“The Walking Dead” is not a show to thrive on celebrity guests. Aside from Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and F/X god Greg Nicotero (who works on the show anyway), there have been no celebrity zombie appearances. But there have been plenty of zombie tributes.
Dynamo writer John Squires recently compiled a list of zombie “cameos” from “The Walking Dead.” The list consists of zombies on the show designed to look like (in)famous zombies from films past, and we’ll review them here.
If you’ve noticed any that may been have missed, please feel free to add them in the comments section below.
Season 1, Episode 4 – Day of the Dead – Doctor Tongue
Dr. Tongue from Day of the Dead was the first zombie seen in the film, which was Greg Nicotero’s first feature. He worked as an assistant to Tom Savini, and Dr. Tongue was just the first of many nightmares contained in this masterpiece. In Season 1, Episode 4, “The Walking Dead” did an homage to Dr. Tongue with one of the most memorable zombies in the series. Used in various promotional materials, this zombie has her bottom jaw ripped off and tongue lolling out, just like the nefarious Dr. Tongue. Dig the similarities below.
Season 3, Episode 5 – Dawn of the Dead – Flyboy
An icon from one of the greatest zombie films of all time, Day of the Dead, is Stephen “Flyboy” Andrews (played by David Emge). In Season 3, Episode 5, Nicotero and crew created a spot-on recreation of Flyboy with a zombie seen when Merle is forced to fight for his life in The Governor’s zombie battle ring.
Season 3, Episode 5 – Jaws – Ben Gardner’s Head
Obviously, Season 3, Episode 5 was the place to be for tributes to the past. In the final scene we get a look at one of the most disturbing things we’ve yet seen on “The Walking Dead,” that being The Governor’s fish tanks full of severed heads. One of those heads just happens to be made to look like Ben Gardner’s head (played pre-severing by Craig Kingsbury) from Jaws. Although technically not a zombie, it does reappear after Ben’s death, last seen coming out of the hull of a sunken ship.
Season 3, Episode 15 – Dawn of the Dead – Plaid Shirt Zombie
When Merle cranked up the radio in his car in an attempt to attract zombies to help attack The Governor and his men, one of the shuffling crew was none other than a damn-near spot-on recreation of the Plaid Shirt Zombie, well known from the deserted airplane hangar in Dawn of the Dead.
Season 4, Episode 8 – Lucio Fulci’s Zombie – Maggot-Eyed Zombie
Season 4’s mid-season finale was one of the most epic episodes of “The Walking Dead” that we’ve seen yet. One of the more important moments was young Meghan, whom The Governor had begun to think of as an adopted daughter, getting bit by a zombie who emerges from a muddy tomb. Although your first thoughts might go to Tarman from Return of the Living Dead when seeing this undead beastie, it is in fact a tribute to Lucio Fulci’s trademark zombie from his aptly named film Zombie. Any horror fan worth his or her salt is certainly familiar with this undead monster with the maggot-filled eye.
Season 4, Episode 9 – An American Werewolf in London – Jack Goodman
The final zombie tribute we’ve found so far was in the first episode of the second half of Season 4. While Michonne is walking amongst the zombie horde, deliberating whether life is worth living or not, we get an oh so brief glance at a walker with a head far more decayed than any of the others. This was without a doubt a tribute to legendary F/X artist Rick Baker and his work on An American Werewolf in London and the scene where Jack Goodman’s “ghost” appears in a nearly fully decomposed state. The zombie in “The Walking Dead” was done as an amazing tribute to Baker’s work.
Have you seen any more familiar looking walkers? Again, drop a line in the comments section below.
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