George Romero, the father of the zombie horror genre, passed away last Sunday at the age of 77.
Romero burst onto the scene in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead, which cost only $100,000 to produce and broke a barrier when he casted an African-American male in the lead heroic role.
Little did he know that this zombie movie would birth a subgenre within the horror genre that set the rules directors still abide by. From Fox News:
It also set the rules the creators of zombie flick remakes live by: Zombies move slowly, lust for human flesh and can only be killed when show in the head. If a zombie bites a human, the person dies and returns as a zombie.
Famous fans of his work mourned his death on social media. Stephen King called him his favorite collaborator and said, “There will never be another like you.” Movie director Guillermo del Toro said, “The loss is so enormous.”
Romero followed Night of the Living Dead with a viral zombiesh movie The Crazies and vampire movie Martin, both of which fantastic and deserve to be discussed on the level as the his first.
But Romero returned to the top in 1978 with the sequel Dawn of the Dead:
Romero created “Dawn of the Dead” 10 years later, which film critic Roger Ebert called “one of the best horror films ever made — and, as an inescapable result, one of the most horrifying. It is gruesome, sickening, disgusting, violent, brutal and appalling. It is also … brilliantly crafted, funny, droll, and savagely merciless in its satiric view of the American consumer society.”
He continued with the zombie movies with 1985’s Day of the Dead, 2005’s Land of the Dead, 2007’s Diary of the Dead, and 2009’s Survival of the Dead.
Despite these movies, he never had a desire to watch other zombie related shows or movies like The Walking Dead:
“Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally,” he told the Big Issue. “I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism, and I find that missing in what’s happening now.”
Romero took an intellectual view to his depiction of zombies, an approach he found lacking in some of the work that came after him.
“I grew up on these slow-moving-but-you-can’t-stop-them [creatures], where you’ve got to find the Achilles’ heel, or in this case, the Achilles’ brain,” Romero told The Times in 2005, referring to the organ whose destruction waylays a zombie. “In [the remake] they’re just dervishes, you don’t recognize any of them, there’s nothing to characterize them…. [But] I like to give even incidental zombies a bit of identification. I just think it’s a nice reminder that they’re us. They walked out of one life and into this.”
People often criticized Romero for his movies not always having an obvious unflawed good or bad guy, which few has also used. But Romero has a valid point for doing what he did. The Los Angeles Times continued:
“I’ve been criticized the most for not writing good-guy/bad-guy characters,” he explained. “But my people aren’t clear-cut because real people aren’t clear-cut. They’re usually very gray, very ambiguous.
“That’s what makes this story so disturbing, because you don’t know where you stand with everyone. There’s a wonderful line in the original novel — ‘the devil is instinct.’ And I think that’s what I responded to most — the theme of the evil within, the Jekyll-and-Hyde quality of the character.”
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