Arts & Culture Features

The rapping dead

When I was asked to cover the filming of a new Buck 65 music video, I was stoked. When I was asked to dress up as a zombie for it, I was not.

When I was asked to cover the filming of a new Buck 65 music video, I was stoked.
When I was asked to dress up as a zombie for it, I was not.
After a terrifying Halloween incident involving zombies left me scarred at a young age, I’ve never quite made my peace with the living dead. I prayed for an excuse that would keep me from having to face my fear. Lo and behold, come the big day, a snowstorm hit Halifax. I took it as a sign from above that these zombies and I were just not meant to be thrown in the same room together.
Apparently I was wrong.
In anticipation of the release of his new album, 20 Odd Years, due out in February, Buck 65 (also known as Richard Terfry) chose to film his new music video not only in his hometown of Halifax, but using Haligonians as well. “Do-it-yourself zombies” came from across Nova Scotia for a chance to feature in “Zombie Delight”, and those devoted enough to make it through the storm did not disappoint.
It was a strange scene at the Halifax Bloomfield Centre: a man with a pole through his stomach lined up at the buffet, a little girl with blood dripping from her eyes doing cartwheels, a gentleman who looked like he could be Willie Nelson’s stunt double patiently sitting in a corner.

But for devotees Michelle, 37, and Chris, 38, this was perfectly normal. They’ve even developed their own rules: “You gotta do a different zombie every time though, you can’t ever do the same zombie twice,” Chris explained.
By day, they work in fraud prevention and customer service, but in their free time, the Halifax pair participates in zombie walks. Michelle has even organized one herself. “We’re kind of old-hat with the make-up now,” she says.
In a sea of zombies, it was Jason LaVangie, unmarked by blood or guts, who stuck out. He’s the video’s director, and he’s produced work for some of Halifax’s top names: Ghettosocks, Classified, Joel Plaskett.
“The song lends a lot to the visuals,” LaVangie explains from behind thick-rimmed glasses. “The song is very much about zombies and sort of touching on many of the archetypal elements of zombie storytelling. So I just drew on that and put my own personal spin on and extrapolated from Rich’s poetry.”
After two days of shooting, LaVangie is looking forward to finishing up. And after more than two hours of waiting, so are the zombies. Some wearing nothing more than ripped t-shirts, the 20 or so undead make their way outside through a foot of snow to find Buck himself, complete with sideburns and a trucker hat, along with the rest of the crew in high spirits despite freezing temperatures.
“This is the exciting last 30 per cent, and it’s the icing on the cake,” said LaVangie. “All these enthusiastic people have come in and we very much appreciate it.”
Between takes, interviews, and snowball fight interludes, Buck appears to be enjoying himself throughout the whole process, as do the zombies.
Though I chose to keep as safe a distance as possible from the attack, I think that the experience on a whole has set me on the road to recovery. I wouldn’t say that four hours spent with the walking dead have desensitized me to the idea of zombies, but so long as the real zombies don’t show, maybe someday I’ll be able to kick my irrational fear.
Regardless, don’t expect me to jump at the next opportunity to interview a zombie. Really, I’m just glad to have made it out of there alive.

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