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Helicopter zombie from Dawn of the Dead maintains a cult following

Posted by GoreMaster Special Effects on September 8, 2009

Actor Jim Krut, The Helecopter Zombie from Dawn of the Dead. photo by CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News

Actor Jim Krut, The Helecopter Zombie from Dawn of the Dead. photo by CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News

by T.W. BURGER, Of The Patriot-News

Sometimes, Jim Krut gets paid to be dead. For roughly the past three decades, Krut has been a more-or-less mild-mannered newspaper and magazine editor and a vice president at Adams Electric Cooperative.

Jim Krut as the Helecopter Zombie

Jim Krut as the Helecopter Zombie

But from time to time, he’s been one of the undead. And, it’s a hoot, he says. It all started when Krut, of Gettysburg, had a bit part in a gory zombie movie, “Dawn of the Dead.” The film was released in 1978, and is considered a classic in the genre.

At the time, Krut, now 63, was living in Pittsburgh and working as an actor with The Ironclad Agreement repertory theater company. He ended up being what is now known as the “helicopter zombie” in Director George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead.”

If you don’t know the story of Romero’s zombie saga, it goes something like this: The dead come back to life and lurch around the landscape, devouring their victims. Those who are not devoured but only bitten die and become zombies themselves. The films focus on small bands of the living trying to fight their way to safety. The zombies can only be killed by severe trauma to the head or by fire. There is an extravagance of gore, grunting zombies and screaming victims.

Krut’s role in “Dawn” was simple. As a zombie at an airfield, he tries to attack one of the film’s characters who is fueling a helicopter. Krut’s character — who has no name — climbs a wooden crate to reach his intended victim, but gets his head too close to the whirling ‘copter rotor, loses the top part of his head and falls down dead again. Really, really dead this time.

Three decades later, Krut finds himself sort of a cult figure himself. “I’ve done a lot of film conventions over the past 10 years,” he said. “Some actors look on that sort of thing as a job, but not me. I’m still a kid in terms of being a fan of movies,” he said. In addition to the notoriety, his exposure in “Dawn” led him to other small roles, mostly in more zombie films.

People come up and ask for autographs. Kids want to sit in his lap and get their photos taken. Sometimes, it’s a little weirder. “It’s a little unsettling to have somebody come up to you and they’ve got your face tattooed on their arm,” Krut said.

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One Response to “Helicopter zombie from Dawn of the Dead maintains a cult following”

  1. Love it that that’s that guy’s claim to fame.

    Wow. Who knew you could use “that” three times in a row and be grammatically correct.

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