Bill Hinzman – First NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD Zombie Really Dead at 76
He was the silver screen’s first zombie and now he’s dead for real. George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) was not technically the first zombie movie, but it was the first to present the living dead in the way that we know and love. Bill Hinzman played what’s known as “The Graveyard Zombie”, the flesh-eating, slow-moving ghoul who attacks Barbara (Judith O’Dea) and her brother in the iconic film’s opening minutes. Hinzman was a staple on the horror movie convention circuit and would often dress up in ratty clothes and zombie makeup to pose with his many fans. I had the pleasure of interviewing Hinzman onstage at the Kitbuilders Monstrous Weekend convention here in St. Louis three years ago and at midnight, I screened a 16mm print of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD which he sat and watched with us. Bill Hinzman had a few other roles in horror films including a bit in Romero’s THE CRAZIES (1974) as well as straight-to-video schlock such as SANTA CLAWS (1988). In 1988, Hinzman wrote, directed, and co-starred in FLESHEATER where he (sorta) reprised his role from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. There have been dolls, busts, and model kits of the “The Graveyard Zombie”, the brief role that cemented Bill Hinzman’s place in cult movie immortality. He died today of cancer at age 76.