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The Undead Rise for Zombie Bikini Contest in Downtown Mesa

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There was a surprise turnout for this past Friday night's Zombie Bikini Contest at Evermore Nevermore -- not because zombies aren't popular, but because a day prior to the event only a couple of brave girls were signed up to compete. 

According to owners Bob and Debbie Leeper, the phone at Evermore Nevermore started ringing off the hook Friday morning, and by the time the swimsuit contest rolled around at 9 p.m. about a dozen undead girls and a huge elbow-to-elbow crowd shambled onto the sidewalks in front of the store.

The contestants ranged from a moaning, growling, bald zombie straight out of Will Smith's I Am Legend to a punk zombie with a large green-tinted mohawk and a more refined undead babe with a hat and cane who likely prefers being called an "undead creature of the night" because the term "zombie" is just so prosaic.

Host Russ Kazmierczak Jr. of the Amazing Arizona Comics franchise announced the bathing beauties, with prizes awarded by a panel of local judges for meanest, scariest, sexiest, best makeup, and best overall. Pageant queen Karis, decked in a teensy black bikini and a red flower hair clip, scored a tiara and a ton of swag including gift certificates and custom Zombie Bikini Contest artwork.

Though she was glad to win, Karis confessed that she would've loved to have seen a guy enter the contest in a two-piece. "He totally would've won," she quipped. "If a dude showed up in a bikini, it would've been game over."  

Sure, most of the zombie chicks who showed up just get a kick out of dolling up in grotesque makeup, putting on some sexy, ripped attire and scaring the crap out of passersby. But a few contestants, such as "scariest" category winner Logan Salmons, are in it for a higher purpose. The 22-year-old Salmons is pursuing makeup and theatrical training at a college in Pennsylvania starting next year, with a specific eye towards working with the types of scary movies she was introduced to as a child.

Salmons appreciates fangs and fur, but her affinity for the undead runs the deepest. "I love all horror movie characters. It's what I grew up with," she says. "But I love zombies the most because of the metaphor behind it. They are us. It's just an analogy for society."

Clearly, some of the zombie girls on display at Friday's contest had some serious brains -- and not just the ones they were eating.

Check out a slideshow of the bikini-clad zombies right here ... 

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