Utter the name George A. Romero amongst horror fans and it’s inevitable that a word like “legend” will swiftly follow. With NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018) and DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978, celebrating its 40th), Romero created the modern version of what we now know as the zombie: a shambling, groaning, flesh-hungry ghoul with few skills save for surprise and sheer numbers. It is a vision that has survived forty years and countless incarnations, from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video to Robert Kirkman’s THE WALKING DEAD, and Romero has never shied away from the legacy, returning to the saga with entries such as DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) and DIARY OF THE DEAD (2007).

Perhaps even more significant is that Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD popularized the concept of guerrilla filmmaking — that is, heading into production in rural Pennsylvania with no major studio backing or budget; just a couple of cameras, some actors, and cheap special effects. The entire independent film scene now owes its existence to this method — and genre film in particular, since original horror flicks are often hard pressed to find financing in Hollywood. Also on Romero’s resume are frequent collaborations with makeup legend Tom Savini, Stephen King adaptations CREEPSHOW (1982) and THE DARK HALF (1993), and classic horror anthologies like TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE (1983).

Romero has worked sparsely since the 80s, mostly penning follow-ups and tie-ins to his ongoing Living Dead series and backing new versions of his earlier work (THE CRAZIES, Zack Snyder’s celebrated DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, etc). But regardless of his recent track record, Romero’s horror films will be well remembered for not only their gore and originality, but their cultural and social commentary, made all the more potent by their decade-spanning release schedule and continued relevance to the world.

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