Horror Legends Pay Tribute to the Late George Romero

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George Romero, the visionary director whose films took zombie fiction out of the fringes and into the mainstream, died Sunday at the age of 77.

A statement to Variety from Romero’s manager paints the scene:

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.

As news of Romero’s death started spreading Sunday evening, other legends of the horror genre paid their respects. Author Stephen King who worked with Romero on the 1982 black comedy horror anthology Creepshow wrote:

And Guillermo Del Toro whose creepy, atmospheric films like Crimson Peak and Pan’s Labyrinth were influenced by Romero’s work, said:

Though Romero is unquestionably the father of the zombie film and TV trend, he was never shy about his true feelings on what the genre has become. The director of Night of the Living Dead, Season of the Witch, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead said in a 2013 interview: “I was using the idea for satire.” Distinguishing 1968’s Night of the living Dead from the films and popular TV series that came after it, Romero added: “My film needed to be done right when it was done, because that sort of shopping mall was completely new. It was the first one in Pennsylvania that we had ever seen. The heart of the story is based in that.” Romero was adamant that genre film never lose sight of good storytelling.

But for all his criticisms of current zombie properties, Romero was hugely supportive of the artisans working in that genre. The Walking Dead’s Greg Nicotero calls Romero is “mentor” and “inspiration.”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon paired his tribute with a still from the original Night of the Living Dead film:

While James Gunn—who directed the likes of Slither before he joined the Marvel stable—credited Romero with inspiring him to get into film in the first place.

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