Zombies in Boulder



Oct. 29, Boulder Theater, doors at 8 p.m. $42

The gypsy-punk-folk-orchestral group returns to Boulder for its annual Halloween show Oct. 29 at the Boulder Theater. This year’s theme, made public beforehand for the first time, is zombies vs. vampires.

“I think people will get pretty excited about those two themes,” says Boulder Theater talent buyer Kirk Peterson. “The band’s music is very cinematic and goes really well with it.

“Some of the themes they’ve done in the past, they just totally go for it on the costumes,” he says. “They did a Japanese kabuki theme and got the costumes from Japan. They did a matador theme and got suits from Spain, they did a Day of the Dead Mexican theme including face paint. They always take the costumes to the nth degree.”

The band toured earlier this year in support of its latest album, 100 Lovers, which continues DeVotchKa’s globally influenced folk-punk, drawing on influences from around the world like Eastern European gypsy tunes, mariachi horns, American pop and Indian strings.

Widow’s Bane

Oct. 29, Shug’s Low Country Cuisine, doors at 9 p.m. $5 If mixing with vampires doesn’t appeal to your purist taste, you’re probably looking for The Widow’s Bane.

Zombie-ism is a full-time gig for the Boulder band, whose creeping sound — they call it zombie pirate polka — features shifting tempos, Baroque gypsy-folk leanings, and a slew of story-style lyrics about stranded, love-lorn sailors at the bottom of the sea. Widow’s Bane, playing Shug’s Oct. 29, feels like it’s been pulled straight from a Tim Burton musical, but with a better backstory.

“All those other zombies are bullshit,” says singer Gov. Mortimer Leech. “Real zombies like us, we’re brought back to life by Lucifer.”

Despite this background, the group’s lyrics aren’t exactly Satanic. They spend a lot more time bemoaning love gone wrong.

“These particular zombies,” Leech says, indicating the band, “were created when their beloved killed them. The rage and lust for revenge brings the heart back. We didn’t quite die, and we came back to haunt them. They say it’s a virus, but that’s metaphorical.”

Night of the Living Dead

Oct. 29, Muenzinger Auditorium, CU campus, 7 p.m. $7

The seminal 1968 zombie film horrified audiences in its graphic, groundbreaking depiction of the shambling creatures. In a farmhouse near Pittsburgh, a small group fights to defend itself from a creeping horde that kills and eats the living.

By today’s standards, it’s not much of a horde.

The most zombies we see onscreen is 12, maybe 15.

But co-writer and director George Romero didn’t just set the standard for how zombies act. He also established the true conflict at the heart of most undead narratives: the survivors’ fights with each other. Conflicts between farmhouse occupants prove just as dangerous as the undead.

The story may be basic, and the zombies are positively glacial, but the enduring power of the film is its message. Its meaning has been read in terms of race, gender and the middle class of the 1960s.

Zombie expert Peter Dendle calls the film “a chilling parable of society in civil collapse” in his essay “The Zombie as Barometer of Cultural Anxiety.”

Indeed, if the action’s outdated, the cultural messages are not.

“Romero is philosophical and political,” says Winona State Assistant Professor of media studies Andrea Wood. “He’s about allegory and metaphor.”

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