It’s been well over half of a year and now 2017 has claimed yet another legend within the annuals of pop culture. George A. Romero, Director, Writer and most notably, Father of the modern Zombie genre has made the transition to the other side.
Ironically, Romero’s film career began with filming a segment for Mister roger’s neighborhood which is the far opposite of his later projects-starting with his commercial success breakthrough-Night of The Living Dead. This I am Legend inspired thriller not only introduced the world to what’s known as the Zombie apocalypse, but also provided social commentary i.e. racism and class warfare.
This 1968 cult classic is perhaps the very first horror film that starred a black actor as the lead protagonist and what’s even more shocking is how he outlived the supporting characters until that mindfuck of an ending that left me stunned as a kid who often watched horror movies.
The irony is, that said ending was never meant to be used as a racial allegory. In an interview Romero implied that actor Duane Jones was best qualified for the lead role as Ben. However, it worked exceptionally well for the breakthrough film.
His follow up sequel, Dawn of the Dead became a bigger commercial success and this time, the social commentary was intentional when the mindless Zombies were used as metaphoric avatars for American consumerism. Personally, I didn’t find it terrifying as the first movie but with ambitious prosthetics courtesy of Tom Savini and a killer soundtrack from a band called Goblin Dawn had further ushered in the Zombie genre to the extent that another famous Horror Director tried to imitate George’s zombie formula, and in turn, found a modicum of critical acclaim. Directed by Lucio Fulci, 1979’s Zombie was made to capitalize off the success of the living dead sequel and to Fulci’s credit, it was just as ambitious and terrifying as the aforementioned Romero films and yet retained its own identity despite being billed as a “sequel” to Dawn. To say how Romero had contributed so much to the mainstream of pop culture is a huge understatement!
What was George’s lightning in a bottle soon became this explosion of Cannibalistic Zombie projects, be it Return of the Living Dead, World War Z, The Walking Dead and of course the phenomenal Capcom videogame series-Resident Evil! Heavily inspired by the first two Living Dead films, with a touch of paramilitary aspects with an underground conspiracy, Resident Evil has gained popularity and of course became a world of its own from merchandise to live action film projects. Capcom at the time, had commissioned Romero to direct a 30 second commercial for their sequel Resident Evil 2.
Capcom went further when having Romero write a script for their upcoming live action film based on the venerable videogame, only to reject his chance of helming the film in favor of Paul “Without Substance” Anderson. What is interesting is had Romeo patented the “Living Dead “concept, he would have made millions upon millions! But nonetheless, the brilliant genius that is George has left an amazing cultural impact and he will never be forgotten! Thanks so much for all the scares, shivers and jaw drops George. Rest in Power and may you find resurrection in the afterlife!
Romero’s first videogame appearance!
This Misfits video Scream was directed by George A. Romero
John Carpenter’s character, Romero from Escape from New York pays homage toward his friend and iconic Director!