From the mobile unit of ZSC Commander-in-Chief, Juliette Terzieff, with special guest Gary Streiner:
When we think of iconic horror movie moments it isn’t long before visions of Bill Hinzman lurching through the Evans City Cemetery towards unsuspecting siblings Barbra and Johnny in the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead float to the top. Like the gruesome murder of Janet Leigh in the infamous Psycho shower scene, or Linda Blair’s impossible head gymnastics in The Exorcist, the image of that first modern-era zombie seeking out a meal remains a favorite of horror fans around the globe.
George Romero’s black and white masterpiece is legend. A singular piece of filmmaking that has inspired generations of writers, artists, musicians, actors and filmmakers to probe through decaying flesh in search of the monster inside us all.
Night of the Living Dead fans and members of the movie’s production crew have joined forces in a labor of love to save the chapel featured in the movie’s opening sequence—which happens to be the last original building from the movie that still stands. The Evans City Chapel hasn’t been in use for decades, except as a storage shed, and is facing the wrecking ball.
Over the last year my guest today, Gary Streiner, NOTLD’s sound engineer and brother of Russ Streiner who played Johnny, has been helping drive a campaign to save the chapel. In that time Fix the Chapel has raised almost $50,000, inspired videos and given birth to an anthology Stories from the Chapel.
But the battle is not won yet. Even if the campaign successfully raises the fund’s required by the cemetery association to prevent a demolition, campaigners will be in place to help oversee the repairs.
It is with a sad and heavy heart that we bid good-bye to the most iconic zombie of our time—Bill Hinzman. The first zombie to make an appearance in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Bill continued his career as an actor, writer, cinematographer, director, and editor and most times he stood in front of the camera he donned zombie makeup.
Bill loved to go to conventions and pose with fans while in zombie makeup. In fact, that was how we first met Bill—when he tried to take a bite out of the chief. But her prowess at screaming and running in circles paid off, she was able to escape his grasp and then talk him into being a friend of the Zombie Survival Crew.
Born Samuel William Hinzman, October, 24 1936, Bill passed away February 4, 2012 at the age of 75 from that insidious beast—cancer. To see his accomplishments, check out his IMDB page. Perhaps the tweet from Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg puts it best:
Sad to hear Bill Hinzman, George Romero’s first zombie in NotLD passed away today. Even zombies die, legends however, do not. RIP Bill.
Rest in Peace, Bill. We, the Zombie Survival Crew, give you a 21—Crossbow salute!!
Suffice it to say, Spooky Empire’s May-Hem was chalk-full of strangeness for your ZSC commanders. Juliette covered some of it in her debriefing after the event. However while scouring her files for something we came across this, footage of actor Bill Hinzman.
That name not ring a bell? Then you haven’t been doing your research. Mr. Hinzman was the first zombie on screen in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. So… why was Juliette talking to a potentially compromised person? We aren’t sure, but he was nice enough to film this clip for us.
Command considers Bill Hinzman a friendly and we thank him for not munching on our fearless leader.
As a result of events at Spooky Empire, Zombie Survival Crew, we now have a new standard operating procedure for all future Cons. ZSC cadres are requested to check in with Command as early as possible to set parameters for Command protection and integrity for the duration of the event.
Let me tell you why….
It was apparent pretty early on that Spooky Empire May-Hem was going to live up to its name.
My eventually successful attempt to retrieve Light Blue Brigade Commander Anthony Guajardo and his mother Lisa from the airport involved about 35 minutes of driving around in circles – which, I have to say is vastly less exhausting than running around in circles, but still kind of crazy. Shortly after we got to the resort, Lisa crashed in my room. Within minutes? Anthony crashed. Shortly thereafter yours truly was dreaming about sugar plum fairies.
When we awoke – now hopelessly late for set up and early meetings – we immediately discussed the possibility that the Unnamed Government Agency had somehow infiltrated the event and put us all out for reasons we probably wouldn’t want to guess.
Set up involved a crazy mad dash into the celebrity signing room where we would spend the weekend recruiting new members as personalities from The Walking Dead, Boondock Saints, Night of the Living Dead and Evil Dead thrilled the fans.
ZSC loyalist @buttrscotchboom (a.k.a. Leigh-Anne) showed up shortly after the event opened and adopted a defensive position to assist Command. And she got there just in time – as I was soon to fall victim to a gruesome attack by Bill Hinzman, better known as Zombie #1 from George Romero’s masterpiece Night of the Living Dead. I did manage to escape with an assist from Leigh-Anne and Lisa only to discover that Anthony was passed out on the ZSC table. We revived him – debriefed around the assault that left him incapacitated – and proceeded to scour the room for potential UGA moles.
By the time Norman arrived on the scene we were in full defensive deployment mode. We – with our allies from the Dixon’s Vixens – informed Blue Brigade Commander of the multiple attempted attacks just as a predator drone strike took aim at Norman. He was able to escape but inadvertently left Rocco in the line of fire. We bobbed. We weaved. We even retreated at one point to try and regroup. The UGA was relentless. I left Rocco and Anthony with armed guards Leigh-Anne and Lisa and ventured – at 3 a.m. – to find us some food to keep up our strength.
The food resupply was just what we needed to help us strategize – we crafted code words, evac plans and communications to aid us in predator evasion and keeping Command intact for the weekend.
With that, we were ready to face the hordes. Or so we thought ….