Truly heartbreaking news as the progenitor of the modern zombie film, George A. Romero has passed away at the age of 77. Romero died yesterday after a short battle with lung cancer.
His death was confirmed by his manager Chris Roe, who released the following statement on behalf of the family:
“Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero passed away on Sunday July 16, listening to the score of ‘The Quiet Man,’ one of his all-time favorite films, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero at his side. He died peacefully in his sleep, following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer, and leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time.”
Romero’s 1968 classic Night Of The Living Dead totally changed the landscape of horror in a way that can’t even be measured. The Pittsburgh native’s low-budget, black and white film went from cult favorite to blockbuster franchise with Romero’s 1978 sequel Dawn of the Dead, 1985’s Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007) and finally 2009’s Survival of the Dead. His take on the vampire genre, Martin, was released in 1978, and he wrote the 1990 Night remake, directed by Tom Savini.
As a producer, Romero delivered TV’s seminal 1980s horror anthology Tales From the Dark Side.
“Hard to quantify how much he inspired me & what he did for cinema,” tweeted Hostel director Eli Roth.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 1960, Romero started a small commercial production company before undertaking his 1968 $114,000 midnight movie groundbreaker, a film that not only set zombie genre rules that survive today with The Walking Dead, but also was hailed for its casting of African-American actor Duane Jones in a heroic role.
Other Romero directing credits include Creepshow (1982), Monkey Shines (1988), The Dark Half (1993), and Bruiser (2000).
But it was Night of the Living Dead that changed the horror game, with its slow-moving, gut-chomping zombies terrorizing a disparate group of survivors gathered in a remote Pennsylvania farmhouse. Surprise deaths, racial undertones, anti-establishment fervor and a stylish, gory-for-the-time relentlessness revolutionized the B-movie genre, taking it from drive-in theaters to shopping mall cineplexes – the very places he satirized with savage glee in 1978’s Dawn of the Dead.
Romero was one of the kindest and soft spoken filmmakers working in the genre today. This reporter had met Romero several years ago at a horror convention and it was one of the greatest honors of my life to meet my true hero of horror movies. He loved his fans and was more accommodating to them than anyone I’ve ever seen. He was modest about his contribution to horror films and usually shied away from his accomplishments.
All of us here at Horror Patch are devastated at Romero’s passing and would like to offer our most sincere condolences to George A. Romero’s family and friends during this most difficult time. George’s impact on horror is immeasurable and he totally created the zombie sub-genre which will persevere forever in cinema history.