Bill Hinzman, the first zombie seen onscreen in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, passed away last week at the age of 75. His brief appearance at the beginning of the film was so memorable that it granted him the status of a cult horror icon. And for the next forty years Mr. Hinzman was a fan favorite at horror conventions around the country.
While Night Of The Living Dead forever redefined zombies as mindless, shambling flesh eaters, Hinzman’s performance was anything but. He wrestled with his victims, attempted to unlock a car door, crashed through a glass window using a rock and even gave chase to a moving vehicle! It was surprisingly inconsistent with Romero’s vision of the undead, and preceded the whole “slow zombie vs. fast zombie” debate by decades!
According to his daughter, Mr. Hinzman actually had a sense of humor about his death and burial saying “He always joked with me that if he got buried he would come back.” Well, if he does come back… we certainly hope that it’s not as a FleshEater! Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Hizman’s family.