By Laura Burgoine
Zombies are all the rage at the moment, even Brad Pitt is buying into them with his latest flick (flop?) World War Z. But for those who find the cinema a bit too passive, close encounters with the living dead are now more accessible than ever with zombies lurking as nearby as the tunnels under Waterloo station.
It was an ordinary Wednesday evening when my boss and I found ourselves wandering around the Vaults in search of the entrance to the mysterious Zombie Blitz. We’d been pre-warned to wear old clothes that we didn’t mind getting dirty and sensible shoes; I had a feeling this theatre experience was going to be a lot more immersive than the usual fanfare at the Old Vic upstairs.
Stumbling across a 1940s themed garden tea party, costumed actors assured us we were in the right place before presenting us with sandwiches and cake on Royal Doulton plates and lacing us with some Dutch courage in the way of G&Ts. It was a bizarre prelude to the bloodbath we were trying to mentally prepare ourselves for but after growing increasingly nervous with over an hour of anticipation, our group of fifteen was finally lead into an ominous hallway by our host, an American World War II soldier. Huddling inside a tiny bunker, we were informed the air-raid sound effects outside meant we couldn’t escape through the door and our only hope of escape was to crawl through a tiny air vent. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” my boss exclaimed, before obediently joining the queue of unsuspecting saps crawling on our hands and knees through a dark, dusty passageway that I’m entirely certain couldn’t possibly comply with public health and safety guidelines.
We spill out into a darker room, this time a maze of cupboards and lockers that we were kind of guided through, still confused, before wandering into an open space where a zombie girl clinging to prison bars screeched at us. We were still sceptical at this stage, that is until we looked up to find a zombie crawling across the ceiling. Foolishly thinking the zombie was a safe distance away, the room filled with blood-curling screams as, attached to a rope, he instantaneously descended into the group and began flailing around trying to grab us. From this point on the rest of the tour was a semi-traumatic blur of running, screaming, laughing, and constantly turning around to find zombies launching towards us. It combined all the unpleasantness of being chased with the spine-chilling uncertainty of a horror movie. If you like being scared then this is right up your alley. If you don’t, it’s still very amusing. After finally finding the light at the end of the tunnel, we emerge covered in dust, sweat and fake zombie blood and headed directly to the pub to calm our nerves.
Apocalypse Events’ Zombie Blitz is running performances every Sunday from 28 July-27 October at the Vaults, Leake Street, SE1 7NN (three minutes walk from Waterloo station, opposite the former Old Vic tunnels). Admission: £65 per person. http://wish.co.uk/zombie-battle-london/