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COVID-19 inspired someone to open a drive-in haunted house, and it’s terrifying

Published Aug 15th, 2020 9:01AM EDT
Coronavirus impact
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  • The coronavirus impact has been catastrophic for all kinds of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, with airlines, the hospitality industry, and live entertainment venues hit particularly hard.
  • After being inspired by the resurgence of drive-in theaters, one entertainment company in Tokyo, Japan, has decided to open a drive-in haunted house.
  • It’s a creative entertainment option that also takes social distancing into account.

The coronavirus impact has been swift and brutal across a range of industries, devasting small and large businesses alike and reshaping expectations around how companies can safely engage with consumers. Along with things like airline travel and the hospitality industry, entertainment venues have been decimated for the past six months or so of the coronavirus pandemic in the US. How are you supposed to responsibly watch a live music performance at a club, or enjoy something like a sports game at an indoor complex, while also staying socially-distanced from a massive crowd of people?Just in the past few days, event organizers in the UK took a stab at trying to safely re-imagine what a concert experience might look like in the age of the coronavirus. An outdoor venue in Gosforth Park, in the northern England city of Newcastle, has started hosting concerts by corralling small groups of people in raised metal platform pens that are spread out to account for social distancing. In Tokyo, meanwhile, people are getting even more creative.

The resurgence of drive-in movies gave one entertainment company in Japan’s capital city the idea to try something fun — opening a drive-in haunted house.

It’s every bit as terrifying as you might imagine, and you can check out some video below. Basically, visitors drive into a covered parking garage in downtown Tokyo. You park and turn the car off. The ensuing experience involves grotesque-looking zombies coming at you, from all around your car, giving you a 360-degree, first-person simulation of being trapped in a zombie outbreak.

“With the virus, I knew there would be no way we could have a traditional haunted house, with all that screaming in a small, confined space,” said Kenta Iwana, founder of the Japanese haunted house and horror event production company Kowagarasetai, in an interview with CNN. “When I read that drive-through theaters were making a comeback, it was my ‘aha’ moment.”

As part of this experience, guests receive a set of Bluetooth speakers to listen to inside their car, through which a scary story begins to be told. “Around these parts,” a narrator says at one point, “there’s a legend that the ghosts attack humans. Honk your horn three times if you want to hear more.”

At which point, for almost 20 minutes, your ride begins to be surrounded by bloody ghosts and zombies. They rock your car and generally try to scare you to death, no pun intended.

A rough translation of Iwana’s Japanese company name, Kowagarasetai, is “the Scaredy Squad” in English. “My parents rented horror movies and let me watch them play (Resident Evil 7) since I was three,” Iwana said. “Ghosts are like Pokemon to me.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.