We've found out where the cast members from classics such as Halloween, The Exorcist, and The Shining (yes, we even tracked down the infamous ax) currently are, and I think now, in celebration of its posthumous 40th birthday, it's time to take a gander at one of the most classic horror movies of all time...
George A. Romero's 1968 seminal zombie flick, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
First up, I think it's only fitting that we take a look at the first zombie to grace the screen in the flick, which also makes this man the first zombie (as we now know them today) ever on film!
Cemetery Zombie - William Hinzman
No no, he's not a zombie in real life. Ya see, it's hard to find a picture of Bill without his ghoul makeup because he tends to hold on to his former glory and he seems to be at all times dressed in full garb as if he's still back in 1968. And who knows, maybe he is. I don't judge. Because of the horror convention scene and how much us horror fans love all the actors who have ever appeared in our favorite flicks, no matter how big or tiny the part, many genre actors tend to hold on for dear life to their one role for as long as humanely possible, and Bill Hinzman is a standout case of such a thing. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, I actually think it's kinda ghoul. There's my inner Crypt Keeper coming out again. You'd be proud too if you were the first Romero zombie!
Post Night, Hinzman appeared in a few other B grade genre pictures (mostly as a zombie) such as Santa Claws, and 1988's FleshEater, which he also directed. Proving that he really can't let go of his former glory, Hinzman reprised his role from NOTLD for FleshEater. In fact, the title for the film was taken from the original NOTLD title, Night of the Flesheaters. There's a bit of trivia for ya. The latest films he appeared in were the Tony Todd starring Shadow : Dead Riot (as 'Romero The Zombie') and It Came From Trafalgar (again as Zombie #1), earlier this year.
The 72 year old Hinzman is currently playing the role of father as opposed to the role of zombie to his 30 year old actress daughter Heidi. He has no projects in the works but can currently be seeing touring the world at horror conventions dressed in full zombie costume and more than willing to mime biting your neck for a cool photograph!
Johnny - Russel Streiner
Steiner is primarily a producer who was cast in the film because Romero & Co. needed everyone they could get to act in it. He was good friends with George and, as i've read, one of the deals they made was that anyone who was throwing in money to help produce the flick also had to help out in making it either by acting or performing some other kind of service. As far as acting goes, Streiner appeared in another Romero movie, There's Always Vanilla, and a movie made by Bill Hinzman, The Majorettes. He returned to the NOTLD world in 1990 with a cameo apperance as a Sheriff in Tom Savini's remake, which he also executive produced. He is still producing movies and is currently working on the genre star studded Escape of the Living Dead, set to come out sometime next year. He currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the same place he was born, and has three children. You can still catch ole Russ at horror conventions around the globe and let me tell ya, he's a hell of a nice guy who will spend as much time as ya want yakking it up with you and sharing old stories.
Barbra - Judith O'Dea
Prior to NOTLD, O'Dea enjoyed wide acclaim all over the United States in stage presentations, which is the reason she was cast. For whatever reason, she hasn't gone on to much acting success and the role of Barbra is certaintly her most well known, and in fact one of her only, film roles. It was 10 years after Night before O'Dea worked again and almost 30 years after that before she appeared on screen again. Since 2003, she has appeared in a total of five films, none of which have achieved any success or have name recognition. She currently lives in Long Beach, California where she owns and operates O'Dea Communications, a firm which deals with oral communications training. Her career is expected to be resurrected when Rob Zombie casts her in his next feature film, although that's just my futuristic insight. Come on, Rob! Come to get Barbra!
Did you know?! In the original script, it was written that Barbra would survive! The temptation of having her own brother come back to life to kill her was just too strong and Romero & Co. opted for the more cynical ending!
Ben - Duane Jones
I didn't forget the after picture on this one. Sadly, in 1988, Duane Jones passed away from cardiopulmary arrest at the age of 52. Between Night and the time of his death 20 years later, Jones appeared in only seven other films, the last of which was the vampire flick To Die For, released posthumously in 1989. Up until his death, Jones claimed that he never watched any of the other Romero 'Dead' films, nor any other Romero flick for that matter. Despite his short career, Jones will go down in history as the first black actor to ever have a starring role in a horror film, paving the way for the many african american actors to come in his wake. According to 'The Complete Night of the Living Dead Filmbook' that was written in the late 80's by NOTLD writer John Russo, Jones was not hired because he was black, as many have believed. He was hired quite simply because he was the best actor who auditioned.
Harry Cooper - Karl Hardman
Aside from NOTLD (which he also co-produced), Hardman appeared in only one other film, 1996's Santa Claws, alongside his wife and the afformentioned Bill Hinzman. Sadly, Hardman has also since passed away. He succombed, after a long battle, to pancreatic cancer at the age of 80 in September of 2007. He's survived by his wife Marilyn and his daughter Kyra, who both appeared in NOTLD as his on screen wife and daughter. Which brings us to...
Karen Cooper - Kyra Schon
Hardman's daughter Kyra is perhaps the most iconic and recognizable thing from Night of the Living Dead and one the most iconic images from all of horror. Her face adorns t-shirts, posters, dvd's, and even tattoos all over the world. Much like Hinzman, the now 51 year old Schon continues to embrace the role that made her a household face. Night is the only acting credit to her name and she currently teaches art, creates her own jewelry, and designs greeting cards. She has her own website, titled The Ghoul Next Door, where you can find out about all her latest goings on.
And that about wraps her up! 40 years later, Night of the Living Dead continues to endure! If only we can get Romero to start making good movies again...
If there's any horror films you'd like to see get the 'Where Are They Now?' treatment in the future, leave a comment and let me know! If you ask for it, you'll probably get it!