(AP) — It’s a living nightmare – but a socially distanced one. Zombies attack vehicles, smearing them with blood. But the visitors inside are safely separated from their ghoulish stalkers by the windscreen.
Production company Kowagarasetai (roughly translated as ‘Scare Squad’) launched this drive-through haunted house in answer to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have started this drive-in because we cannot get close to customers (at a traditional haunted house),” explains Daichi Ono, a cast member at the drive-in haunted house.
“But the distance (between customers and cast) has actually got shorter since there is only a window between them. It’s way closer than before – like standing nose to nose. Many customers say that they never got so close before.”
Unlike a traditional haunted house, where guests can flee if frightened, here customers are confined to their cars and cannot escape the horrors during the 13-minute performance.
With no actual contact between audience and performers, the risk of passing on the virus is virtually eliminated.
And of course, inside their cars, customers can scream as loudly as they like.
“When customers use their own cars, they do not need to get out of their cars at all. They enjoy it and go home with their cars right away,” says Daichi Ono.
This idea is one method to get people to leave their homes and start paying for live entertainment again.
Innovative ways of doing business are welcome as Japan’s tourist industry struggles with the impact of the pandemic
“After a state of emergency, the tourism industry was heavily affected by a wave of self-restraint. It’s tremendous damage for us. One local tourism company expressed this situation using the word “evaporation.” They feel that their customers are evaporating. It’s a big deal for us,” says Akira Nakamura, executive director of Japan Travel and Tourism Association.
“There are many people who are stressed out and just want to go out. But because of concerns including their social moralities, many people tend to stay quiet,” says Daichi Ono.
“Such people can come (to our place), have fun without being worried about being criticized and relieve their stress. That’s the happiest thing for us.”
Once the horror is over, instead of eating brains, these helpful zombies actually clean the blood off the cars they attacked just minutes earlier.
The company, which frightens 11 to 13 carloads of people a day on average, aims to expand the business nationwide.