Like a zombie rising from the grave, Junkyard Zombies has risen from the ashes of the late, lamented, Rocky Point Haunted House.
Cydney Neil, the owner and producer of Rocky Point for almost three decades, is back in town with a new attraction at her old site in South Salt Lake. Junkyard Zombies is not your average haunted house it's an interactive game in which players use laser-tag guns to shoot actors in zombie makeup. Really good zombie makeup.
It's a lot of fun, and so is the story behind it. Most local haunted attractions spend the entire off-season preparing to open; Junkyard Zombies came together in a matter of weeks.
"It was just a little idea," Neil said. "And so four or five weeks ago, I drove around for an hour looking for a building. And I hear something telling me, 'You already have a building.' And I knew what that meant."
In 2007, the building at 3400 S. Main Street was sold to developers and Rocky Point came to a sudden and unanticipated end. It's been empty since then.
Neil spent the next four years caring for her ailing father. When he passed away, she began thinking about an interactive attraction, and was led back to her old haunts.
The current owners quickly agreed to allow Neil and her partners, Battlefield Live Utah, set up for one last season.
"I know it sounds crazy, but I truly believe that the delays on this building were due to the fact that we had unfinished business," Neil said.
But there was an enormous amount of work to do and not much time to get everything ready and up to code. The building had been gutted; it was surrounded by mounds of dirt and weeds; and it was filled with pigeons. "Remarkably, it all came together," Neil said.
Junkyard Zombies has its share of scares. As you walk through, zombies are hidden in vehicles and other junk in fenced-in areas, ready to leap out and startle you.
And, as you might expect, the sound of screaming teenage girls fills the air. "I love to hear those screams again," Neil said with a laugh.
Your job is to shoot as many zombies as possible with your laser-tag gun and your score is tallied at the end of a 10-minute session. There are prizes for the winners of each round, and each customer's name goes into a drawing for a weekly prize and a grand prize a role in a zombie movie short when the show ends its run on Dec. 1.
The event is a metaphor of sorts for Neil and the Rocky Point Haunted House.
"These are a different kind of zombies," Neil said. "These are not the ones wanting to eat your brains. These zombies are here wanting you to kill them because they've remained in this building and were all ready to go. And we all need to let go of this. We can finally tell our story, rest in peace, let it go and have a happy ending."
Or you can just go and shoot zombies.
"That, too," Neil said with a laugh.
Where • 3400 S. Main Street, South Salt Lake
When • Through Nov. 3; Tuesday-Thursday, 7-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m.-midnight. From Nov. 9-Dec. 1, Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m-midnight.
Tickets • $10 at junkyardzombies.com, or availble at the door