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Stage Review: Attack of the Rotting Corpses at ZJU

Tired of haunted houses and theme parks? Here’s another form of Halloween horror in Los Angeles.

With a play called Attack of the Rotting Corpses, it’s not as if you don’t know what you’re getting into when you walk into the theatre. Not only is the premise stated in the title; the bluntness of tone indicates a dead-pan comic approach, guaranteed to wring a few laughs from the walking dead. If you’re looking for Halloween horror with a dose of fun, but you’re burned out on haunted houses and theme parks, then head over to Zombie Joe’s Theatre to find out what happens when the inhabitants of a luxury living complex cease to be living.

Written and produced by Zombie Joe, and directed by Josh T. Ryan (who also stars), Attack of the Rotting Corpses works a simple but effective strategy. Set entirely in the reception area of 50 Peachtree, the play features two managers – one experienced, one younger – who must endure complaints and demands from residents who are such a colossal pain in the ass, with their petty bickering and trivial complaints about a scarf mislaid by the local laundromat, that dealing with their transformation into zombies seems, at least initially, like just another day at the office. Moreover, the characters are such broadly drawn caricatures that it is easy to laugh when they start dying.

The result is silly and insubstantial, but also fast and funny, with exposition shamelessly dished out by a plumber who must have a minor in microbiology, considering her ability to diagnose the water contamination turning residents into zombies. There are surreal touches (two pet dogs performed by human actors) and moments of gross-out humor (a female zombie struggling to decide whether to eat a victim’s intestine or his penis). My favorite laugh-out-loud moment occurred when a male zombie, after dragging a body away to be consumed, turned back to the reception desk, remembering to grab a fast-food delivery bag (these zombie east meat of all kinds, not just human).

Typical for Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre, props and settings were minimal; the production basically consists of the actors on a bare stage, filling the theatre with their performances – which fortunately, they were able to do, especially Ryan.

ZJU Attack of the Rotting Corpses verticalAttack of the Rotting Corpses is not disturbing or even really scary; it’s closer in tone to a film like Evil Dead II – over-the-top and outrageous. At under an hour in length, the play feels like a 50-minute espresso blast of hysteria – a sort of humorous counterpoint to the more disturbing terrors of the Urban Death Tour of Terror performances taking place at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre on Fridays and Saturdays this month.

Attack of the Rotting Corpses has two more performances: on Sunday, October 25 and on Sunday, November 1; both start at 7:30pm. Tickets are $15. Call 818-202-4120 for reservations, or visit ZombieJoes.Tix.com. Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre is located at 4850 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood.

Note: Urban Death Tour of Terror continues at Zombie Joe’s Underground, on Fridays and Saturdays, through Halloween Night. Read a review here.

Attack of the Rotting Corpses Rating

Bottom Line

Silly and insubstantial, but also fast and funny – a 50-minute espresso blast of hysteria.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.