It was sometime in June 1982 and I had just finished my sophomore year in high school. A number of classmates and I were headed out to the Neptune Theater in Seattle’s University District to see a double bill of Eraserhead and Night of the Living Dead. I was less interested in Eraserhead than I was in Night of the Living Dead. I’d heard that Night of the Living Dead had zombies in it and the zombies ate people. To my fifteen year old mind, what could possibly be cooler?
It is important to note that due to its location near the University of Washington that the Neptune Theater was known for drawing young and rowdy crowds. It really was the perfect place to see a zombie movie.
As the movie opened and we got to the infamous scene where Johnny and Barbra are in the graveyard and Johnny speaks the words “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!” Off in the distance we see a man walking and as he gets closer we notice something just doesn’t seem right about him. Then he attacks Barbra and Johnny comes to the rescue only to have his head bashed onto a gravestone. At the moment Johnny’s head hit the stone, the entire theater erupted cheering on the zombie as he turned his attention to the screaming and fleeing Barbra. It was my first real zombie attack and I was hooked.
The zombie in that scene was played by Bill Hinzman who passed away this last Sunday at the age of 75.
Hinzman went on to work in other films, acting as well as directing, but he will always be remembered for being in one of the seminal zombie movie sequences of all time.
Thanks for being in the right place at the right time Mr. Hinzman.