Covid Halloween: ZJU Theatre will torture your soul

In the eighth installment of Halloween in the Time of Coronavirus, Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group moves its unique brand of avant garde theatrical horror off the stage and out of doors.

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group is not presenting its annual Urban Death Tour of Terror this Halloween. Instead, they are offering a new outdoor horror experience that promises to be Covid-safe. Unlike many of ZJU's interactive productions, Tortured Souls Threshold will be completely non-contact, allowing audience members to enter only in groups of one or two for a haunting twenty-minute experience.

Zombie Joe himself answered some question about the process that led to Tortured Souls Threshold taking the stage this Halloween.

Hollywood Gothique: How did Covid-19 impact Urban Death Tour of Terror? Obviously it's live theatre, but also the line between audience and actors is blurry; plus, there's the walk-through the tight maze. Did you brain storm ways to make Urban Death work with Covid safety precautions? Or was it immediately apparent that you would have to abandon Urban Death and do something different this year? 

Zombie Joe: We had been painstakingly spending time trying to figure out how Urban Death might work, and came up with a couple possible blueprints, but ultimately had no choice but to re-think what our Halloween Season might look like. We had been in early development stages of other passions and projects, and it wasn't long before it became clear that Tortured Souls Threshold was the perfect fit.

Hollywood Gothique: How did you go about imagining a live event to replace Urban Death that would be safe but still work as a Halloween event? 

Zombie Joe: Honestly, a lot of research, workshopping, and trial-and-error drilling-testing. During COVID, we're trying to look at everything we're doing as an ongoing safe experiment and one big learning experience.

Hollywood Gothique: What strategies were considered? Were any abandoned and for whatever reason – were some simply not practicable or too expensive? 

Zombie Joe: We are ready and willing to spend whatever dollars and resources to create a wonderful, scary and (most importantly) safe experience for our participants, so the projects that were shelved in favor of Tortured Souls Threshold primarily involved questions of practical logistics and concerns for everyone's health and safety.

Hollywood Gothique: What was the core element of Zombie Joe production that you wanted to preserve? 

Zombie Joe: An ultra-safe, kick-ass experience that our amazing company can pour their hearts and artistry into, and one that our beloved participants can enjoy the shit out of and (hopefully) feel that they're time and money is well spent.  We understand that we're asking more than a lot of everyone to trust us and come out to ZJU to check out our offering - this is a big responsibility that we take very seriously, and no lengths are too great to safeguard.

Hollywood Gothique: Besides the obvious precautions, how different is TORTURED SOULS THRESHOLD from URBAN DEATH? 

Zombie Joe: Tortured Souls Threshold has the heart, power, joy and storytelling of any intense ZJU production. The stakes are extra-high, and this is a new kind of format-experience for all of us, and yes - something different.

Hollywood Gothique: Did any of the changes made for safety reasons turn out to be something you might want to carry over next year, when, presumably, the pandemic will be over? 

Zombie Joe: Absolutely. All of Them.  Safety and Confidence in our Programming is paramount.


Tortured Souls Threshold Info & Covid-19 Safety Protocols

Directed by Zombie Joe & Elif Savas, the two-week engagement of Tortured Souls Threshold includes performances Wednesday through Sunday from October 21 until November 1. Tickets are $35 and are sold in time slots for each private-group experience. Participants must be 18 years or older and sign a liability waiver, which includes the risk of being in public during our pandemic.

Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group is located at 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA  91601. For more information, call 818-202-4120, or visit ZombieJoes.com.

ZJU Theatre Covid Safety Guidlines Below:

  • All Door Handles, Thresholds & Surfaces will be disinfected frequently during all hours of operation.
  • All Participants must wear a mask at all times (correctly - not under their nose) and to sanitize their hands (sanitizer will be available).
  • If you are not feeling well on the night of your experience, please do not attend.
  • The Experience is viewed from outdoors; there will be no entry into the ZJU building.  Socially distant guidelines will be observed.
  • The Experience is completely contactless: Cast Members and ZJU Staff will not touch participants.
  • There will be zero contact between groups. Participants must show their designated time-slot confirmation email upon arrival.
  • All Cast Members will have their temperature checked upon arrival each night; Cast Members and ZJU Staff will wear face coverings, and be given sanitizing supplies.

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.

%d bloggers like this: