Remembering the godfather of zombie filmmaking
Director George A. Romero made many of his now-classic genre films after settling in T.O.
More than a decade ago, we found out that George A. Romero was filming one of his now-iconic zombie flicks at a suburban shopping mall in Thornhill. For some, it was like the GTA had finally made it. He was that important.
Apparently, the late, great filmmaker, born in the Bronx, was quite fond of Toronto as well, and he had made his permanent home here since 2004, with his wife Suzanne Desrocher, and took up Canadian citizenship in 2009. And it was here that he passed away of cancer last month.
After graduating from university in 1960, Romero began his career shooting commercials and short films, including an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood.
His career-defining film, Night of the Living Dead, came with his first kick at the movie can in 1968. But he didn’t establish his now legendary Dead series right away. Instead, he opted to follow up his first film with the romantic comedy There’s Always Vanilla. He returned to complete his Dead trilogy with Dawn of
the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), cementing his status as cinematic legend. He continued to explore the gory landscape, often with a side of social commentary to boot. In addition, he inspired countess filmmakers along the way.
In 2009, Romero premiered Survival of the Dead at the Toronto International Film Festival. In an interview with Post City at the time, he tackled the question of whether or not you had to have a screw loose to make such movies.
“None of us horror filmmakers — Wes Craven, John Carpenter — there’s not a weird guy in the bunch,” he said.
“It’s funny, man, people expect that I walk around in a cape and fangs and sleep in a coffin or something, and whenever I do a photo shoot for a magazine, they always want to do it in a cemetery.” Romero had been working on a new film, Road of the
Dead. A memorial was held at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on July 24 to honour the acclaimed director who inspired (and scared the pants off of ) so many.
George A. Romero with his undead friends at a film premiere
L-R: Sarah Polley in a scene from ‘Dawn of the Dead,’ which was shot in a Thornhill mall; looking for ‘more brains’ in the original classic ‘Night of the Living Dead’