George A. Romero, the iconic filmmaker who effectively created the zombie genre with his 1968 black-and-white film classic Night of the Living Dead, has passed away at the age of 77.

In a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times, Romero’s longtime production partner Peter Grunwald said that Romero died following a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer.” According to his family, Romero died while listening to the soundtrack of one of his favorite films, The Quiet Man, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero, by his side. In a post on Facebook, Romero’s manager Chris Roe added that the filmmaker “leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time.”

Romero directed a slate of hit sequels to Night of the Living Dead, including 1978’s Dawn of the Dead and 1985’s Day of the Dead. In May, a production company associated with Romero announced that the zombie film Road of the Dead was being produced. The film will carry a “George A. Romero Presents” credit within the title, but will be directed by stuntman-turned-director Matt Birman (Warehouse 13).

The filmmaker was born George Andrew Romero on February 4, 1940, in The Bronx, New York City, New York, to a Cuban father and a Lithuanian-American mother. After growing up in New York, Romero attended Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for his post-secondary education.

Zombies in Night of the Living Dead Night of the Living Dead Director George Romero Dies at 77

After college, Romero directed film shorts and commercials, and in 1968 at the age of 28 he made his directing debut with Night of the Living Dead on a reported budget of $100,000. The film, in addition to its shocking content that depicted the gory consumption of human remains, also enraptured audiences with its undertones of social commentary: a staple that remained in all of Romero’s Dead films including his second zombie trilogy, 1990’s Land of the Dead, 2007’s Diary of the Dead, and George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead in 2009.

Romero’s films inspired countless filmmakers, including Zack Snyder, who remade Dawn of the Dead in 2004; and Edgar Wright and his co-writer Simon Pegg, who brought a fresh spin to the zombie genre the same year with Shaun of the Dead. Most if not all zombie films and TV shows were essentially inspired by Romero’s work, whether it be the 2009 horror-comedy Zombieland, or AMC’s The Walking Dead, which debuted in 2010.

In addition to his zombie entries, Romero helmed other horror films, including 1982’s Creepshow, 1988’s Monkey Shines, and 1993’s The Dark Half. In 1990, the helmer partnered with fellow horror movie icon Dario Argento to direct a segment for Argento’s horror thriller Two Evil Eyes. Also in 1990, Romero wrote the script for a remake of Night of the Living Dead, which was directed by famed makeup artist and Romero’s longtime collaborator Tom Savini.

Romero’s last credit as director was for 2009’s Survival of the Dead. In recent years, the filmmaker remained active in the business as both a write and producer. The filmmaker’s most recent credit is for creating the characters for Hèctor Hernández Vicens’ 2017 remake of Day of the Dead. He is also credited as a writer, along with Birman, on Road of the Dead, which is reportedly set on an island where zombie prisoners race cars in an arena to entertain the rich. The film does not have a release date scheduled.

R.I.P. George A. Romero: February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017

NEXT: The George Romero-Produced Road of the Dead Reveals a Production Poster

Source: Los Angeles Times

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