Director Ge­orge Romero dies at 77

Clas­sic hor­ror film ‘Night of the Liv­ing Dead’ spawned count­less im­i­ta­tions

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Ge­orge Romero, whose clas­sic “Night of the Liv­ing Dead” and other hor­ror films turned zom­bie movies into so­cial com­men­taries and who saw his flesh-de­vour­ing un­dead spawn count­less im­i­ta­tors, re­makes and homages, has died. He was 77.

Romero died Sun­day fol­low­ing a bat­tle with lung cancer, said his fam­ily in a state­ment pro­vided by his man­ager Chris Roe. Romero’s fam­ily said he died while lis­ten­ing to the score of “The Quiet Man,” one of his favourite films, with his wife, Suzanne Des­rocher, and daugh­ter, Tina Romero, by this side.

Roe told The Cana­dian Press in an in­ter­view from Los An­ge­les that Romero died in Toronto, where he had lived since 2004.

Romero “was a gen­tle gi­ant, and one of the kind­est, most giv­ing hu­man be­ings I’ve ever had the plea­sure of know­ing,” Roe said Sun­day, not­ing he and the director had been friends for 15 years.

Romero is cred­ited with rein­vent­ing the movie zom­bie with his di­rec­to­rial de­but, the 1968 cult clas­sic, “Night of the Liv­ing Dead.”

The movie set the rules im­i­ta­tors lived by: Zom­bies move slowly, lust for hu­man flesh and can only be killed when shot in the head. If a zom­bie bites a hu­man, the per­son dies and re­turns as a zom­bie.

“I think it’s very safe to say that ”The Walk­ing Dead“and sim­i­lar fran­chises to that would not ex­ist without Ge­orge Romero,” Roe said.

Romero’s zom­bies, how­ever, were al­ways more than mere can­ni­bals. They were metaphors for con­form­ity, racism, mall cul­ture, mil­i­tarism, class dif­fer­ences and other so­cial ills.

“The zom­bies, they could be any­thing,” Romero told The As­so­ci­ated Press in 2008. “They could be an avalanche, they could be a hur­ri­cane. It’s a dis­as­ter out there. The sto­ries are about how peo­ple fail to re­spond in the proper way. They fail to ad­dress it. They keep try­ing to stick where they are, in­stead of rec­og­niz­ing maybe this is too big for us to try to main­tain. That’s the part of it that I’ve al­ways en­joyed.”

“Night of the Liv­ing Dead,” made for about $100,000, fea­tured flesh-hun­gry ghouls try­ing to feast on hu­mans holed up in a Penn­syl­va­nia house. In 1999, the Li­brary of Congress in­ducted the black-and-white mas­ter­piece into the Na­tional Registry of Films.

Romero’s death was im­me­di­ately felt across a wide spec­trum of hor­ror fans and film­mak­ers. Stephen King, whose “The Dark Half” was adapted by Romero, called him his favourite col­lab­o­ra­tor and said, “There will never be an­other like you.” Guillermo del Toro called the loss “enor­mous.”

AP FILE PHOTO

In this Mon­day, Jan. 21, 2008, file photo, director and writer Ge­orge Romero poses for a pho­to­graph while talk­ing about his film ‘Diary of the Dead’ at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val in Park City, Utah.

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