Saturday, October 11, 2014

Urban Death Tour of Terror 2014 (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Not really. I'm not going to spoil anything because that would decrease the fun of anyone deciding to attend. Well, maybe a couple of details.

For years Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group offered thrills and chills and more than a few visceral reactions via their signature piece Urban Death. Last  year they tried turning it into a Haunted House for the Halloween season--to great success! This year they're at it again!

Once again, they've created an experience utterly unlike the tame semi-roller coasters that revisit horror movie tropes so common in this kind of event. I can firmly say we don't see anyone remotely resembling Count Dracula or the Wolf Man or Freddy Kreuger, much less Jason or Frankenstein's monster. No lab equipment with colored water and dry ice. Not even a faux chainsaw.

What do we get instead? Stillness, for one thing. Stillness that begins to erode at one's peace of mind, not least because we sense it remains only a pause. Darkness for another, one we know down to our souls cannot possibly be empty. Humor, of some very dark and perverse shapes (honestly, I get into a zone for things like this to avoid too strong a reaction--and I could not control myself now and then. Really.) Blood. Death. Cannibalism. Full frontal nudity. Some things not really human at all. Voices that scrape against the spine and groans that hint at atrocity. Gasps of pleasure and pain. What could have been insanity or perhaps just demonic possession. Or both, to be fair (honestly, if you were possessed by a demon might not you suffer some mental problems?).

Apart from the content, which I understand is something of a collaborative effort, much credit should go to the cast for what certainly seems a grueling performance piece given to us with no holds barred, nothing held back.I recognized several performers from other shows, but others remain anonymous. Some because of masks. Or their equivalent.

Bottom line--if you want genuine creepiness, real scares, your nerves on edge was well as some pitch-black (as opposed to merely 'dark') humor, this is the Haunted House for you this Halloween. Adults only, though. Really. I mean it.

Urban Death Tour of Terror runs October 10 thru November 1, 2014. Showtimes are Friday and Saturdays at 8:30pm, 9:15pm, 10pm, 10:45pm and 11:30pm. ZJU is at 4850 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood (just across the street from KFC, just south of the NoHo Sign). Tickets are $12, and reservations can be made by calling 818.202.4120 or checking out

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