Some Fresh Blood

There has been a breakout at the zombie penitentiary!

That's happening in one alleyway off of the main Town Square. Another side street holds Carnival Caverns—where sadistic clowns are running rampant—and straight for you!

These flesh-eating zombies and chainsaw-wielding clowns only come out at night. In the daytime, this town features quite a different look ... an Old West look.

Walk past the Corner Store, and you'll find the Iron Door Mine. "This former gold mine produces no longer, however the miners are still there ..." warns the summary on the Nightfall entertainment schedule.

This year, Old Tucson's Nightfall boasts quite the array of brand-new street characters and haunting shows, after organizers left behind their 20-year run of shows based on theme of Mr. Hyde and insane asylums.

"Hyde was swallowed up by the earth, never to be heard from again," says Rob Jensen, who doubles as the entertainment manager for Old Tucson and the headliner character, Hobart "Pappy" Gainey, in "Dead of Night," Nightfall's signature show.

"This year, we have clowns, zombies, aliens, hippies, stoners—the whole gamut," he says.

Jenson wrote "Dead of Night." We won't give away the ending, but expect a fair share of gore and serial-killer-themed content, all staged at Pappy's Scrapyard—where murderers converge.

The show is set up on one of Old Tucson's back lots and is littered with junk cars, scrap metal and selectively placed trash heaps. Stunt gags and pyrotechnics are heavily used throughout the show—so sitting in the front row may be hazardous to your health.

With the 12 new buildings and shows built around a theme of clowns, Nightfall expects to attract spectators who have a variety of horror interests. In one instance, a woman saunters down the street with her zombie-bred baby eating its way through her stomach.

"Now that's a cheap abortion, for those who don't have the money," Jensen says.

Expect zombie mama to follow you into the Corner Store (even the bathroom—it's true). The main purpose for you in the store may be to stock up on spooky hats and skull bracelets, but the scares won't let up, wherever you go.

The point of Nightfall is to allow ticketholders a chance at Halloween scares all month long. The horror show also offers a treat for returning actors like Adam Lindenauer, who plays a cop-eating ghoul at the Zombie Lock Down.

"I like the people who jump up and down instead of running from me—it's hard not to laugh sometimes," he says. "I'll keep coming back. This is my favorite job. I love scaring people."

While most of the gags at Nightfall provide good scares, one show provides some political commentary. Noel Phillips—who, like many employees, pulls double-duty at Old Tucson—is the lead stunt man and head writer for the show "Gross Encounters." He also plays Billy Bob, the "Patriot of America" in the show, who has one serious vendetta against illegal immigrants and President Obama.

Elsewhere, gargoyles hang out on top of Town Hall; they've flown in from New York just for the opportunity to heckle unsuspecting folk.

"I could watch you eat nachos all day. Yeah—that's sexy-like," Guido and Vinny quip.

Asylum Bites is where you find the chow, including churros, nachos, chicken tenders and curly fries. A full bar is available in the Grand Palace Saloon, which at different times during Nightfall hosts "The Web," a multimedia show complete with strobe lights, billowing smoke from an unmanned stage, and music videos by Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne and Marilyn Manson—all played at a high volume for those interested in dancing.

Jensen says he's proud of the content they've been rehearsing since May. He calls Nightfall's cast "one big family."

"We pride ourselves on a quality product," says the man who once played Hyde. "We have a lot of fresh blood this year ... literally."

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