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Published October 25 2012

Benshoof: Zombies – the life of a party, or a terrifying possibility?

FARGO – The Zombie Pub Crawl is long over, but thanks to pop culture like AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” zombies are always in season.

So, if you’re like the undecided voter this election season and still haven’t figured out your costume for this weekend’s Halloween parties, here’s my suggestion for an easy one: embrace your inner zombie and go as the undead.

But let me stop you before you just haphazardly throw on some fake blood over a white T-shirt. According to Matt Mogk, founder and head of the Zombie Research Society in Los Angeles, zombie costumes can be so much more than that.

Mogk has studied zombies with the research society for roughly five years. On Thursday, he gave a presentation on the zombies at Minnesota State University Moorhead, and encourages people to put some thought into their getup.

Specifically, he told me, aspiring zombies should think about how long they’ve been infected, or how they got infected in the first place, and be creative.

“The backstory is entirely told in the costume,” Mogk says. “You really want to think about that. To me, that would be a lot of fun – you come up with the whole story of your zombie, and that can inform your costume.”

While Mogk admits that dressing up as a zombie for a pub crawl or for Halloween can be a lot of fun, he and other members of the research society see zombies at the same time as a terrifying scenario, a “what-if?” that isn’t necessarily impossible.

There’s an element of realism to the undead, Mogk says, that makes them more frightening than things like vampires or werewolves.

“The modern zombie is unique to most other popular monsters in that it’s based in biology and science, rather than some ancient superstition or fable,” he says.

“People don’t try to scientifically explain how a vampire can turn into a bat, or how it can go to your high school and steal your girlfriend,” he adds, laughing.

So if a zombie apocalypse happens and the day comes when the zombies lumbering up and down Broadway aren’t college kids having some fun but the undead hungering for your flesh, Mogk says it’s important to be prepared. Chiefly, he says, have easy access to water and avoid other people – but that’s a column for another day.

But for now, whether or not the apocalypse could actually happen, it’s still very much relegated to popular culture.

So get out there this weekend and enjoy dressing as a zombie before a zombie is using you as dressing.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535