MOUNT ZION – Christian Hill was drawing attention Saturday as the look of his face took a scary yet awe-inspiring turn.
Hill, a sophomore at Mount Zion High School, was transformed into a zombie with the help of Anthony Kosar from the television show 'Face Off.” Hill wasn't sure how long he could keep the look or if he could quite repeat it as well in a few weeks for Halloween.
“It feels numb,” he said. “I can't quite feel my face.”
Hill and his family have been watching the show since its first season, so it was a thrill for him to feel what it's like for the stars of the program. “Face Off,” which is now on its ninth season, airs on the Syfy Channel showing the work of special effects makeup artists.
Kosar's appearance was part of the Art of Fear event at the Heroic Age Art Center in Mount Zion.
“The good thing about being a zombie is it's like a day at the spa, getting pampered,” said Kosar, who runs an entertainment arts school in the Chicago area. “Who doesn't love Halloween?”
The event was held at Mount Zion's old grade school, 135 N. Henderson St., which has been turned into studio space for various artists, including filmmaker Heroic Age Studios.
Heroic Age creative director Eric Hector said the event is part of an outreach effort to invite community members to see what is happening in the building.
“We want to get them excited about what we're doing,” Hector said. “The community has really embraced us.”
The event featured a frightful-themed gallery show, art activities, vendors, face painting, trick or treating, a live “Horror Fix” radio broadcast and pre-screening of the indie horror film “Volumes of Blood.”
Heroic Age currently is trying to generate support for its Frightful 5000 Films project, Hector said. It is inviting 5,000 participants to pay $60 each to be a part of the filmmaking process as a horror movie is created.
Filming won't start until the goal is met, Hector said.
As interest in the project is generated, other parts of the horror film industry were featured during the event. Michael Koske, a hero-walker in the AMC show “The Walking Dead,” has found his niche in being transformed into zombie characters.
Koske has lost count as to how many times he has been killed, shot, stabbed, run over and set on fire. He is regularly transformed into character like Hill was for the first time.
Koske has been in “Goosebumps” and “Sleepy Hollow,” as well as on “The Walking Dead.”
“You get used to it after a while,” Koske said. “At first, it feels weird. You can't scratch, so a lot of us are there rubbing our faces.”
Artists who regularly use the building for studio space were getting in on the spirit of the event.
Laura Webb, who has a photography studio, had a zombie backdrop to take visitors' pictures in front of.
Webb said the building has become an enjoyable place to work, but haunted houses used to be held there, for good reason.
“It was terrifying to set foot in,” Webb said. “It was not the best place. It has come a long way. It's awesome to see how it's turned out.”