PITTSBURGH MADE: Flesheater (1988)

Pittsburgh — well, Coraopolis — born Bill Hinzman is probably most famous for being the first zombie that shows up to attack Johnny and Barbara in Night of the Living Dead. His film career has him show up in some other Romero films — he’s a drunk in There’s Always Vanilla, the burglar in Season of the Witch, a crazie in The Crazies, an archer in Knightriders — as well as the zombie movie Legion of the Night, John Russo’s Santa Claws and appearing in and directing the Russo-written The Majorettes.

He also worked behind the camera, serving as the director of photography for The Crazies and cinematographer for The Amusement ParkDrive-In Madness!, Santa Claws and working on the cash-in Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary Edition.

Yet he’d always be that zombie, even showing up in a TV commercial for Goodfellows Brick Oven Pizza as that character. So twenty years after the first time he crawled out of a grave, Hinzman directed, wrote, produced and edited this film which as goes by the names Zombie Nosh and Revenge of the Living Zombies.

I always got the feeling that Hinzman and Russo made these movies to get out of the house, maybe make a little bit of money and maybe either see naked young women or get to bite them as a zombie, in Hinzman’s case.

Actually, what’s funny is that Bill’s wife Bonnie and his daughter Heidi didn’t just let him out of the house, they were involved in the film, appear in it and it’s still filled with this much sleaze! I mean, he even bites his own daughter and she turns into a zombie wearing an angel costume.

This is seriously even more Western Pennsylvania feeling than Romero’s films, a movie that has so much flannel, a hayride at the center of the storyline, people gathering at farms, furtive sex in the woods, big hair and bare breasts at the same time, a cast of twentysomething teenage characters who are all petty lame and die just as fast as you want them to and a farm that has a grave with a sign that literally says don’t break the seal and dumb kids drunk enough to do it and see what happens because nothing ever happens here anyway.

If you’re the kind of person that knows that the title of this comes from the original name for the 1968 classic — Night of the Flesheaters — or if you’re from Western Pennsylvania or even better, you’re excited that Vincent D. Survinski plays the same role he did in Night, this movie is for you. It’s beyond low budget, with real animal guts — Hinzman bit into a pig heart thinking it was a prop — and actual real human heart. The first time I saw it, I thought it was the dumbest movie I’d ever seen and while I probably wasn’t wrong, I have a place in my own heart for it.

You can get it from Vinegar Syndrome or watch it on Tubi.

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