Interview with the Hare Krishna Zombie
Mike Christopher is best known for his character, the "Hare Krishna Zombie" in the 1978 George Romero classic "Dawn of the Dead."
- Thank you being our guest today Mike.
- Mike, tell us about how you became the Hare Krishna Zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”
I was one of 2 keyboard players in a space themed rock band called FLUID. We all had bald heads. We beamed on to the stage in a plexiglass tube and had geodesic structures hiding the keyboards. The Airport Zombie was the saxophone player.
We had done several soundtracks for the Lies Brothers and were actors in their films; Headprints and A Ride Thru The Fields. Lenny Lies was the machete zombie. Michael Lies was in the TV Studio during the opening of Dawn. I believe they got a band promo picture to George. He chose Paul Musser, the sax player for the airport zombie role and he wanted a unique zombie for the one who attacked Fran. I got a call one day asking if I would accept the role of a Hare Krishna Zombie.
- After 42 years ,How does it feel to be one of the most recognizable zombies in film history?
It is still hard to believe. I’ve had a great time traveling to various conventions across the USA, UK and Germany. The Action Figure and mask were quite a surprise well. Rarely, I get recognized on the street. I think it has happened about 3 times!
- How does it feel with just one role you have such a worldwide horror fanbase?
I only found out about the popularity of my character just before the 30th Anniversary convention circuit about the time my action figure come out.
I had no idea the film was so popular until about 2007. It was quite a shock.
My character had a dual effect on the audience; Some people were deathly afraid and others found it hilarious. It is interesting that I got 2 completely opposite reactions from the same scenes. Maybe that contributed to the popularity.
- After “Dawn of the Dead” you are nearly 30 years not acting. What have you done all these years?
Following the release of Dawn of the Dead I moved to Los Angeles to perform laser light shows followed by a few years building and testing synthesizers for Oberheim and Kurzweil. I colorized black and white movies for a while and then worked in video post production for 35mm film to digital transfers. Moving to Florida in 1996 to be closer to my family, I worked as a graphic artist before moving to central Florida where I am semi retired and compose in my home studio.
- Since 2008 you are back as actor. What brings you back in front of the camera?
While I was living in the Tampa Florida area, I got involved with a few film makers there. Since I moved to central Florida I haven’t had a new role in about 4 years.
- You still visit Conventions. How does it feel that fans still like to see you?
I am still going to a convention in Orlando Florida called Fantasm however the bottom has fallen out of the convention scene for me in the last 5 years. None of the Dawn Zombies have been invited to any of the major USA conventions for that long. Rumor has it George Romero’s convention agent has it in for us since we didn’t have speaking parts and weren’t professional actors. I brought this up to Galyen recently and she denied it. When I mentioned that I haven’t seen her at any Dawn reunion in over 4 years, she laughed sarcastically in my face and walked away saying it was just a rumor. But we haven’t been to any Dawn of the Dead reunion in 5 years so the rumor might be true.
- On IMDb we can see that you filming "Night of the Living Dead: Genesis". What can you tell us about the film and your role?
The movie revolves around the back story of what took place before the beginning of the original Night of the Living Dead story.
I play the director of a psychiatric institute who grants an interview to a female reporter played by Alexander Elliott. She was great to work with and I’m certain her role will come across quite well. Judith O’Dea figures prominently in the opening series of scenes as well. Telling you anything more would be a spoiler but I was completely captivated by reading the screenplay and had no hesitation accepting the role. Jim Krut is in it as well.
NOTLD Genesis is stuck in post production for some reason and I am hoping it will be coming out soon. I’m counting on you Matt Cloude!
- At the last you can say some words to your fans?
I wish I could tell each and every one of you how much it means to have such an incredible fan base this long after Dawn of the Dead came out.
I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for keeping this masterpiece alive. I personally believe this film is much more than a horror movie, as I see it as a type of prophecy. To me it represents the collapse of a thinking society which has devolved into chaos after being dumbed down to the point of losing what it means to be human. The virus often blamed for the infection is just a metaphor for a mental sickness which infects people causing them to lose common sense and become so lazy they can not think for themselves thus devolve to a state of anarchy.
I am currently planning on releasing new music this summer so look for me on ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Vimeo, my Facebook Hare Krishna Zombie and Joe Vampire fan pages and My Mike Christopher fb and twitter accounts.
ps: I had the lead role in an Ultra Low Budget film shot on DSLR in the Tampa Area called Joe Vampire. Unfortunately, the producer ruined it in post. He cut out 30 minutes, failed to add a few more kill scenes and special effects that were needed, didn’t allow me to write the sound track and instead, ran off with the project. It doesn’t compare the the 90 minute rough cut. I cobbled together a 10 minute clip on Vimeo using a few of the opening scenes and you can see it on my Vimeo account. That represents what I had in mind for the musical direction. If you watch Joe Vampire … don’t say I didn’t warn you : ) … it is not so good I hate to say.
- Thank you Mike Christopher for your time and I hope to see you soon in Germany at an Convention.