Zombie Joe’s Underground is a tiny crackerbox-sized indie theater with a facade that gives little clue to the clever perversity within. You definitely do not want to take your little nephew Marky to see this. This award winning haunt has little to say verbally, but knows how to shake the living crap out of you. Once inside, you just have to buck up and take it, because once you are in your metal folding chair you are stuck in a short but mind-blowing celebration of all things in the manner of death, desperation and physical decay.
ZJU is a repertory theater dedicated the macabre side of life, death and the possibility of something afterwards. None of it is very happy, despite some gross-out humor. Every weekend, ZJU serves up weird mash-ups like “Romeo And Juliette and Vampires” or a cheeky comedy about zombies taking over the nearby Park La Brea Condos.
Their jewel in the crown is the rotating versions of Urban Death, a total mind fuck of a collection of sketches ranging anywhere from 15 seconds to a few minutes long. Hopefully they will resurrect the “Zombie Dogpile,” which impresses me more and more each time I see it. The theater holds about forty people at a time, tops, and there is not a bad seat anywhere. But I strongly encourage you to get in the first two rows if you can.
The scenic design consists of nothing but black floors and walls, so when the house lights cut out, you are enveloped in total darkness that really adds to the uneasiness. Especially after you’ve been exposed to the torment the cast heaps in your face during the first couple of skits.
Every October, Zombie Joe presents his Tour Of Terror, a nod to the Halloween Haunted Maze. The smack down combination of children killed in drive-bys, necrophilia, the fascination of tampons and ripe and ready boils is preceded by a short maze in the lobby. The maze is followed by a shortened version of the best of Urban Death, plus a couple of short surprises thrown in. Once the play portion of Urban Death has ceased, the maze re-opens for your escape into the real world. But hold on…you’re not safe yet, our “little Buddy” Zombie Joe has pulled a fast one. It made me jump last year, and that’s not always easy.
ZJU Theater Group 4850 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood,91601 1-818-202-4120 Reserve Tickets now. Each night has about four performances. $13.00 on Weekend nights.
Tell Joe that Dukey sent you.