Non-Registered Critics: Dan Waldkirch


DarkDarkRideRide Holiday Nightmare!

Dark Dark Ride Ride Holiday Nightmare is an immensely fun theater experience unlike anything in the country. When the ZJU launched the first DDRR earlier this year, it was immediately obvious that they had stumbled upon something truly special, and likely the next great Zombie Joe franchise – to sit beside Urban Death and Blood Alley. This Holiday Nightmare is a worthy successor to the original, and a truly wild ride – your move, Mr. Toad.

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The Bogeyman

The Bogeyman feels like an early entry into Zombie’s experiments with blindfolds. If there’s a complaint to be made, it’s that there is certainly room for more variety in the textures and sounds to be encountered, and the senses of smell and taste are not explored at all. But there’s more than enough entertainment in The Bogeyman, and the twenty-minute running time is just right. It’s a creepy, funny, sexy show that sparks the imagination. Just close your eyes – or let Zombie Joe close them for you.

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URBAN DEATH TOUR OF TERROR: Haunted Theatre Attraction!

...Urban Death Tour of Terror 2019 is like a tasting menu for horror fans, offering small bites of violence, sex, monsters, ghosts, and many things that have no name or category...

It’s astounding that after years of attending countless shows at ZJU, I have yet to witness anything that I could confidently call a mistake.

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Beasts from the Sea!

Beasts features one of the most elaborately decorated sets seen at ZJU, with beautifully scrappy makeup and costumes, as well as painted walls, interesting lighting, and props strewn everywhere...

Beasts from the Sea is undoubtedly one of the silliest Zombie Joe productions in quite some time. Outside of the physical darkness, as well as a few classic jump scares, the show is colorful, hilarious, weird, and at times even cute. If you’re in the area and need a quick hit of insanity, Beasts from the Sea is worth a dive.

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URBAN DEATH for kidz

Make no mistake, Urban Death is creepy show, no matter one’s age. But this version is well-suited for ten-year-olds, and aims more for delightful chills and fun than abject terror. There are few, if any, jump scares, and the darker scenes will often produce a greater sense of wonder than fear. While less than half of the scenes could be described as pure horror (much of the rest being straight comedy), the creep factor emerges in short bursts, with increasing intensity, and leads to a delightful climax of spooky and magical scenes. The fear factor of the show could be compared to something like the Haunted Mansion, perhaps heightened by the intimacy of the theater and proximity of the performers.

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Monsters of Man: A Supernatural Anthology

Ruttan’s voice as a writer-director is strong, unique, and more than welcome. She seems most interested in playing with the rules of each world, and has a natural talent for parceling out information at just the right pace. She also manages to weave in social commentary and allegory, always tasteful and in service of the narrative. While her dialogue can be stiff at times, her big ideas more than make up for it, and it’s exciting to imagine future work where she finds a balance more consistently. That said, Monsters of Man contains a handful of lingering images and ideas that make it easily worth the price of admission.

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Cemetery of Tortured Souls

Zombie's immersive experiments are getting stronger, and likely heading toward something truly spectacular. On that road, Cemetery of Tortured Souls is a vibrant and entertaining step forward.

With Cemetery of Tortured Souls, ZJU continues to develop its own brand of immersive theater, with a wide array of creative interactions. It is thrilling to see Zombie and company continue their wild experimentation, developing what works and abandoning what doesn't.

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Blood Alley Christmas

If you've never seen a Zombie Joe show before, Blood Alley: Christmas is a great place to start. But be warned, this one might just get you placed on the naughty list... This writer's favorite recent discovery at ZJU is Warren Hall, whose slinky, twitchy, physical genius has been a joy to watch over the last few iterations of Urban Death and Blood Alley.

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