Elderly zombies still roam the earth…

Josephine Streiner, 92, is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She is also the oldest living ghoul from the 1968 horror classic "Night of the Living Dead."  "It was definitely one of the highlights of my life," says Mrs. Streiner, who lives in Pittsburgh and appeared in several scenes as short-haired ghoul, or zombie, walking in a nightgown with her arms outstretched.  Like many of the original zombies, now in their 70s and 80s, Mrs. Streiner never imagined that a few minutes on a grainy black-and-white film would, decades later, bring her requests for autographs and other trappings of near-celebrity. But that's show business.  To mark the film's 40th anniversary in 2008, she and the other zombies were invited to a Living Dead Festival in Evans City, Pa., where the movie was filmed, and met with fans from all over the country. It went so well, they gathered again last year. One loyal movie fan came from France.  Earlier this month at the Horror Realm convention here, which features horror-themed vendors and panel discussions, the zombies and other cast and production members had their own reception room.  "Night of the Living Dead" zombies reminisce about making George Romero's classic 1968 horror film.  Mrs. Streiner couldn't make it because her knees were bothering her. But Herbert Summer, 82, was there with his wife, Donna. It was his second convention this year, the first being the Famous Monsters Convention in Indianapolis.  Mr. Summer ran a men's clothing store around the corner from the studio used by the movie's now-celebrated director, George Romero. While eating a sandwich at a nearby deli, Mr. Summer was recruited to be a ghoul, as the living dead were originally called.  "Truthfully, I didn't know what a ghoul was," says Mr. Summer, who appeared in three scenes with a raccoon-like face and a bullet wound to his chest. He earned $25 and lasting notoriety.  Mr. Romero and nine friends pitched in $600 apiece, which was enough to buy film but little else. They used chocolate syrup for blood, sausage for intestines. A couple of friends in the fireworks business helped them blow up a truck. Major studios refused to distribute the film, saying it was disturbing and in passé black-and-white, according to people involved with the production.

Source:  Wall St. Journal (September 27, 2010)
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