February 6, 2012

Goodbye Graveyard Zombie: Bill Hinzman (1936-2012)

It is with great disappointment that I relay some sad information reported yesterday by Dread Central. Bill Hinzman, best known as the Cemetery Zombie from George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, passed away on February 5th from cancer at the age of 76.

Bill Hinzman, born Samuel William Hinzman, was a notable figure on the horror convention circuit and within zombie circles for his role as the first zombie to appear in Night of the Living Dead (1968). Hinzman had the distinction of being the first-ever example of the Romero-style zombie that would go on to inspire countless imitators. Hinzman was always proud of his role, and horror fans can attest to seeing him at conventions walking the floor in full costume and makeup and taking pictures with fans and zombie enthusiasts.

Coming on the zombie scene in Night of the Living Dead as the Cemetery Zombie and as an uncredited assistant camera operator,  Hinzman later wrote, directed, and and starred in is own zombie feature in 1988: FleshEater (review). He also directed The Majorettes, a 1987 slasher film about a killer who targets the members of a school's majorette squad.

Despite working as cinematographer on other films such as Romero's The Crazies and making acting appearances in films such as River of Darkness (2010), Hinzman will always be remembered as the Cemetery Zombie. He lives on in Night of the Living Dead's countless iterations as well as in the merchandise and dolls celebrating his iconic role as one of the most memorable zombies in one of the most important horror films ever made.