Undying devotion

    “I woke up in the hospital, that’s all I know.”

    That is how Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln) begins a new phase of his life with a world overrun by zombies in the AMC series “Walking Dead.”

    Indeed, our world is similarly overrun. A recent book called “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” has become a publishing phenomenon. Then there are the 4,000 zombies who set a Guinness World Record in Asbury Park, N.J., for the largest gathering of the undead. Unheard of 10 years ago, there are now zombie bar crawls–wherein patrons made up to appear dead go out drinking–in almost every major city, including Moscow and Tel Aviv.

    This Sunday (Easter Sunday–that’s not a coincidence), the sixth Philadelphia Zombie Crawl will creep its way around South Street.

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    Zombies, it seems, are having their moment.

    But in the greater pantheon of our cultural monsters, zombies don’t rate very high. Their chief characteristics are traveling in hordes and being incredibly stupid. In the New York Times, essayist Chuck Klosterman wrote that the abundance and stupidity of zombies mimic the relentless avalanche of e-mails, spam, and texts the modern American faces on a daily basis.

    “Continue the termination,” Klosterman writes. “Don’t stop deleting.”

    Drop-dead gorgeous

    But zombies are changing for the 21st century. They still want to eat your brains, but now they want to do it with cute hair.

    “There are many zombies who will show up on Easter who are dressed in Easter finery,” said Robert Drake, an organizer of the Philadelphia Zombie Crawl. “They are dressed in tuxedos and gowns, with the exception that they are not alive. It’s not about the old-fashioned, 1969, “Night of the Living Dead” zombies where they have ragged clothes, digging themselves out. People take it to the next level.”

    This summer, the New York, Philadelphia and now award-winning Asbury Park zombies will congregate for the first time in Dorney Park. More than 4,000 are expected.

    Because you’re never too dead to enjoy a water slide.

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