Night of the Living Dead’s ‘first zombie’ Bill Hinzman dies

Yahoo UK Movies News7 February 2012

Actor Bill Hinzman, a horror legend for playing the first zombie seen in ‘Night of the Living Dead’, has died aged 75.

Hinzman became a cult star for playing 'Cemetery Zombie' in George Romero’s 1968 classic, but started out as a filmmaker.

He was working as an assistant cameraman on the movie, when the director asked him to play a zombie in the opening scene.

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Hinzman’s flesh eater famously attacks two siblings in a graveyard, played by Judith O’Dea and Russell Streiner.

‘Night of the Living Dead’ is a stone-cold classic – a low budget but utterly terrifying film that revolutionized the zombie genre.

Hinzman’s shuffling monster was arguably the first modern zombie we’ve seen onscreen, as the film introduced the idea of zombies as re-animated flesh-eaters.

The film features on many ‘Best movies of all time’ lists, and has been interpreted as a metaphor for the Vietnam War. It spawned several sequels including ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and ‘Day of the Dead’.

Hinzman died after a long battle with cancer, according to horror site Dread Central.

His daughter Heidi Hinzman said he asked to be cremated because, “he always joked if he got buried he would come back”.

Hinzman worked with Romero on several other projects, including ‘There's Always Vanilla’ and ‘The Crazies’. He also directed two films of his own – ‘The Majorettes’ and cult classic ‘Flesh Eater’.

Dread Central said he was a regular on the convention circuit and will be missed by horror fans, who called him 'No.1 Zombie'.

'Hot Fuzz' star Simon Pegg paid tribute to the actor on Twitter. "Sad to hear Bill Hinzman, George Romero's first zombie in NotLD passed away today. Even zombies die, legends however, do not. RIP Bill."

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