Mike Christopher is known best for his role of the Hare Krishna Zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”. Mike’s character in that film is one of the most well known zombies ever in films. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Mike about his role and what he is currently working on.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you became the Hare Krishna Zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”
Mike Christopher: I was playing in a rock band “FLUID” at the time and Mickey Lies (the Machete Zombie’s brother) gave our picture to Romero. The “FLUID” band performed a space themed theatrical show with our music and we all had bald heads. The Sax player, John Paul Musser got the role as the Plaid Shirt/ Airport Zombie. George came up with the idea to have a Hare Krishna for diversity. It was a great role and I just got lucky I guess. Having the bald head was the ticket to play one of those pesky Krishna guyz.
MG: How does it feel to be one of the most recognizable zombies in film history?
MC: It’s actually kind of scary. I think about all these thousands of people who were actually afraid to sleep on the 3rd floor of their parent’s house because of me. I still scare a few people at the conventions. Just last weekend at Saturday Nightmares I noticed a gal laughing hysterically pointing at me. (I was ‘in character’) I got up and started to shamble towards her. She screamed and ran so I began to follow her. She kept running and screaming. I believe she was genuinely terrified.
MG: After “Dawn of the Dead”, you didn’t act again till a few years ago, why was that?
MC: I moved to Los Angeles and performed laser light shows for Laserium and Laser Media. I also made synthesizers and drum machines for Oberheim in Santa Monica, colorized Black and White Movies for Color Systems Technology who was colorizing some of the Turner Library. I also worked in video post for a while before moving to Florida in ’96 and became a Graphic Artist. It wasn’t until after I lost my job in Graphics that I learned of the conventions, then my action figure came out and I started getting roles in indy films when I started networking on mySpace and the Florida film scene.
MG: Any neat behind the scenes stories that you were saving up for this interview?
MC: The best one is when I surprised George Romero at HorrorFind in 2008. I waited in line and he looked up at me, read my badge and said “Mike, you look kinda familliar.” I had a pre signed action figure which I set down on the table in front of him and he looked back up at me saying “You’re the GUY . . . I DON’T FUCKIN’ BELIEVE IT! He stood up and grabbed me in a bear hug and apologized for not recognizing me. “George, it’s been 30 years I said.” I wish I had a movie of THAT!
MG: How can you reflect that with just one role you have such a loyal horror fanbase?
MC: I owe it all to the genius that is George Romero . . . they are actually fans of George’s Hare Krishna character, I just brought the zombie to life or something.
MG: What do you like most about going to horror conventions and meeting fans?
MC: Meeting the fans IS the best part. Musicians don’t get to meet their fans, most other celebs do not get to meet the fans either. I remember a guy telling me he totaled his car on the way to FearFest 2 after hitting a piece of black ice. He was so proud that he still was able to make it. “Dawn Of The Dead” fans are tops. . . I get to hold their children and get my picture in the family album for cryin’ out loud! I remember this guy saying “I can’t believe it’s 3 am and I’m talking to the Hare Krishna Zombie in a hotel hallway.” You can’t put a price on special moments like that.
MG: You recently composed a score for a movie, “Bikini Monsters”, any future plans?
MC: I actually played the role of Captain Nicholson in Bikini Monsters as well as composing music for it. My ghoulfriend Shade Burnett and Richard ‘Spaceape’ Kaltenbock also created music tracks. Spaceape and I played in a band together in the early 70′s which was actually the first incarnation of the bald space band in Pittsburgh.
MG: What other projects do you have planned upcoming?
MC: I’ll be working with Shade on her horror interview show “These Ghoulish Things Remind Me Of You.” and composing more music. No definite new film plans as of yet, just a few possibilities floating around.