Entertainment & Arts

Living Dead director George A Romero dies at 77

Director George A Romero attends a photocall promoting the film Land of the Dead at the Martinez Poolside during the 58th International Cannes Film Festival May 14, 2005 in Cannes, France Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption George A Romero promoting 2005's Land of the Dead in Cannes

The American-born filmmaker George A Romero, who created the Living Dead movie franchise, has died at the age of 77, his manager has said.

Romero died in his sleep on Sunday with his wife and daughter at his side, after a "brief but aggressive battle" with lung cancer, Chris Roe said.

Romero co-wrote and directed the film that started the zombie series Night of the Living Dead in 1968.

It led to a number of sequels - and a host of imitators.

Roe said Romero died listening to the score of The Quiet Man, "one of his all-time favourite films".

At the time of its release, Night of the Living Dead was criticised for being gory but it went on to be a cult classic and shape horror and zombie films for decades.

While it did not use the word zombies, it was the first film to depict cannibalistic reanimated corpses.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Living Dead franchise began in 1968, with the most recent made in 2009

Previous films had shown zombies as being living people who had been bewitched through voodoo.

Despite having a budget of just $114,000, the film made $30m at the box office and was followed by five sequels and two remakes.

Mr Romero had a non-starring and uncredited role in the film as a news reporter.

He went on to direct other films including the 1971 romantic comedy There's Always Vanilla, the 1978 vampire film Martin, and the 1982 Stephen King adaptation Creepshow.

His only work to top the box office success enjoyed by Night of the Living Dead was Dawn of the Dead, released in 1978, which earned more than $40m.

Fellow film directors including Max Landis and Jordan Peele paid tribute to Romero on Twitter.

Image copyright TWITTER/JORDANPEELE

Director and producer Eli Roth wrote: "Just heard the news about George Romero. Hard to quantify how much he inspired me & what he did for cinema. Condolences to his family."

He continued in a thread of tweets: "Romero used genre to confront racism 50 years ago. He always had diverse casts, with Duane Jones as the heroic star of NOTLD."

Roth said that "very few others in cinema were taking such risks" and that Romero "as "both ahead of his time and exactly what cinema needed at that time".

Baby Driver director Edgar Wright wrote that "he couldn't into one tweet" how he felt, so he wrote a blog post in memory of Romero.

He said: "It's fair to say that without George A. Romero, I would not have the career that I have now. A lot of people owe George a huge debt of gratitude for the inspiration. I am just one of many."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ed Harris on Romero: "He was a great friend. I miss him."

Ed Harris said on Radio 4's Today programme: "I really loved George. He was big, beautiful, gregarious bear of a guy."

Romero worked with Harris on the 1981 drama film, Knightriders. Harris continued to explain how it was his first lead role in a film and that George A. Romero was "a joy work with and treated everyone with respect."


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