As I'm sure you've all heard by now, Bill Hinzman passed away on February 5th. He played the first zombie you see in the graveyard at the beginning of Night of the Living Dead. He didn't have much of an acting career, a couple of bit parts here and there, I believe he directed a few straight to video horror movies in the 80's. Despite his low profile he's become an iconic figure in arguably the most iconic horror movie of all time. I'm sure there have been some lovely obituaries on him on other movie blogs, this however is not one of them. Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl gave me a great idea. She posted about her first encounter with Bill Hinzman, and also mentioned how everyone has "a little Bill Hinzman at a convention story". She's so right! I'm guessing working the convention circuit is how he made his living for the last 15 or 20 years because if you went to ANY horror convention you'd be sure to see Bill there dressed as he was in the film sleazing around the joint talking to random people. Her story inspired me to post MY first Bill Hinzman encounter, and I think it was a pretty good one...
I was 19 and it was my first time at Screamfest, South Florida's regular horror con. I believe it was their second year doing it, when they were still in Ft. Lauderdale instead of Orlando where it's now held annually. I was gleaming with excitement like everyone is at their FIRST convention. He spotted me from across the path at started to act like a ...you know... zombie? Sort of reaching out, staggering and making hungry faces at me. I laughed of course. I did not recognize him, which is shameful because he basically looks EXACTLY the same. However, he's much older and so many people were in costume. It was all very hectic. He came over to me and started chatting, he explained who he was, I was embarrassed for not knowing. I still wanted his picture though and I stupidly asking him to "look like he was going to eat me"...famous last words, yeesh. He IMMEDIATELY stopped being playful-out-of-work-zombie Bill Hinzman to the completely-lecherous-dirty-old-man Bill Hinzman. He started making lots of "pussy eating" jokes and getting really close to me, breathing heavily, leering at my teenage flesh. I laughed it off of course but was getting to the point where I was ready to segway out of the conversation. As I'm slowly descending, he realizes I'm slipping away and throws out his ROOM NUMBER and the time he'll be there that night in case I want to drop by for a little felatio. NO JOKE. This was as sincere an offer as I've ever received. I had NO idea what to say, so I said nothing, and walked away. BUT before I was completely out of eye shot, I turn around to see him still leering only now he decides to shoot me the international cunnilingus hand gesture.... You know the one, the lewd V-shape with the tongue sign. For the rest of the day if I happened to see him around the hotel he'd give me the invasive suggestion. I DIED!
Of course I did not show up. I wondered what would happen if I ran into him the next day. There was some live music happening so we decided to go kill some time and watch these mediocre psychobilly bands play. We were also extremely hungry so my friend and I got some chili cheese fries to share. Out of nowhere we see Bill, he see's us. He begins to approach, I was nervous! Would he be mad? Would he continue to sexually harass me? Would I like it? When he arrived he started to make small talk about the music, he asked how we were doing and where we were from. I realized he did not recognize either of us from the day before. I laughed internally at the bizarre scenario, and offered him a fry. He accepted.
I saw him many times after that but was never propositioned again, but I always got the impression that he waits for young girls to inadvertantly invite such lascivious offers of carnal zombilingus.
That's my Hinzman convention story. It's a bit perverse but I hold it dear to my heart.
Cheers to Bill Hinzman!