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The Scarlet & Black

Zombie House: zombie-aware, haunted and ready to host

A severed arm hung morbidly from the blue Volkswagen Passat parked in the driveway of 1021 High Street. Our knocks went unanswered, so we opened the door and went into the house. We were received by nothing but a low trembling bass from the radio. There was another arm sitting atop the television set.

The residents of ZOmbie Hou-BBBBBBRRRAAAAIIINNSSSS. Photograph by Tessa Cheek.

While transfixed, three of Zombie House’s tenants materialized, as if from nowhere; Paul Dampier ’12, Harrison Fertig ’12 and Erik Jarvis ’12 (Brad Gordon ’12, Copy Editor for the S&B, is the fourth resident of Zombie House). Though self-characterized as gratuitously violent zombies, the trio offered us tea and invited us to sit in their “living” room.

“Do you mind if I put on some Tom Waits?” Dampier asked.

Jarvis and Dampier have lived together since their first year at Grinnell. They knew Fertig because he lived on their floor, but Gordon was the one who got the house.
The group decided to call their house Zombie House because they are all fascinated by zombie movies and all things horror. Inside of the house, bloodied plastic limbs and skulls are dispersed amongst Star Wars, On the Road and Rocky Horror posters.
Overall, though, the house is tastefully decorated, and the ambiance created by dark wood accents and warm furniture is reminiscent of 20th century Tuscan design. This covers up the house’s own eerie history.

“Our landlord told us not to go down to the basement,” Fertig said. “He told us things die down there.”

Perhaps these spirits have returned to haunt the house. One night early in the semester, the Zombie House residents were especially frightened by an ominous dangling light bulb shining from the basement.

“We had no idea who turned it on.” Jarvis said.

As we visited, the house was undergoing a transformation. Black garbage bags stretched across several doorways and Halloween props sat menacingly in the corners. Come Saturday, the Zombie House will be a Haunted Zombie House, and all Grinnellians are invited to come have a scare.

“I’ve always wanted to do an indoor haunted house,” Dampier said. “I used to do smaller things in my front yard, but this will big.”

The party will convene at Zombie House following Halloween Harris. Come in costume, and come ready for anything.

“Different rooms are going to have different themes. It’s going to be theatrical,” Jarvis said. “I’m dressing up as a zombie Davie Crocket … It’s going to be the dead man’s party.”

Besides sharing a love of horror, the group also enjoys similar culinary delights.
“We all love bean burritos,” Dampier said.

Despite their residence being named after a disgustingly cannibalistic undead creature, the group is mostly vegetarian.

“I mean, if we’re not going to eat brains, we’re not going to eat meat at all,” Fertig said.

When asked about other bonding activities besides eating, watching movies, and attempting to inspire fear in the souls of their fellow students, the group’s response was vague. Jarvis mentioned “male-bonding.”

“Such as Mary B. James,” Dampier explained. “ [Gordon] is the most attractive woman I have ever seen.”

There are advantages to living with zombie-aware people. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, the Zombie House would likely become a last safe house of the living.

“I used to play a game when I was younger where I would think of what weapon I would use in the room should zombies come,” Dampier said.

“I like the idea of using a corkscrew,” Jarvis added.

“There is something to grab in every room in the house,” Dampier said, looking around the living room. “Except this one.”

“Yeah, if they [the zombies] come we’ll be eating our words,” Jarvis said. “Or our brains.”

As we left Zombie House, we passed by another disembodied body part—this time a severed head sitting on a windowsill—and were ushered out by a chorus of cheerful goodbyes.

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