I normally don’t eulogize artists when I see that they’ve passed, but when I read that George Romero died I immediately felt the urge to write.
Romero famously co-wrote and directed Night of the Living Dead and created an entire genre of horror. With Dracula and Frankenstein we don’t get see their first incarnations; not even on film! But we do get that privilege with the modern zombie; which is a reanimated corpse that consumes the flesh of the living. We are able to watch the very first zombie film and that’s fucking amazing!
I don’t remember the very first zombie film I watched as a kid, but I remember being obsessed with them at a very early age. When we would go to the video rental store my genre was horror; specifically zombie movies. I could barely read at that age too, (I was terrible in school) so I relied on the front and back cover art. I watched Zombi, Return of the Living Dead, Burial Ground, Hell of the Living Dead, but the one film that really captured my imagination was Night of the Living Dead and it’s remake in 1990.
My obsession easily spilled over to every aspect of kid life. I drew little stick figures of zombies decimating a group of people. One zombie held a whole brain above it’s head before it ate it. I even tried to create my own game to play at school called “Zombies” which was essentially just “Tag”, haha. And then there’s the Resident Evil video game series, which I love. It probably would never have existed or gained a following if it weren’t for the inclusion of the classic Romero zombies in it. And how incredible is that? We reference the film maker when we talk about slow-moving, flesh-eating undead; Romero zombies.
There’s so much more I can talk about in regard to the zombie genre and many more blog posts will be coming in the future, but this was is about and dedicated to George Romero.
Besides media consumption Romero also had an early influence on me and my brother when it came to film making. As kids we made a ton of short horror films and trailers. We did it just for fun. But Night of the Living Dead was one of the very first films where I consciously noticed camera angles as a film making technique. It was all angels that we as kids could pull off; nothing about it required a crew or a budget. He showed me how it was possible to make a film with nothing but a camera and some actors.
Thank you George A. Romero for creating an entire genre of horror and influencing kids like me to pick up a camera.