Earlier today, Sunday, July 16th, George Romero died at the age of 77. According to the LA Times and Romero’s producing partner, Peter Grunwald, Romero passed away in his sleep after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer,” while listening to the soundtrack to 1952’s The Quiet Man, accompanied by his wife, Suzanna Desrocher Romero, and his daughter, Tina Romero.
George Romero is best known for his zombie movies, most notably Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Romero’s movies helped kick-start the zombie movie genre and made the creatures popular. Romero’s films have inspired numerous horror movies, such as Shaun of the Dead, and horror video games, including Resident Evil and Dead Rising, with the latter even taking place in a shopping mall, much like Dawn of the Dead. Romero inspiring the creation of the Resident Evil video game eventually came full circle when he penned an early draft for a Resident Evil movie in 1998.
While George Romero is synonymous with zombies movies, they are not his only foray into the horror movie genre, or even the entertainment industry. He created the horror anthology television series Tales from the Darkside, directed the horror anthology film Creepshow — written by famed horror-novelist Stephen King — and wrote films such as Knightriders and Monkey Shines. Romero has been nominated for and won numerous awards. He was nominated for a Saturn Award for directing The Dark Half and won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the 2002 New York City Horror film Festival. He has even had minor acting roles, including an FBI agent in The Silence of the Lambs, Don Adaded in the Phineas and Ferb episode “Night of the Living Pharmacists,” and himself in the Call of Duty: Black Ops zombie campaign “Call of the Dead.”
I cannot understate how much George Romero has affected the horror genre. Thanks to Romero’s zombies, modern media usually portrays the creatures as slow-moving monsters who overwhelm through sheer numbers and can only be killed by a shot to the head or decapitation. Furthermore, most zombie movies, games, shows, and books focus on the human element with survivors reverting to their baser instincts and being willing to backstab one another to survive. This overarching theme is often associated with Romero’s tendency to include social commentary in his films. As Romero stated in an interview with NPR, “All I did was took them out of ‘exotica’ and I made them the neighbors … I thought there’s nothing scarier than the neighbors!” When you think about it, he’s right; a shambling corpse that wants to eat you is far more terrifying when it wears the face of someone you know and care about.
We here at Geek Reply will miss George Romero. We wish his family the best in this trying time.