You find yourself seated in the pitch black of a locked and lightless room. The whipping winds and pounding rain of a fierce storm ring in your ears. Thunder cracks. A lightning flash reveals a bare stage and 50 other lost, trembling souls who are quickly swallowed by the Stygian darkness. Another crack and this time the lightning freezes a deranged, blood-smeared psychopath — in mid–ax swing — as he is about to decapitate some unlucky Wilson in the front row. And the evening's nightmare has only just begun. Welcome to Urban Death at Zombie Joe's Underground — 35 unspeakable (and unspoken) horror vignettes pantomimed in 55 minutes of delirious, hilarious, white-knuckle terror every Saturday at 11 p.m. Grand Guignol doesn't get any grander, gorier or more unhinged than in director Zombie Joe's long-running, late-night chamber play of the perverse. Watch as a pile of blackened, grimacing corpses gasp and twitch back to life; recoil as an unseen critter claws and scurries past your feet; feel your jaw hit the floor, as a demented chorus of menstruating dancers squat over a bucket and, er, relieve themselves of their soiled tampons. Now in its fourth year, Urban Death mines every horror genre known to man or beast — and then some — and stages their gruesome chills and thrills in a weekly tour de force of shock, subversive wit and artful misdirection. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Then come back next week for more. 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd. (818) 202-4120,

—Bill Raden

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