Horror Icons: George A. Romero

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September is The Horror Syndicate’s Zombie month.  So of course September’s Horror Icon is George A. Romero.

The father of the modern zombie, the flesh eating ghoul.  Before Night of the Living Dead any film with a zombie, was not the a zombie the way we currently know them.  We are talking about a human being with no thoughts, someone controlled by another.  This usually happens through voodoo.  A lot of pirate films have a zombie element.  With Night of the Living Dead, Romero wanted to do something different and they were not called zombies, rather “flesh eaters”.  Hell the film was supposed to be called Night of the Flesh Eaters.  I for one am happy we got of the Living Dead.  It is more ominous and not as corny as “flesh eaters”.  Think about this, for all of you out there that watch the Walking Dead every single Sunday night, you can thank George Romero.  Without Night of the Living Dead, there is a good chance we would not have the Walking Dead.  If you have not seen his films and call yourself a zombie fan, fix that, right away.

Since Night of the Living Dead was released in 1968, Romero made other films.  He is known mostly for the zombie films and was asked so many times to come back and back a sequel to Night of the Living Dead.  He made movies like Crazies or Martin.  It was only after a trip to the Monroeville Mall, a friend of his owned the mall and gave him a tour, the tour ended up giving us Dawn of the Dead.  Shortly after he signed a deal with a studio which gave him a few movies, as long as he did a sequel to Dawn of the Dead.  Rather than jumping right back in to the world of the living dead, he made Knightriders and Creepshow.  It took seven years after the release of Dawn of the Dead before we would see Day of the Dead released in 1985.  In an interview Romero thinks Day of the Dead would have done better in the box office if it were released shortly after Dawn of the Dead.  I agree, the 1980s saw a lot of sequels and to me was the decade of the Slasher genre.

Day of the Dead also fell short after being released after Return of the Living Dead.  Day of the Dead was really depressing, where Return of the Living Dead was horror with comedy.  Really, you cannot compare the two movies, they are very different, but Romero is partially responsible for Return of the Living Dead.  John Russo, co-wrote Night of the Living Dead and helped bring Return of the Living Dead to life.  Both movies are great, I think over time people look at Day of the Dead as possibly Romero’s best overall zombie movie.

Romero will forever be remembered for his zombie films.  The first three, Night, Dawn and Day have been remade and the sequels were not as good. Night of the Living Dead (1990) was directed by Tom Savini and is very good,very similar to the original, slightly different with an update.  Dawn of the Dead (2004) was directed by Zack Snyder, the story was different, making it less of a remake. Day of the Dead (2008) was released in 2008 and a total piece of shit and it almost feels like someone shit all over the original.  I nearly forgot about about Night of the Living Dead 3D staring Sid Haig, so has everyone else.  But, his legacy will be his original three movies and even the three that followed Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2008) and Survival of the Dead (2009).

There is some question of which film is the best.  I believe that to be a loaded question.  Night of the Living Dead was ground breaking and historical, it launched two separate zombie franchises.  For the record, Night of the Living Dead is responsible for Return of the Living Dead.  Dawn of the Dead was so different and it was more gore and more often, adding humor.  George Romero calls Tom Savini and tells him to think of new ways to kill someone.  Day of the Dead had the best story in my opinion, best effects and story.

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Romero is a horror director and if you did not know, he has been a part of other great horror films and made his own.  This is a list of his zombie movies.  I cannot stress this enough, you have to see each of these movies to call yourself a horror fan.  Well, Night, Dawn and Day for sure.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Day of the Dead (1985)

Land of the Dead (2005)

Diary of the Dead (2008)

Survival of the Dead (2009)

For tonight, I think I will go ahead and watch Diary of the Dead, it deserves another viewing, it is pretty great.  But the zombie movies are not the only movies Romero made.  He is mostly known for his zombie movies and why not?  There are others like Martin, Creepshow, the Crazies, Two Evil Eyes, Monkey Shines and the strange Knightriders.

George A. Romero is the father of the modern zombie.  I nearly forgot to mention a few documentaries, one you can find in the Dawn of the Dead Ultimate Edition or the Dawn of the Dead Blu Ray, The Dead Will Walk.  World’s End: The Legacy of Day of the Dead, which you can find on the Scream Factory Day of the Dead Blu Ray.  Birth of the Living Dead pops up on Netflix now and again and it is in-depth about the beginnings of Night of the Living Dead and the effect it has had on pop culture.

George A. Romero is not only a Horror Icon, he is a Horror treasure.  Thanks for reading and as Romero says, “Stay scared!”

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About Ray Marek III 252 Articles
I am a lifelong horror fan. I have written for a few web sites, Kung-Fu Comrades, Nightfall Unlimited and Rage of Rayzor. Freddy's Revenge was the first Horror Film I watched, I was 5. When my mom found out I liked horror films, she began challenging me. Soon to follow were the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the Dead. Horror is in my blood, I want to share that with you...my blood...horror. I write unpublished comics. Lifelong dream is to write comics for a major comic book publisher or build my own comic book company.