I think it’s pretty safe to say that “The Walking Dead” wouldn’t be “The Walking Dead” without Greg Nicotero, a guy who was quite frankly born and bred to bring the zombies from Robert Kirkman’s comic series to life on the small screen.
Nicotero began his career as a special makeup effects artist, cutting his proverbial teeth on the sets of films like Day of the Dead and Evil Dead 2, and not only is he in charge of the zombie makeup on “The Walking Dead,” but he’s also become an executive producer and even occasional director of the show.
Nicotero has been given a lot of freedom when it comes to designing the walkers that Rick and the gang are perpetually on the run from, and he’s had a whole lot of fun with that freedom over the years. It’s not uncommon for him to throw in little Easter eggs for us horror fans, giving us quick glimpses of walkers that will undoubtedly look quite familiar to those who are big time horror fans, particularly of the zombie cinema that inspired guys like Robert Kirkman.
While there’s no room for cameos from recognizable stars on “The Walking Dead,” it is these blink and you’ll miss ‘em zombie cameos that serve as a fun little ‘Where’s Waldo?’ game for folks like ourselves. Today we take a look at a handful of them that have appeared on the show throughout the years, along with other references to our favorite horror flicks that Nicotero has thrown in!
The first of the undead Easter eggs was included in the very first season of the show, with this particularly gruesome Episode 4 zombie. Her lower jaw ripped off and her tongue hanging out, she’s one of the most memorable walkers in the show’s history and was a direct homage to the very first feature film that Greg Nicotero ever worked on: George Romero’s Day of the Dead. Nicotero was Tom Savini’s assistant on the film, and it was Savini’s Dr. Tongue creation that he paid tribute to with this horrific makeup design. Dr. Tongue is notable for being the first zombie seen in Day of the Dead.
In the fifth episode of the show’s third season, which Nicotero directed, he threw in a nice little reference to one of the most iconic zombies in horror history, from the original Dawn of the Dead. George Romero has stated in the past that the zombified version of Stephen ‘Flyboy’ Andrews is his favorite of any of the zombies he’s ever brought to the screen, and Nicotero included a dead ringer for Flyboy in the scene where Merle is forced to fight for his life in the Governor’s zombie fighting arena.