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As the doctor advising the survivors explains the only way to kill a zombie is a bullet to the brain, the half eviscerated living corpse on the table takes a chunk out of the careless medic’s arm. Sounding the alarm, Sergeant John “Mack” McKinsey, rushes into the room. Seeing the doc is infected, there’s no other option.
A shot rings out. The doctor goes down.
“Follow me if you want to live!”
So starts the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse, an intense 20-minute descent into the end of the world, as we know it— and the biggest, most unique “total immersion” Halloween horror experience the city of Atlanta (or anywhere else for that matter) has ever seen.
“After I saw the facility for the first time, the idea immediately crystallized in my mind, visually. I could see a zombie movie unspooling; the whole story,” recalls makeup FX artist, multi-instrument rocker, set designer, prop-maker, performer best known to Atlantans as the irrepressible “Ghost Host With The Most” (Professor Morte of the award-winning Silver Scream Spookshow), architect of this insane zombie Armageddon and all around local legend Shane Morton.
“I got a call from Fred Woelter a few months ago,” Morton explains. “He and his father, George, had bought up this large chunk of land and were turning it into what’s now the biggest paintball site in the Southeast, and they wanted to open a Halloween attraction. After nearly 30 years designing haunted houses and working on amusement park attractions and building movie sets, it was a no-brainer. This place is like having the Universal Studios backlot to play with.”
Situated on 35 acres of land close to Hartsfield Airport, the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse utilizes over 100,000 square feet of space including a huge, derelict two-story motel, an expansive court yard/open space, a gutted diner, convenience store and an immense truck bay. Morton’s mad vision involves over 100 zombies, two dozen soldiers, bikers, zombie strippers, lost kids, and a mad scientist you don’t want to mess with. As soon as he’d met with the Woelters, Morton called his frequent partner in creative crime, Atlanta-based filmmaker Jonathan Rej of Authority Films, who is also the co-owner, along with his wife, Gayle, of the award-winning Plaza Theatre, the city’s oldest continuously operating cinema.
“I’ve been doing the Spookshow for four years, and it wouldn’t have happened without Jonny,” Morton admits. “I’ve written 48 plays now, so I’ve got my theater chops, but Jonny’s responsible for a lot of the script and over a quarter of the gags. Sometimes I need to be reined in a bit.”
Once he saw the location, Rej says he was “blown away because of the possibilities. The place already looks like the apocalypse has hit without us needing to do anything to it. To be able to take a real place such as this truck stop, and make it a Halloween attraction is amazing. It feels real because it is real.” That said, Morton and Rej, supported by the hard work of a small, dedicated creative team headed by set designer/builder, Scotty Mominee, have taken a ripe location and pushed its potential beyond permit restrictions to create a unique movie-like experience. (To get a taste of the action, check out the official “trailer” below.)
Barely a week after opening on October 1, the attraction immediately started winning kudos from the media and “survivors” alike with Haunt Reviewers stating, “you literally become a part of the zombie movie of your life.”
The Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse is open Thursday-Sunday, October 14-17, Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 21-24 and Tuesday-Sunday, Oct. 26-31, 8 p.m.-midnight or later. Admission is $20.00 per person. Shooting zombies with paintball guns is an additional $15 (combo ticket is $30), and parking $3 (to feed the zombies kept caged on display in the forecourt). For more information, go to the official website.
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