hideouts. Rooftops, sporting good stores, grocery stores, hospitals and shopping malls are too obvious because of the available tools and food.

Zombie hair and makeup tips

• Tease hair. Create a disheveled look by teasing hair and using tons of hairspray to keep it in place.

• Use baby powder. Apply baby powder to hair to create a white, dusty look.

• Create bruises. Use dark blue, purple and green eye shadow to create bruises.

• Apply face powder. Use white face powder to create your dead zombie look.

• Add wrinkles. Use an eye liner pencil and small makeup brushes to create the illusion of wrinkles.

• Blending is key. Well-blended makeup helps create a more realistic effect.

• Imperfection is better. Don’t stress about the tiny details: Zombie makeup doesn’t need to be perfect.

If you go…

• What: The fourth annual Zombie Music Fest with a Dance-Til-You-Drop Competition, costume contest and music by local rock and punk rock bands.

• When: 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday.

• Where: The GuestHouse TownHouse Hotel, 710 First Avenue North, Grand Forks.

• Cost: $3 admission; free with Happy Harry’s Beer and Bacon Festival wristband or ticket stub.

Zombie Prom

Aneta, N.D., woman goes all out for Saturday’s event