Horror Show

Zombies are attacking this city.

This has been a rough fall for the Mile High City. First, Denver got a nuclear smackdown in the pilot episode of Jericho -- taking a rather beautiful multi-megaton hit even before the first commercial break, seen only over the horizon from the fictional town of Jericho, Kansas, where the series is set. And though one early scene was set at a poorly faked Union Station, Denver now exists in that particular television universe only as a smoking crater.

Then the zombies attacked.

First they arrived in Dead Rising, the Xbox video game that designates the (again, fictional) town of Willamette, Colorado, as ground zero for an outbreak of inconvenient zombie-ism. Harsh. You know what we're thinking? We're thinking that those crazy kids from Calumet High ought to go in there and kick a little ass. Seriously -- they haven't had anything to do since the Russians invaded Colorado way back in 1984.

That's a Red Dawn joke, folks. Surely we're not the only ones who watch I Love the Eighties.

And just before Halloween, the 16th Street Mall was inundated by the living dead during the first annual Zombie Crawl, in which a hundred-odd zombies descended on the Cheesecake Factory. Video of the event -- which looks pretty cool -- is now showing at www.eyeheartbrains.com.

And now comes Max Brooks's new book, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, in which Denver's totally taken over by the zombies and must be sanitized before the reconstructed American army can begin its eastward push out of California, the last bastion of the non-zombified United States. Brooks structures his book as a series of interviews with survivors of the zombie war (he also gives interviews only in the persona he adopted for the book), recounting their experiences ten years after the fact. The good news? Denver was eventually cleared of brain-eaters, reclaimed and repopulated. The bad news? It's now moated and accessible only across drawbridges.

Give Brooks extra credit for his research. Not only does he manage to paint a believable (and at times, surprisingly moving) picture of the world in the grips of the zombie apocalypse -- bouncing around from mainland China to Iceland to Denver to London to Cuba with easy facility and working a story line of massive disaster that's heavily allegorical in this day and age -- but he also manages to get in a good dig about the Air Force Academy scandal. One of his characters is a female Air Force officer who crashed in zombie-infested territory.

"That never really bothered me, being alone in hostile territory," she says at one point in the story. "That was standard operating procedure for me."

"Always?" asks Brooks, acting as both narrator and interviewer.

"You wanna talk about being alone in a hostile environment, try my four years at Colorado Springs." Drink yup:The Real World: Miami's Dan Renzi recently snuck into town to give MTV fans a sneak peak at The Real World: Denver. And the spots -- now available on Comcast's MTV On Demand, in advance of the show's debut on November 22 -- make Denver look like Drunkville, USA, with stops at LoDo's Bar and Grill, the Tavern Downtown, Tryst Lounge, Jet Hotel and Rock Bottom Brewery.

Smiling servers at these watering holes discuss the town's abundance of alcohol -- and helpfully note that the altitude has the added benefit of getting people drunk faster. They also dish on the cast's sexual exploits in the girls' bathroom at LoDo's and the forbidden upper floors of Jet. But the best tidbit comes from a Tryst employee, who notes what a pleasure it was to serve the cast -- seeing as how they never tipped and tended to break, even throw, glassware.

Even before the Denver Election Commission debacle, we had evidence that zombies were taking over the town.

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