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George A. Romero, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Director, Dies at 77

Variety – by Pat Saperstein

George A. Romero, who launched the zombie film genre with his 1968 “Night of the Living Dead,” died on Sunday, Variety has confirmed. He was 77.

The director died in his sleep following a battle with lung cancer, according to a statement from his manager Chris Roe.  

Land-Of-The-Dead-George Romero“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,” the statement said. “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.”

Made in Pittsburgh on a budget of $114,000, “Night of the Living Dead” made $30 million and became a cult classic. Romero’s friends and associates in his Image Ten production company pooled their funds to make the film. Influenced by Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend,” the black and white film about a group of people trapped in a Pennsylvania farmhouse who fall prey to a horde of the undead was said to be a critique of capitalism during the counter-culture era.

After “Night of the Living Dead,” he directed films including “There’s Always Vanilla,” “Season of the Witch,” and “The Crazies,” although none had the impact of his first film. His 1977 vampire arthouse pic “Martin” was somewhat more well-received.

He went back to zombies with “Dawn of the Dead,” which made more than $55 million on a half a million dollar budget, then made his third Dead movie with “Day of the Dead” in 1985.

His non-zombie films of that period gained more attention, including “Knightridgers” about jousters who re-enact tournaments on motorcycles and the anthology “Creepshow” written by Stephen King.

Among his other films from the 1980s and 1990s were “Monkey Shines,” Edgar Allen Poe adaptation “Two Evil Eyes,” in collaboration with Dario Argento, “The Dark Half’ and “Bruiser.”

He exec produced and updated his own screenplay for Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of “Night of the Living Dead.” He made a cameo appearance in “The Silence of the Lambs.” Romero was originally set to direct “Resident Evil,” but left the project due to creative differences.

His fourth Dead movie “Land of the Dead” was made in Toronto in 2005, starring Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento and John Leguizamo.

He followed that with “Diary of the Dead” in 2008 and “Survival of the Dead” in 2010. He also worked on video games and wrote comic books.

Born in the Bronx, Romero’s father was Cuban and his mother Lithuanian. He graduated Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, then began shooting shorts and commercials, including a segment of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.”

He is survived by his wife Suzanne and two children.

George A. Romero, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Director, Dies at 77

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5 Responses to George A. Romero, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Director, Dies at 77

  1. BMF says:

    I never knew much about the guy himself, but his movies were great. R.I.P.

  2. Bob from Wisconsin says:

    George Romero was a true visionary.
    In 1968 he foresaw what the average American would become by the turn of the century.
    University students attacking and devouring anyone, believing different than themselves.
    Senseless roaming masses of dysfunctional, brainless protoplasm.
    Ever looking for their degree and some fresh meat.

  3. Ed Teach says:

    The movies will stand the test of time despite the low budget and being predominantly filmed in Pittsburgh.
    His short stories/ novellas are forever classics. This man was ahead of his time addressing race, gender, and societal acceptance. He was one of the first to show a woman that could out perform a man under life changing stress. He truly understood how an “apocalypse” would play out on a personal level.

    RIP
    Ps good job getting the death while sleeping. nice. Didnt need lung cancer though.

  4. flee says:

    I guess this means we won’t see night of the living dead 3.
    I’m crushed

    But we still have the day of the living dead.

    Just look around you next time you shop at Wal-Mart.

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