George A. Romero 1940-2017

In the clip above from 2012, a very genial George A. Romero talks about his career and his great breakthrough, Night of the Living Dead (1968). Romero died yesterday at the age of 77 and was instantly hailed as a master of horror cinema and the godfather of zombie films.

Born in New York City, Romero shot commercials and shorts before making Night of the Living Dead, which became a cult phenomenon. Due to a mistake, Romero lost the copyright and the chance to make millions of dollars… but he wouldn’t repeat the same mistake. That movie was followed by several sequels and Romero remained faithful to the idea of the undead in his movies. Night of the Living Dead was shot in Pittsburgh, where Romero was a college student, and the city has honored the director over many years with an annual zombie fest.

Fans keep arguing over which Dead movie is the best, but my favorite remains Dawn of the Dead (1978), which not only was a terrific horror movie that took great advantage of its zombies but also a particularly effective example of Romero’s interest in politics and satire. He certainly got his critique of modern society across in that film.

Romero also gained attention for the vampire film Martin (1978), where he worked with special-effects whiz Tom Savini, and the horror anthology Creepshow (1982). At the time of his death, Romero was reportedly working on another zombie movie, this one putting the undead behind the wheels of fast cars!

Never a fan of The Walking Dead or World War Z (2013), Romero didn’t seem to enjoy being challenged by other filmmakers when it came to zombie movies. But they remain forever indebted to him. Many prominent Hollywood figures expressed their grief yesterday, including Stephen King and Guillermo del Toro:

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