The world of horror lost a beloved icon when Bill Hinzman lost his battle with cancer on Sunday. There are few faces more iconic in my mind than that of Zombie #1. Night of the Living Dead is my favorite film of all time and, with the possible exception of Rocky Horror Picture Show, the movie I have seen the most times in my life. I couldn't begin to count how many times I've watched him shuffle among the graves as Johnny intones "They're coming to get you Barbara." I also couldn't begin to count how many times I've thrown that flick in at the end of a long day and faded off to sleep watching him bash Johnny's head in and break that window. It's my go to cinematic comfort food, and he is definitely one of the main ingredients. His pale visage is imprinted on my mind the same way Misfits songs are. I know that might sound overly sentimental to some, but I don't care. He terrified audiences, and at one time he scared me too, but for years seeing him has actually warmed my heart, and I'm sad to see him go.
Hinzman holds a very special place in horror history. He was the first zombie seen in the film that redefined what a zombie was, making him the first modern zombie ever on celluloid. He worked with Romero again, appearing in The Crazies and Season of the Witch. Since then he's appeared in films such as Santa Claws and Shadow: Dead Riot. He also directed a couple of fright flicks; The Majorettes and, ironically, Flesheater. In recent years was a fixture on the convention circuit. I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, but I have never heard him described as anything but pleasant, friendly, fun, and genuine by those who have. Son of Celluloid would like to offer condolences to his family and friends, and thank him sincerely for his contributions to the horror genre.