Doctor Zomba’s Ghost Show of Terror (playing Saturday nights this month at the Flight stage in the Complex Theater in Hollywood is a welcome throwback to the good old days of spookshows — those monstrously entertaining combinations of magic, horror hosting, vaudeville, burlesque and monster movies. Well, it’s most of that — creator David Lucarelli and director Kevin Wetmore pack a lot of fast-paced fun into 45 short minutes, including the part most spookshow revivals usually lack, the stage magic. But of course, it’s theater and not a movie theater, so the audience is there to enjoy the goings-on on stage rather than staying after the end of the presentation to watch a horror movie (as was the tradition in the golden age of midnight spookshows).
But we certainly don’t miss the movie, because Doctor Zomba (David M. Beach) does it all: Ventriloquism, stage magic, freakshow stunts, comedy and juggling. And he’s not alone, because you also get the wacky but menacing Ear Gore (Kerr Lordygan) and the sexy and mysterious Sirena (Tamara Torres). Don’t worry about that coffin on stage behind the shenanigans, it couldn’t possibly have Count Dracula (S. Alessandro Martinez) waiting inside it… could it?
There’s a goofy but gothic plotline that ties the whole thing together, with Doctor Zomba and his offstage rival Professor Pain in a cycle of revenge and counter-revenge that involves a bottle of gin, a hypno-wheel and a little machine called the Mutilator. Things are not quite what they seem, of course, and before you know it there are reversals, drunken horror hosts and flying body parts (from Sirena’s exotic dance of the dead, and maybe one or two other things).
If you love the cheesy fun side of horror, Halloween in June, spooky theater and illusionists, you’ll love this show — and you have three more Saturdays plus a pay-what-you-can Monday (June 18) to catch Doctor Zomba’s Ghost Show of Terror. Consider yourself warned, consider the show recommended, and consider it a date.