“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 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.
[Ella Mae Smith], 78, & her husband, Phil, who has since died, were drinking iced tea in their front yard when someone from the movie asked if they wanted to be ghouls. Phil said ‘No.’ Ella Mae said ‘Yes,’ & later persuaded her husband to join her.
The movie became a special part of their family. Her youngest daughter, Lois, wrote a report on it, taping photos of her parents sitting at a kitchen table, having blood applied to their face. She got an A, Mrs. Smith says.
Mrs. Smith still has a poem she wrote in 1968 in honor of the film, called Our Movie.
We will always remember and never regret,
No matter how old and feeble we get.
The time we spent acting like silly old fools,
and got in the movies, resembling two ghouls.
-“Elderly Zombies Win the Undying Loyalty of Their Fans”, Wall Street Journal
Ricardo Cortez in production still from D.W. Griffith’s Faustian tale The Sorrows of Satan (1926), based on Marie Corelli’s 1895 novel of the same name.
Matters about the idea of the end of the world seems to always bring to my mind the one thing that ever stayed with me when our favorite world mythologist, Joseph Campbell, once said that the end of the world should not be thought of as an event to come and referred to it as the annihilation of an old way of living in the world. “It is an event of psychological transformation, of visionary transformation. You see not the world of solid things but a world of radiance,” Campbell said.
While not as conclusive to Campbell’s interpretation, Melancholia does serve up a nice picturesque dichotomy between two opposing effects of imposing doom on the human psyche. There was a sense of weight, a sense of burden, and a sense of relief all in one fell swoop of a scene and it was magnificent.
“I’m trudging through this grey wooly yarn, it’s clinging to my legs; it’s really heavy to drag along.”
but I smile, and I smile and I smile…