Dead Beginnings Part 2 – An Extra’s Perspective

I was in The Walking Dead. I worked on season 1. I was a walker. It was a pretty good gig. I dressed up like a zombie, spent usually 8 to 12 hours in make up, ate lots of spaghetti and nodded off in extra holding taking naps. The Walking Dead – best job I ever had, chasing people and acting like a slavering undead lunatic in downtown Atlanta – I didn’t have any idea how big the show was going to be. Everyone was into it on set, to say the least. You can see me for perhaps a second in a couple of scenes. That was weeks of shooting, forming a blob of snarling pixels in the amorphous background, and returning to the world, the mundane day job, the same worries, the same family, the same stratus of rock where, in a million years someone will pick through my petrified teeth and talk about the traces of spaghetti I ate. “This one ate a LOT of spaghetti.” And that’s okay. 

Prequel: I was a dead guy in Andersonville, a movie about a disgusting civil war movie where disease, famine and chaos brought thousands into the arms of death. Scores died, nearly 13,000 of the 45,000 held there. More spaghetti.

Uberprequel: I turned weird thanks to The Weekly Reader. I was obsessed with books in elementary school, and as my family moved about due to a divorce and being stalked subsequently by my mom’s new boyfriend who turned into an ex boyfriend as it became suddenly, frighteningly apparent, that he was very dangerous. So, I grew up knowing someone was out to maim or kill me and my family. I didn’t talk to strangers, and trusted no one. The world was a creepy place, and I crawled into the Weekly Reader.

   I lived in books. At my day care, I read all of them. because I refused to talk to or socialize with anyone in school, I was placed in behavioral disorder support classes. These were places where they just stuck oddballs. Violence, mayhem, confusion, all delivered by teachers and students in equal measure. Further into the books. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was reading  best-sellers off the rack at the grocery store. I read at an adult level. i was obsessed with horror stories.

What did it was an encyclopedia of horror films I found in my elementary school library in 3rd grade – I’d just transferred into that school, took placement tests that confirmed I was no longer maladjusted, was in fact quite bright despite missing half of kindergarten and first grade on the lam from the crazy man – we was finally caught one night trying to scale into my mom’s apartment with a makeshift ropeladder slung over the iron railing of her apartment. He was armed, but my mom heard him right away. She was able to meet him on the balcony to ask what he was doing as the cops stormed in. With his warrants outstanding, this fresh transgression would land him in prison. My boogeyman put to bed, I felt like dealing with people. There was justice.

There were haunted houses. I read about them. I had dozens of thin paperbacks from the Weekly Reader splashed with lurid covers depicting all manner of supernatural miscreants in moonlit or blood soaked backdrops of gore and screaming victims and silhouettes of haunted houses. So, when my dad became involved with a local fundraiser running a haunted house, I couldn’t have been more excited. They just didn’t scare me. Psycho killers coming to kill  me and my family scared me. You never knew when they’d show, or where they lived. The idea that you drove to a place to get frightened of people dressed up and waving their arms around and growling seemed stupid. But people got scared, sad. So, I worked the maze. that’s where, just having been chased by a goblin throwing fake guts from a disemboweled woman’s abdomen in strobe light, you were urged to escape through. “This way, can’t be much farther”…was far. we weren’t in a house, per se, we were in a huge warehouse. The maze was framed with 1 x 8s and found wood at the abandoned structure that we’d cleaned for a week before building the haunted house. The maze had holes in the wall where you could reach through and grab people, or stick mannequin heads through, and some holes were big enough for a small boy to leap through. It was nearly pitch black, the crowds were moving quickly in the narrow twisting halls, hitting the dead ends, yelling at each other, and then a couple of other kids and myself would go berserk on them, try to get someone to piss themselves. One kid had an air horn. An air horn! At the end of the night we’d get cokes and hot dogs and laugh like crazy at the stories we’d swap about scaring people. It stuck with me, I guess. I can walk up on people silently People are afraid of me. I’m eerie, and by degrees I seem to just be getting weirder. I’m hoping one day to be able to get back into movies shooting around Pittsburgh and play more dead people. I still love horror stories. I am into ancient occult material, in the purist sense. I’m not into devils or any specific monster. I’m not on some religious kick. If something is truly occult, it’s unknown in origin. If one cannot accurately fit an idea or experience or description into any known category, it just may be occult. i love tin foil alerts, and I’m always looking for a chance that there might be something scarier than people. And the idea of zombies having mass appeal is, well, best served by the medium of television. All those deep blue rooms late at night, eyes staring wide, jaws chewing slowly mouthfuls of industrial junk food, pure poison and rot. Weird. If I can be your monster, you can be mine.

Anyways, that’s where I guess it started for me. That’s the prequel. 

 

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