Spoilers Ahoy! (not really)
This makes for an unusual review, because it isn't of a theatre work. Except it is. Yet, it isn't. Kinda. Sorta.
Urban Death Tour of Terror is Zombie Joe's effort into running a Haunted House for the Halloween season. Honestly, I was a tad puzzled about what to expect, but looking forward to it! Scheduled myself for "opening night" but the second show. Initially just wanted to show up a tad later, but I got the added fun of seeing folks emerging from the first--looking thrillingly scared!
Now, really, giving away spoilers of a Haunted House would be just plain MEAN. So I'm not going to do that.
But--I will make some comments and give some advice. Seem fair?
First and foremost--the signs say this is not a show for children. Believe it! While some kids might have zero problem with the content, many parents would almost certainly not choose to expose children (i.e. those under 13 or so) to this material. Many would not want anyone in their mid-teens so exposed (although I don't think I'd be that squeamish, but...that is me). The folks at ZJU took the time to post such a warning. Pay attention!
Second, don't go alone. If you're the sort to scream and jump, you'll feel better with a companion. If, like myself, you aren't that type you'll enjoy it more with someone who is! Mind you, I think that counts as excellent advice for any haunted house!
Having said that, let me tell you this makes for a nice and creepy entertainment perfectly in line with the season and holiday! Frankly too many Haunted Houses (at least the one's I've been to) pretty much count on the audience/visitors knowing what will happen. More or less. They build on the anticipation of what everyone expects, then fulfills that expectation, hopefully with energy and a bit of style. Not this one! UBTOT in fact does the exact opposite! And kudos to them for that!
In essence what they've done is turn the lobby into a maze. Hardly a long one, but you make your way through images that genuinely disturb as well as frighten. Really feels like entering some Bad Place, like the Overlook Hotel at full throttle or some building in the town of Silent Hill. We end up in the main theatre, where the victims...er, patrons...gather until a show begins. Not a long show. But at times a very skin-crawling one. I'm not a person who revels in horror or terror. When entering events like this I usually slip into a "detached" mode. It allows me to enjoy without getting freaked out. But here there were moments when I could feel my blood pressure rise and my breath quicken, then stop for tense moments. Even now, my imagination wanders back to some of the images and events of that night--and I shudder. Just a little.
Then, we go back through the maze to exit--and the maze has changed! It now has somewhat different denizens and events we have not seen before! Again, no details. That would be wrong. But I certainly saw some people pretty much RUN out!
So this haunted house has my recommendation! Urban Death Tour of Terror runs Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30pm, 9:15pm, 10pm, 10:45pm and 11:30pm through Saturday November 2, 2013. You can see it yourself at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre at 4850 Lankershim, North Hollywood CA 91601. Just across the street from KFC and just south of the NoHo sign!