Halloween preview: Hackney’s latest undead experience shows zombies are finally cool

Zombies are cool - Backyard Cinema Experience

Zombies are cool - Backyard Cinema Experience - Credit: Archant

It’s not quite clear why Hollywood has succumbed to an undead invasion over the last few years, but with films like World War Z and big budget TV show The Walking Dead, the genre’s revival is indisputable. Where once they were the preserve of spotty horror geeks, zombies are now cool.

Perhaps it’s because they’re oddly relatable. As film critic Anne Bilson once noted, zombies are the “lumpen proletariat” to the aristocracy of the vampire; maybe this explains why hoards of recession-drained young Londoners are nonetheless shelling out for increasingly popular zombie survival experiences across the capital.

Whatever the reason, the success of such nights means the climate couldn’t be better for Backyard Cinema Apocalypse: a series of ten immersive zombie experience nights in Hackney each centred on screenings of seminal genre films such as Day of the Dead and 28 Days Later.

After being led to a secret warehouse location, participants are led through decontamination and quarantine, then to a safehouse bar stocked with zombie burritos and drinks from Brooklyn Brewery. They are then free to explore the warehouse’s zombie testing facilities, where after the film screening, something might go horribly wrong and leave the audience having to fend for themselves through the amassing undead.

Hoping to entertain as well as terrify, Backyard Cinema founder Dominic Davies says the evenings have more a balance than traditional fright nights. “If you do have a scare, it’ll be met pretty quickly with something that makes you feel a bit better like some music or a bit of food.”

The company started with an aim to communalise the cinema experience and in their early days, they often screened zombie marathons in the unusual urban environments Backyard Cinema has become famous for.

Davies places the genre’s resurgence down to its incorporation with other genres, but also notes production values have opened it up to a whole new audience.

Most Read

“Films like World War Z to a die hard zombie geek probably wouldn’t be their favourite movie, but the very fact that a £200m film about zombies with Brad Pitt in it can be made is great news for the franchise.

“It’s become acceptable for girls to like things like Star Wars and Star Trek with the remakes; it’s the same with zombies. It’s now become acceptable for someone who doesn’t live in their parent’s basement to actually enjoy a zombie movie.”

Tickets are £30. Visit backyardcinema.co.uk