There’s a hot show in town called Blood Alley 3, presented by the extremely dedicated men and women who make up Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group in North Hollywood, California. You’ve heard of this team before via Theme Park Adventure; we love their Urban Death productions, as well as other spooky offerings they come up with throughout the year.
As you may have guessed, the “3” in the title indicates there have been previous Blood Alley productions at Zombie Joe’s, and you would be right. The sad fact is, we’d never experienced this particular show until just last week. A ticket and front row seat scratched that itch quickly – and as we arrived, I messaged one of the actors… “It’s our first time… be gentle!”
What came next was a rapid descent into avant-garde, extremely adult theater that blurred the lines of horror, erotica, and other genres that pretty much defy category. What is Blood Alley? If you have seen Zombie Joe’s Urban Death shows, you already know the gist of things – strange vignettes that depict all sorts of gross and frightening subjects, lasting only seconds for the most part before the lights go out and the next scene is readied. This repeats itself for about an hour. Blood Alley 3 is the same type of production – but much, much more intense in every aspect than Urban Death.
Blood Alley 3 features a live soundtrack – a gritty, effective performance by actor/musician Kevin Von Cott, who manages to play an electric guitar, along with drums and keyboard (yes, you read that correctly) in little-to-no light for the entirety of the production. I wanted to mention this, because anyone who plays or has played a musical instrument knows that’s a long time to perform without a break; kudos to Kevin!
This is a lo-fi production that quite literally, puts the audience right in the action. And I must reiterate – an adult audience; Blood Alley 3 is not family-friendly, so don’t even think about bringing a child. Where we were – in the “hot seats” – actors were frequently inches from us, which is cool, but also can be super awkward at times. I won’t give any spoilers in the way of specifics – but leave your genophobia at the door. If you’ve never seen people perform in the nude before, Zombie Joe and his Blood Alley 3 cast will take care of that really fast; before the show begins, even.
What is impressive about Blood Alley 3, is its unflinching array of horrific vignettes. Some of the scenes are downright spooky – the types of things Zombie Joe will be bringing to Midsummer Scream 2017 in a special Urban Death production for adult convention attendees. Other situations are extremely graphic and hard to watch. The show is generally fast-paced and elicits uncomfortable laughter, enthusiastic applause, audible gasps, and even cheering from each audience.
Reflecting on the experience, Blood Alley 3 isn’t just a roller coaster ride of nudity and acts of horror or violence; it’s a really deep look into human psyche – a staring into the abyss of madness that drives people to perform unspeakable acts. Taken at face value, Blood Alley 3’s scenes are uninhibited, crazy, and really mind-breaking. Dig below the surface, and you realize that many of them have deep meaning; a whole lot of something going on – social commentary, sexual empowerment, primal fear, and the embracing of everything that we pretend not to be when we look into the mirror.
Vague enough for you? That’s intentional. Part of the allure of any Zombie Joe production is the mystery – the “what the hell did I get myself into?” anxiety you feel as the house lights dim and the show begins. Most people go to see productions such as Blood Alley 3 to be shocked and awed. This group accomplishes that with great ease. What they also have accomplished with this show, is to create something brutal-yet-beautiful; something that everyone will view differently. In the end, there is nervous laughter and are a lot of wide-eyed, perplexed expressions around the audience. And then, the processing begins. We process, we replay what we’ve just witnessed in our minds, and we realize that there is nothing quite like this anywhere else. Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group is unique, and we’re indeed, very lucky to have these folks putting themselves out there physically and emotionally for us like they do – completely vulnerable, giving all they have in the name of art and theater.
Is this show for everyone? No. Not by a long shot. But those who do appreciate it and get into it – they let go completely, surrendering to the darkness as they are consumed willingly, drowning enthusiastically in all that is Blood Alley 3.
Blood Alley 3 is performed Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30pm through June 10, 2017. Tickets are now on sale, and we strongly recommend you purchase yours ahead of time online, and show up at least 30 minutes prior to showtime, as lines do form outside before doors open. Let them know you’re a TPA fan – and don’t forget to check them out Zombie Joe’s special Urban Death show this summer at Midsummer Scream in Long Beach July 29-30!
- Rick West