Ron McCall says he got the idea for a live-action zombie fighting game when he was playing paintball.
During a first-season wrap party for the True Justice television series, McCall, who handles the weapons used in the show as its property master, teamed up with the show’s stunt co-ordinator to win the game.
But the event wasn’t as much fun as it could have been for McCall, a 45-year-old Langley resident with years of film and television experience that includes horror and action-adventure productions like Hellraiser: Hellseeker, Vampire,” and Max Havoc: Ring of Fire.
Next to those shows, the premise for a typical paintball game seemed lacking, to say the least.
“There’s a case of ammo and you have to fight for it. Kind of boring.”
Zombies, McCall thought, would make the whole thing a lot more interesting.
“I’ve been a big zombie fan for years.”
That notion led to creation of the Zombie Combat Zone, which opened Friday on a 57-acre site at 19022 16 Ave. in South Surrey.
It is billed as “Canada’s first and only zombie-themed paintball park.”
McCall compares it to Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, the often-staged improvisational live theatre production that has audience members become part of the show by pretending they are guests at a profoundly dysfunctional and funny wedding.
Only rather than confetti and cheap wine, McCall’s show involves weapons and the undead.
Players go on an after-dark mission into a zombie-infested zone to locate and rescue a group of missing scientists, discover the source of the plague that has caused the dead to rise, and, if possible, stop it.
Unlike ordinary paintball games, players only shoot at zombies, not other players. Players use gear provided by the the game, with lower-pressure paintball guns, and no physical contact is allowed between zombies and players.
McCall says his zombies move at “medium-fast” speed – not quite as slow as the undead from the cult-classic George Romero film, Night of The Living Dead, but not as speedy as the “rage-virus” zombies seen in the Danny Boyle film, 28 Days Later.
“They’re the steroid version of the Romero zombies,” McCall says.
Unlike a traditional haunted house, with lots of noise and screaming, Zombie Combat Zone aims for what McCall describes as “Hitchcockian” sense of dread, where the silence is full of foreboding, suddenly broken by, for example, a flashlight revealing an undead threat unexpectedly close.
“The scare instead of the boo,” McCall says.
Besides McCall, the game’s sound designer, zombie manager, makeup artist and prosthetics designer all have film and television industry credits as well.
During the first full-dress run-through, McCall says one performer playing a soldier started getting jumpy and anxious, even though he knew what was coming.
“We knew we were onto something.”
The site warns prospective players to expect an immersive experience.
“There will be blood, gore, zombies, violence, loud noises, gunfire, strobe lights, smoke, fire, darkness and last but not least… Pyrotechnics! You may get blood on you too…”
The main game is not recommended for kids under 13, unless accompanied by an adult.
For those not up to 30 minutes of running through the woods, there will be a zombie shooting gallery where, for $10, players get 30 paintballs to fire at the undead.
For Halloween, McCall is planning a kid-friendly zombie walk, including a zombie obstacle course where younger players can compete against a shuffling, rotted opponent.
In this instance, victory is assured.
Next year, McCall is thinking about doing a Predator-themed game, based on the dreadlocked human-hunting aliens first seem in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger film.
All bookings must be done online, at www.zombiecombatzone.com