For the past couple of years now, one of the most edgy, shocking haunted attractions in Southern California has been Zombie Joe’s Urban Death: Tour of Terror, in North Hollywood. A cross between a maze and theatrical production, Tour of Terror is unabashedly twisted adult in nature, and is at times too much for some folks to wrap their heads around.
Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group is a really fun, low-fi production company that puts on multiple shows year-round here in Los Angeles that are all fairly adult in nature. The troupe at Zombie Joe’s consists of men and women of all ages – each of them obviously loving what they do as they constantly push the envelope with avant-garde performances in the small North Hollywood space not far from Hollywood, Burbank and the surrounding communities. Despite their small, bare-bones space and productions, every night is a who’s who when it comes to fans of Zombie Joe’s. Drawing from the entertainment industry, it’s not uncommon to see players in the film and television business, as well as themed entertainment groups in the audience, or socializing on the sidewalk along Lankershim Boulevard at midnight.
During the Halloween season, Zombie Joe’s turns its attention to the morbid and terrifying, creating the outrageously haunting Urban Death: Tour of Terror attraction. As I said at the beginning of this piece, Tour of Terror is a mix between maze and show; it’s definitely not for kids, so leave the little ones (and teens) at home. Guests are sent into a nearly pitch-black maze in pairs, with only a very dim little flashlight to help them find their way. Each twist and turn reveals a disturbing vignette – an obese person’s ass crack just inches from your face as it sits on a bucket streaked with feces; monsters lurking and looming overhead; or perhaps naked individuals doing naked individual type of things as they snarl and growl as you hurry past them. It’s hard to see exactly what you’re looking at in the maze portion of Tour of Terror; what you can’t see or hear, your imagination fills in – and some of that stuff can never been erased from your mind’s eye, I assure you!
Once guests find their way through the maze, they assemble on the floor around the stage. What unfolds over the next 15 minutes or so, is a truncated version of their standard Urban Death show, which typically runs closer to an hour in length. Urban Death is a series of morbid, humorous, and shocking little snippets of terror that play out just inches from the audience. There is no linear story line, so each 30 to 60-second scene can plug-and-play depending on cast members, or to simply mix things up from night to night. One thing that is just about a sure bet when witnessing Tour of Terror is graphic nudity; often sexual in nature – but never sensual (unless you’re really twisted). As soon as the show portion of the attraction has concluded, guests are given flashlights once again and they must go back through the very dark maze – which, during the course of the live performance, has shifted and changed, creating a whole new experience for you to find your way out of; we love that aspect of this haunt – it’s a very cool, creative and clever use of space!
Fair warning – if body parts freak you out, or grotesque horror churns your stomach, you probably want to simply tell your friends about Urban Death: Tour of Terror. However, if you’re seeking one of the Southland’s most outrageous, strange and shocking haunted attractions this Halloween season, there is still time to get out to North Hollywood and check out Zombie Joe’s Urban Death: Tour of Terror! Be sure to check out the official Zombie Joe’s website for dates and times! Once there, be sure to tell ’em you’re a TPAer – they’re great friends of ours, and have been active participants as well in ScareLA for the past 2 years! This is definitely one of the darkest productions you’ll see all season, and we highly recommend it!
– Rick West
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