Filmmaker George A. Romero, the creator of the zombie horror film genre, passed away on Sunday, July 16. Romero is best known for the classic films “Night of the Living Dead” and “Day of the Dead.” But what isn’t fully known about his work is the deeper part of his legacy that has and will continue to endure the test of time.
While Romero’s most famous works include the “Living Dead” series of films, we cannot forget the Steven King anthology “Creepshow,” which adds to his work as a legendary director in the world of Horror.
He must also be acknowledged for uniquely exploring the issues of the times, such as unease during the Cold War, dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War, the social unrest following the Civil Rights Movement, the overindulgence of our Consumerist America and our country’s failure to face the issues of race. Romero wove these critical issues amid his gore-filled scenes of terror that he is so famous for.
While Romero made his directorial debut with the 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead,” at the time many wrote the movie off as nothing more than a junky, needlessly gruesome B-movie that set out to do little more than shock and disgust audiences. Now, almost half a century later, it’s clear just how influential “Living Dead” was.
The original “Night of the Living Dead” is a true classic in film history, credited with shaping the idea of the modern zombie. Defining what makes a zombie a zombie is something that may seem corny or insignificant on paper, especially in this oversaturated, zombie-crazed media landscape we live in today. But for countless movies, television shows, books, and video games to have a single common ancestor shows the staggering influence of Romero’s work. Very rarely does a single film have such profound impact on culture across the world.
The influence of Romero’s work as a filmmaker can be seen everywhere, from contemporary Horror such as “The Walking Dead” or “Get Out,” to kids playing make-believe. So long as people fear that the dead may one day walk the earth again, Romero will be remembered.