Haunt Review: Zombie Joe’s Underground Urban Death Tour of Terror
Part maze, part theatre, and all terrifying, Zombie Joe’s Underground delivers for this October season the “Urban Death Tour of Terror,” and for those haunt fans who’ve opined, “Nothing seems to scare me anymore,” well, this will more than likely quiet your complaints, and then some.
Held in North Hollywood, CA in a nondescript building on Lankershim Boulevard (which possesses signage above the entrance which reads simply “Z.J.U.”), Zombie Joe’s Underground eschews any superficial pageantry from the very start, and in doing so immediately puts its patrons at unease. Gathered in line, whispers of, “What’s inside? What am I doing to see? What have I gotten myself into?” could be heard from the fifty or so ticket holders gathered with us.
Upon entrance and with tension mounting, we found ourselves broken into small groups, and handed dim flashlights, we navigated the inky darkness within, feeling our way in trepidation through a maze realized via hanging black plastic. As it cut back on itself again and again, disorientation set in, itself heightened by several shocking, horrific displays, perpetrated by the scare actors which populated it. From infanticide to homicide and to the truly bizarre, we were met with brief visual flashes as we traversed the walkthrough, which eventually spilled out into a large, black room.
Within, a lone actor stood leering, cackling and spasming on what would serve as a small stage, and with the full group then gathered, we were asked to sit. What followed for the next thirty or so minutes was a series of sometimes morbid, sometimes comical and sometimes thoughtful musings on the very nature of our shared existence, as a cadre of actors took the stage between utter blackouts.
The beauty of such a format – vignettes separated by plunging the audience into complete darkness – was the sense of foreboding which it elicited. What will come next? What terrors will await? And while theatergoers need not be concerned with physical contact with the performers (there is none), the Urban Death Tour of Terror will more than likely raise the hair on the back of one’s neck. That, and it’s absolutely not for kids, as morbid scenes of body horror, blood and nudity abound, all delivered by an absolutely terrific and committed cast.
Following the show, we navigated once again the inky maze on our way to the building’s exit, which had been entirely reset during our absence, and which offered up an entirely new series of ghastly and startling tableaus. Simply wonderful.
Directed by Zombie Joe and Jana Wimer, Zombie Joe’s Underground Urban Death Tour of Terror offers up a 45 minute experience that is at once both uniquely personal and one enjoyed by an audience (the collective gasps and laughter, both nervous and otherwise, during the performance were contagious), and with tickets priced at an incredibly low $16.00, it’s an absolute must-visit for fans of haunted attractions and macabre theatre alike. Oh, and for the little ones, Zombie Joe’s Underground also offers up a child-friendly version (ages 8+) of the Urban Death Tour of Terror, which we found equally as enjoyable while being suitable for the whole family.
Don’t miss it!