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Zombie Mall: Test Run for a Night of Living Dead

In a former mall in England, visitors can pay to battle virtual zombies. (Photo by Rodrigo Coca / FotoArena / LatinContent …

A growl. A rustle. The corpse twitches — and the race for survival is on! The town of Reading in England offers visitors practice for the undead apocalypse, just 30 minutes away from London's Paddington Station by train.

Zed Events invites players into a George Romero-esque horror flick at the now-closed Friars Walk shopping center, There, they can battle ghoulish hordes with Airsoft pump-action shotguns, which fire small plastic pellets. The four-hour Zombie Shopping Mall experience ($225) includes free-form mayhem as well as "run and gun" missions like protecting a VIP.

The eerie empty mall amps up the adrenaline with a dank basement, labyrinthine hallways and pitch-black storage spaces.

Forget standard-issue shufflers and moaners. These "infected" can move rapidly and even strategize, ripping open shutters and swarming out of the play area's ball pit. (Maybe eating brains really does pay off?)

Shots to the head tend to be a key strategy for fending off zombies on the silver screen. But Zed Events asks players to aim lower so they don't endanger the living dead, a mix of gored-up drama students and "professional zombies."

The experience "makes an afternoon of paintball look like herbal tea and Scrabble," reported David Clack for the entertainment guide Time Out London. But fans should jump on these "Shaun of the Dead"-style sessions faster than a survivor scrabbling for ammo. Friars Walk is slated for demolition — and, unlike its current occupants, it may never be reanimated.

by Amanda Castleman

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