As I neared the Zombie Pub Crawl last Saturday, I was greeted by a chanting, bloodthirsty mob. "We want brains, we want brains," they sang.

Of course, they'd been instructed to say "brains" in order to get in on the event's drink specials. Many of the zombies lurching through Sergeant Preston's bar were lugging fishbowls full of Long Island Iced Teas.

Eyeballs hung from sockets. Blood spilled forth from mouths. The undead-for-a-night took inspiration from a variety of notables -- a zombie Marilyn Monroe here, a Kurt Vonnegut there. Troy Otto, a lapsed Catholic from northeast Minneapolis, was the Zombie Pope.

Some partyers proved that even zombies can be practical, wearing flannels under their blood-splattered T-shirts on this crisp autumn eve.

In a space filled with 2,000 zombies, it's tricky to navigate unscathed. Many were drunk, wobbling and tripping as they practiced the zombie strut, a lumbered limp involving stiff arms and one deadened leg dragging behind. All that fake blood, makeup and latex paint brushing past made it impossible for outsiders to avoid catching the rotting revelers' flesh-eating disease. I bobbed and weaved, but splat! My shoe landed in a puddle of blood.

A few nonconformists stuck out in the crowd, including a pair of Ghost Busters. Joshua Berg, Ryan Waldoch and Theresa and Sam Hirte-Runtsch came as zombie hunters, all business in polished suits with toy guns and ID badges, like the characters from their favorite video game, "Resident Evil."

Why the twist on a theme? For a guy surrounded by gore and guts, Berg's answer was perplexing: "I hate zombies, so I wasn't going to dress like one," he said. "Seriously -- they just freak me out."

Christy DeSmith is a Minneapolis writer.