“This is the greatest idea ever!” enthused the zombie girl to her zombie boyfriend as they entered the Coolidge Corner Theatre last Friday around midnight. It was “J Cannibal’s Feast of Flesh,” and all manner of zombies — on screen, on stage, in dance routines, in the audience — were in the house.
"FEAST OF FLESH": The poster
J Cannibal swore he wasn’t jumping the Halloween season by staging his multimedia extravaganza in September. See, he and his Black Ocean company did their first of these last January; the timing, then and now, just happened to be right for a zombie night, and can you ever go wrong with the undead?
“Zombie does huge here,” said Coolidge staff manager Jillian Maryonovich as a crowd of roughly 350 — a quarter in zombie attire — assembled. Once inside, they proved an enthusiastic (cheering virtually everything), polite, sober audience. “It’s a great crowd,” said Cannibal, who is also part of Black Cat Burlesque. “In Boston, apathy tends to be endemic, but we get a lively crowd.” In real-life an undertaker, Cannibal was a tall, benevolent host. He sported a swath of black make-up across his jaw and mouth and wore a modified biker’s jacket with “J CANNIBAL” emblazoned across the back. He introduced the funereal band Humanwine, who played as the audience filed in; he introduced James Royalty, sword swallower and human blockhead, and Royalty’s “zombie slave” Alexandria, who allowed her face to be pressed into crushed glass. He introduced Dottie Lux, a zombie-burlesque dancer from New York, who got down to pasties and panties to dance jerkily to “Dedicated to the One I Love.”
The entertainment just didn’t let up. There was more humor than horror, especially during the audience zombie contest, where 10 contestants competed and a dead Elvis won. The only person really hooted at was dressed as the late Steve Irwin and carrying a mini-crocodile. “Too soon!” someone yelled.
The Coolidge curtains parted and the screen dropped down for the John Landis version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” replete with Jackson-as-werewolf and, yes, more zombies. When the ghouls rose up from their graves in the video, the screen rose and Mary Widow of Black Cat Burlesque led six other dancers through a zombie dance routine as the funky music played. Then the screen lowered, “Thriller” finished, and after a screening of the 1977 cult zombie film Shock Waves our zombies marched peacefully home.