George A. Romero.

Acclaimed director, writer, and editor George A. Romero, has passed away at 77 after battling lung cancer. Romero was best known for helming iconic horror films like 1968’s Night of the Living Dead and 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, and popularizing zombies in modern-day film.

Romero is among the faces on horror film’s Mount Rushmore. His debut film, Night of the Living Dead, was a violent, controversial release, but managed to gross $30 million against a $114,000 budget. The Living Dead series is among the greatest horror movie collections.

The Canadian-born director wasn’t a one trick pony either, as he’s made cult-classics The Crazies, Creepshow and Season of the Witch among many others. Romero also made movies outside the horror genre including 1971’s romantic comedy There’s Always Vanilla, and 1981’s Ed Harris-starring motorcycle jousting drama Knightriders. (It doesn’t have a talking car; that would be 1982 series Knight Rider.)

Just as important as his work was Romero’s influence on the horror genre. He’s influenced many modern day horror and zombie films and television. Despite his disdain for the series, Romero was said to be a key influence of Robert Kirkman’s mega-popular zombie comic book/TV drama The Walking Dead.

Shawn of the Dead director Edgar Wright (somewhat obviously) discussed Romero being the biggest influence on the cult-Zombie satire classic. He discussed getting a blessing from Romero when celebrating him back in May at the Hero Complex Film Festival.

“George watched it and we got a call from him later than night and he couldn’t have been sweeter about it,” Wright said.

And when presenting Romero with the Mastermind Award at Spike TV’s Scream 2009, Quentin Tarantino said the “A” in Romero’s name stood for “A fucking genius.”

Universally influential to modern horror directors, Romero unquestionably shaped the genre to how it’s played out over the last fifty years. So much, in fact, Romero’s work is still being remade to this day, with the most popular being 2004’s Dawn of the Dead remake by Zack Snyder – which was a critical and financial hit. Other remakes include 1990’s Night of the Living Dead, 2008’s Day of the Dead and 2010’s remake of The Crazies. 

Romero also published the DC Comics series Toe Tags and the Marvel miniseries Empire of the Dead. And he lent his voice and his camera to video games (and promotional material) for Resident Evil 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Zombie Squash. His last directed film was 2009’s Survival of the Dead, which was the sixth film in the series that launched his career.

Romero was married three times. He is survived by wife Suzanne Desrocher Romero and children George, Andrew, and Tina.

Even though Romero is no longer with us, his work will forever hold importance, and he’ll be remembered as a key figure in modern horror.

[The Los Angeles Times]

About Liam McGuire

Social +Staff writer for The Comeback & Awful Announcing.