Just when you thought 2017 couldn’t suck any harder than it already does, we lose another massive legend. We lost George A. Romero today and I still haven’t processed it. I knew I wanted to write something for him but I found myself just staring at the screen wondering where to even start.
It’s easy for people to say, “He just made movies, why are you so upset?” We’re upset because he didn’t JUST make movies and his movies weren’t JUST movies. This man created a genre, a movement. He made a community and a fandom. Whether you loved his movies or hated them, his legacy is undeniable.
The reason you think of flesh-eater when you think of a zombie is because of George A. Romero. Before him, zombies were the product of voodoo and magic. A stolen soul used to be a slave. He single handedly changed an entire genre. He’s the reason we have The Walking Dead. He’s the reason for any zombie walk you’ve ever been to and any zombie video games you’ve played. The father of flesh-eaters. He made the brain-eating, shambling, decomposing hordes that we know of as zombies today.
I first encountered his work when I saw his collaboration with Stephen King for Creepshow as a child. It was one of the reasons I love horror so much. It was scary, goofy and gorgeous. It still gives me the creeps to this day. I then fell in love with Night of the Living Dead. I had old copies, new copies, copies with Elvira commentary. The combination of that movie and Resident Evil made me the zombie fanatic I am today. And the reason Resident Evil has flesh eaters is due to his creation of the entire genre!
I had the pleasure of meeting him almost a decade ago. I traveled to Texas just for the five minute interaction I would get with him. He was one of the nicest people you’d ever meet and always made time for fans. He never hurried them; never made them feel like just a number in line and always had some conversation and a smile when it was their turn to step up.
Many of you have read from us that he was making a new movie called Road of the Dead and the artwork was released less than two weeks ago. The fate of the movie is unknown at this time but I can only hope that Matt Birman continues what he and Romero started and was excited about. Part of me thinks that he knew this would be his last movie and wanted to go out doing what he loved and what he was known for.
When it was announced that he was making a new movie, so many people (myself included) were so damn excited. It has been so long since Survival of the Dead. Along with the excitement came the people who complained about how “his movies sucked” or how “he should have quit after Day of the Dead.” But if George A. Romero gave the naysayers anything, it was the opportunity to bitch about something at least, and it never bothered him in the slightest.
His movies were important. Night of the Living Dead had a black lead in 1968! I remember listening to him talk about it. He said that he had the finally finished reel of film being transported in the trunk of his car when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot.
He used Dawn of the Dead to mirror the rise of commercialism in society and used The Crazies to talk about the Vietnam War and the distrust of the military during that time. Diary of the Dead zoned in on our dependency on technology. The list goes on…
I can’t even begin to describe how much this man will be missed by so many. He brought us together: to think, to dress up, to debate, to make friends, to be scared and to laugh. He touched so many lives not just as a filmmaker but as a person. From all of us here at iHorror and around the world…we’re going to miss you George A. Romero, so much.