Apocalypse Now

Grapevine Communications' Robert Holzer is the Ultimate Zombie Fan

Holzer is a zombie super-fan.

By Ilene Denton November 16, 2016 Published in the November-December 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Image: Barbara Banks

Robert Holzer’s pop-culture moment has arrived. Holzer, webmaster at Grapevine Communications since 2013, has been a super-fan of zombies since he discovered horror films in junior high. Now with the popularity of zombie-themed TV shows and films, it’s “our No. 1 pop-culture nightmare,” according to Rolling Stone.

“When I first watched horror movies in the 1980s, there was a lot of slash and gore, but I noticed in the zombie movies there is a lot more suspense, and they were more intellectual and a political subtext to it,” says Holzer.

A New College grad who learned to work on computers while serving in the Army, he started the website, ZombieMenace.com, in 2009 and grew it into one of the most popular websites for everything zombie-related: an event calendar (a trusted source for details on zombie walks and pub crawls); an online seller of costumes, movies, books and toys; and a one-stop site for zombie-themed video games that users could play for free. “Our discussion forum at its peak had 18,000 participants,” he says. ZombieMenace.com was so popular that Sony Pictures hired him to help promote its 2012 film, Zombieland. He shut down the website last year. “With a full-time job and two kids, it became an issue of not having enough time to manage it,” he says.

Now, he makes do with “what I affectionately call my creepy toy collection; not just zombies, but things like my 12-inch Alien doll and my Walking Dead and Twisted Land of Oz special collections,” he says. “I have boxes upon boxes of stuff.” Holzer moved the collection from his house to his office “when we had kids. My wife said, ‘I don’t want them looking at this stuff.’”

And in 2014, when Grapevine Communications sponsored a Christmas card Facebook contest (the public vote on which staff-created holiday card was the coolest, with proceeds benefiting area charities), he was, yes, Zombie Santa.

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