The Walking Dead introduces a junkyard community known as the Scavengers AKA Heapsters in “New Best Friends.” Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is forced to fight a menacing zombie named Winslow to prove himself a worthy ally.
“It’s a great sequence,” Lincoln said on Talking Dead. “It reminds me of Star Wars. It’s when he get thrown in with that crazy beast. In the same sort of tone as Mad Max and Star Trek.”
Host Chris Hardwick insisted Lincoln was referring to Jabba the Hutt’s pet Rancor in Return of the Jedi. Some fans argued in favor of the Dianoga tentacle monster in the garbage compactor scene in A New Hope. However, Trekkies know the large lumbering beast is clearly a reference to the Gorn that fights Captain Kirk in the classic Star Trek episode “Arena.”
In both matches the men are unarmed and forced to use their environments. Kirk fashions a Flintstones bazooka. Rick brings down the walls on his foe, which in fairness is not unlike Luke bringing the gate down on the Rancor. Each champion grabs a sharp object to fish finish off his defeated opponent but Kirk shows mercy. And at end of each fight their captors are seen looking down from above.
The name Winslow was surely another reference to the epic slow fight with the Gorn portray by stuntman Bobby Clark.
“Because the costume was thick rubber, it had big muscles – you couldn’t bend your arms.” Clark explained in SFX magazine. “You couldn’t walk fast because the feet would hold you back. You couldn’t run, because you’d be walking like you had two swimming fins on your feet. And we were walking in brush a lot, so that was tough… [The producers have] said several times that, in their estimation, it was the slowest fight they’d ever seen. Well, yes, it was slow. If it was fast, it would’ve been the funniest fight they’d ever seen.”
Winslow was nearly as encumbered with a full body prosthetic from the waist up. It took nearly 4 weeks to complete according to executive producer Greg Nicotero. Makeup artist and reluctant stuntman Gino Crognale had to wear a cool suit circulating water underneath the costume to beat the summer heat. You likely won’t be afforded the same creature comforts should you win a walk-on role as a zombie in the Walking Dead Play Dead sweepstakes.
Heavy metal zombie
Winslow AKA Installation Walker was modeled on concept art by John Wheaton of KNB EFX. His appearance is befitting a gladiator in the Thunderdome. He dons a Master Blaster helmet covered in sharp objects similar to the Mad Max vehicles.
“The helmet is supposed to be mirror after an old motorcycle gas tank,” explained Nicotero. “There’s some scissors, knife blades and sharpened rebar.”
Winslow may have lost the fight but he won over the cast.
“It got a round of applause from the set,” Lincoln told TV Guide. “Gino [Crognale], who’s one of the best makeup guys in the business, he’s been working on the show since day one, he had to get into the suit, bless him, and he spent a full day getting beaten up and decapitated by me. It takes a certain kind of man to be able to put up with that pain. And Gino was the go-to guy. He’s brilliant. And he got a round from the whole crew when we saw that beautiful makeup.”
The Walking Dead airs Sunday 9PM on AMC