George A. Romero, Father of the Zombie Film, Dies at 77

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George A. Romero, the legendary writer-director from Pittsburgh who made the 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead for $114,000, thus spawning an unrelenting parade of zombie movies and TV shows, has died. He was 77.

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Romero, who put out five other zombie movies after a copyright blunder cost him millions of dollars in profits on his wildly popular first one, died Sunday of lung cancer, his producing partner, Peter Grunwald, told the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the news. Romero’s family confirmed his death to the newspaper as well.

 

Romero’s manager, Chris Roe stated that the director died while “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 1978 sequel Dawn of the Dead was made for $1.5 million and grossed $55 million. He followed that by writing and directing Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007) and Survival of the Dead (2009), a decomposing body of work that earned him the nickname Father of the Zombie Film.

 

Romero also penned a new version of Night of the Living Dead, released in 1990, that was directed by Tom Savini, his longtime collaborator and horror effects guru. (And Dawn of the Dead was remade by Zack Snyder in 2004.)

 

Romero’s other work included Knightriders (1981), a mayhem movie with combatants jousting on motorcycles; Creepshow (1982), modeled after horror comics and scripted by Stephen King; Monkey Shines (1988), a psychological thriller revolving around a killer simian; The Dark Half (1993), where a writer’s alter ego aims to take over; and Bruiser (2000), about a man who finds his face transformed into a blank mask.

 

Romero also wrote  comic books with the limited Marvel series Empire of the Dead.

 

Glimpses of the man himself can be seen in many of his films, and he had a cameo as an FBI agent in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

 

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP; IMDB
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