WHAT makes a convincing zombie? Is it the low blood-curdling moan or that hideous shambling gait?
Anyone who has ever been perplexed by that question need ponder no further, as a series of workshops designed to teach people how to convincingly amble like the undead are set to hit Edinburgh.
Led by self-styled zombie trainer Alex Noble, the workshops cash in on a vogue for all things shuffling and bitey. Programmes like The Walking Dead – starring British actor Andrew Lincoln – and books like World War Z are at the vanguard of this new wave of zombie interest.
Alex credits their popularity with sending people limping to his super realistic lessons.
He said: “The most important thing is the ability to stay in character. We don’t want people standing around on mobile phones grinning away happily.
“Maintaining the illusion is very important. The school is a tool kit. It gives them a couple of ideas for movements, some warm up and some vocals.”
Alex – who has been perfecting his zombie technique for five years – works for a realistic chase franchise called 2.8 Hours Later, of which the lessons are a spin off.
However, the Leeds based 26-year-old revealed that before people are allowed to learn the ropes, health and safety needs to be taken into consideration.
It certainly isn’t simply a case of lunging mindlessly at your intended victim or dragging a leg behind you.
Alex said: “Fitness is important but more so is the health and safety element.”
He said would be zombies have to be “especially aware” and not get carried away with the role.
In the past a number of people have become too rough when it comes to acting out “biting scenarios”.
“We have a marking system and it’s either a pass or a fail,” he explains bluntly.
One potential zombie failed to graduate because he did not pay sufficient attention to its stringent health and safety rules.
A rugby player, he took great pleasure in tackling people to the ground.
Alex gives his pupils general ideas about how zombies behave but they are free to improvise
What kind of zombie you become will depend on your fitness levels. The less agile student might prefer to assume the role of the slow-moving “classic” zombies encountered in films like Dawn of the Dead.
These George Romero-style creatures, referred to as “type ones”, tend to shuffle and are infamous for their stiff-legged staggers.
But the more athletic zombie fan may prefer the faster “type two” zombie.
Familiar to fans of the Danny Boyle film 28 Days Later, this variety is capable of pursuing his victims through the streets at breakneck speed.
There is also a third type of zombie who at first appears deceptively slow.
“People think they are slow but they are not,” said Alex, adding: “We are pretty unique in that we get people of all ages, shapes and sizes wanting to take part.
“It’s not just students.” He said women were more keen than men to be zombies.
Stevie Douglas, coordinator of Scare Scotland, a group of horror fans, applauded the lessons.
“Being a zombie is fun,” he said. “You get a chance to chase people around without getting arrested. It also brings people together, and creates long-lasting friendships. One couple who met as ‘zombies’ recently got engaged.”
The zombie workshops are set to take place at the Jack Kane Community Centre on May 10 and May 11.
Earlier this month, The Evening News revealed how 2.8 Hours Later will see the city’s streets taken over by a rampaging undead horde. Volunteers for the game, which takes place on May 23, 24, 30 and 31, are still required. See www.2.8hourslater.com/volunteering.
A guide to your very own night of the living dead
The zombie chase organisers have come up with some handy ideas for turning yourself into a member of the legion of the living dead. How about adopting one or more of these charming looks? 1: The half-eaten undead; 2: The ‘dislocated body’; 3: The screamer; 4: The hunchback; 5: The crawler; 6: The lumbering gait; 7: The dead-eyed stare. Whichever you go for, it’s guaranteed to be an absolute scream