RIP To George A. Romero, The Director Who Influenced Most Of The Zombie Movies You Love
Film director George A. Romero died on Sunday after battling lung cancer. He was 77.
If you’re not familiar with the work of Romero but love horror films and watch zombie shows, then it’s safe to say that you’ve experienced his unique vision.
One of his most famous films is the 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead.”
Back when the movie came out, critics didn’t praise the film. In fact, they wrote it off as silly. But as The New York Times reports, the movie “gained an audience at the late-night drive-in and grindhouse circuit.”
As time passed, the film was celebrated for its sharp social commentary.
George Romero made a film where the levelheaded Black hero survives zombies only to be killed by scared whites. Almost unfathomable in 1968.
— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) July 17, 2017
In interviews, Romero said the lead character, Ben, was not written as black. But Romero felt Duane Jones was the best actor for the role, which added an extra layer of social commentary to the film. Romero told NPR: “We never thought of it being a racial piece at all, never. We were talking much more about how people remain stuck on their own agendas even though there’s something extraordinary going on outside.”
In 1999, more than 30 years since the release of “Night of the Living Dead,” the movie was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Other prestigious films in that registry include Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest,” Robert Altman’s “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” and Elia Kazan’s “East of Eden.”
Romero was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1940 to a Cuban father and Lithuanian mother.
In 2008, Romero spoke to The New York Daily News about what it was like to grow up in the Bronx.
“But because of our name I was labeled a Latino and I was in an Italian neighborhood, so it was difficult but I still had good times.”
He also talked about wanting to visit Cuba, the homeland of his father.
“I think I can go back now. Living in Toronto, Canada, I think I can get down there. I’d really love to,” Romero said in 2008. “We went to Cuba right before Castro. [My father] still had his family there. We went a couple of times to visit his family in the summer time when I was off school. I was in my midteens.”
In the 1960s, Romero began his filmmaking career shortly after graduating from the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University.
His first film was a short titled “Expostulations” and was released in 1962. Six years later, he released his groundbreaking film “Night of the Living Dead.” Then came “Dawn of the Dead,” as well as “The Crazies and Martin.”
Romero also directed “Day of the Dead.”
His style of directing and fascination with zombies and the dead have inspired countless of shows and movies we have seen today.
Director Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver,” “Shawn of the Dead”) said all of his movies are inspired by Romero’s vision.
In a very touching post, Wright talked about how much he looked up to Romero and admired his work.
“I had been infatuated about George’s work before I saw it, scouring through horror and fantasy magazines for stills, posters, and articles way before I was old enough to see his movies,” Wright said. “Without George, at the very least, my career would have started very differently.”
Robert Kirkman, creator of “The Walking Dead,” also credited Romero with inspiring him to create the popular comic and TV series.
Without George A. Romero, there is no Walking Dead. His inspiration cannot be overstated. He started it all, so many others followed.
— Robert Kirkman (@RobertKirkman) July 17, 2017
Director Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen,” “Batman v Superman”) described Romero as a “master.”
— Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) July 17, 2017
And Jordan Peele, director of the popular horror film “Get Out,” also tipped his cap to Romero.
Romero started it. pic.twitter.com/i4dnxi8EFV
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) July 16, 2017