In Remembrance of George Romero King of the Zombie Film
“They are coming to get you Barbara...” Those one of the first phrases to the most popular and well known zombie film of all time, Night of the Living Dead. What was supposed to be a one shot job ended up spawning a franchise bigger than itself. On that date in 1968, the first modern zombie movie was born. Due to director George Romero's creative genius with Night of the Living Dead, other film directors began to mimic his trend of the ravenously hungry, reanimated, lumbering, infectious zombie. From the popular The Walking Dead television show and comics, video games such as Left for Dead, to films such as World War Z and 28 Days Later, Romero's original conception has leaked into public consciousness. There are few today who do not have that stereotypical image of a zombie in their imaginations, yet very little know that it was Romero who gave this to us.
Not stopping there, Romero created several sequels that emphasized social commentary on consumerism (Dawn of the Dead), factionalism and the human condition (Day of the Dead), class warfare (Land of the Dead), and mistrust of the media (Diary of the Dead). His ability to ask the hard questions while entertaining and scaring audiences has been studied and analyzed a hundred times over by those wishing to mimic his technique. There is something magical about these films that encapsulates the moment in time they were created; whether it be the controversy of having an African American hero in Night of the Living Dead who is shot at the end for looking like a zombie, or emphasizing the brutalization of the poor by the elite in Land of the Dead. Despite attempts at remakes to his earlier films, Romero has yet to be copied, nor it seems ever will be.
On July 16, 2017, George Romero died in his sleep at age 77 from lung cancer. The undisputed King of the Zombie Film shall be sorely missed, but his mark upon us will never go away. Like the greats before him, Romero's influence in story telling and film making continues to be taught in film classes, and many of his works are considered timeless classics. Even these many days later, the shock of the finality of his passing has not worn off, and there can be no tribute long enough to honor such a man. That said, we shall all remember Romero as the one who taught us that the dead could come back to life, and that to put them down only required a shot through the head.Requiescat in pace George Romero, and may we never forget you.