George Andrew Romero (/rəˈmɛəroʊ/; February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017) was an American-Canadian filmmaker, writer and editor. He is best known for his series of gruesome and satirical horror films about an imagined zombie apocalypse, beginning with Night of the Living Dead (1968). This film is often considered a progenitor of the fictional zombie of modern culture. Other films in the series include Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985). Aside from this series, his works include The Crazies (1973), Martin (1978), Creepshow (1982), Monkey Shines (1988), The Dark Half (1993) and Bruiser (2000). He also created and executive-produced the 1983–88 television series Tales from the Darkside.
George A. Romero
Romero in Venice, 2009
George Andrew Romero
February 4, 1940
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Died||July 16, 2017 (aged 77)|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Alma mater||Carnegie Mellon University|
(m. 1971; div. 1978)
(m. 1980; div. 2010)
Suzanne Desrocher (m. 2011)
Romero was born in the New York City borough of the Bronx. He is the son of Ann (Dvorsky) and George Romero, a commercial artist. His mother was Lithuanian and his father moved from Spain to Cuba as a child. His father has been reported as born in A Coruña, with his family coming from the Galician town of Neda, although Romero once described his father as of Castilian descent.
Raised in the Bronx, he would frequently ride the subway into Manhattan to rent film reels to view at his house. He was one of only two people who repeatedly rented the opera-based film The Tales of Hoffmann; the other was future director Martin Scorsese. Romero attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
After graduating from college in 1960, Romero began his career shooting short films and TV commercials. One of his early commercial films was a segment for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in which Fred Rogers underwent a tonsillectomy. With nine friends, including screenwriter John A. Russo, Romero formed, Image Ten Productions in the late 1960s. This is the production company that produced Night of the Living Dead (1968). Directed by Romero and co-written with John A. Russo, the movie became a cult classic and a defining moment for modern horror cinema.
Among the inspiration for Romero's filmmaking, as told to Robert K. Elder in an interview for The Film That Changed My Life, was the British film, The Tales of Hoffmann (1951) from the Powell and Pressburger team.
The three films that Romero created that followed Night of the Living Dead: There's Always Vanilla (1971), Jack's Wife / Season of the Witch (1972) and The Crazies (1973) were not as well received as Night of the Living Dead or some of his later work. The Crazies, dealing with a bio spill that induces an epidemic of homicidal madness, and the critically acclaimed arthouse success Martin (1978), a film that deals with the vampire myth, were the two well-known films from this period.
Romero returned to the zombie genre in 1978 with Dawn of the Dead. Shot on a budget of $1.5 million the film earned over $55 million internationally and was later named one of the top cult films by Entertainment Weekly in 2003. Romero made the third entry in his "Dead Series" with Day of the Dead in 1985.
Between these two films, Romero shot Knightriders (1981), another festival favorite about a group of modern-day jousters who reenact tournaments on motorcycles; and Creepshow (1982), written by Stephen King, an anthology of tongue-in-cheek tales modeled after 1950s horror comics. The cult-classic success of Creepshow led to the creation of Romero's Tales from the Darkside, a horror anthology television series that aired from 1983 to 1988.
From the latter half of the 1980s and into the 1990s came Monkey Shines (1988), about a killer helper monkey; Two Evil Eyes (a.k.a. "Due occhi Diabolici", 1990), an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation in collaboration with Dario Argento; The Dark Half (1993) from a novel written by Stephen King; and Bruiser (2000), about a man whose face becomes a blank mask.
Romero updated his original screenplay and executive-produced the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead directed by Tom Savini for Columbia/TriStar. Savini is also responsible for the makeup and special effects in many of Romero's films including Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Creepshow, and Monkey Shines. Romero had a cameo appearance in Jonathan Demme's Academy Award-winning The Silence of the Lambs (1991) as one of Hannibal Lecter's jailers.
In 1998, he directed a live-action commercial promoting the videogame Resident Evil 2 in Tokyo. The 30-second advertisement featured the game's two main characters, Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, fighting a horde of zombies while in Raccoon City's police station. The project was obvious territory for Romero; the Resident Evil series has been heavily influenced by the "Dead Series". The commercial was popular and was shown in the weeks before the game's actual release, although a contract dispute prevented it from being shown outside Japan. Capcom was so impressed with Romero's work, it was strongly indicated that Romero would direct the first Resident Evil film. He declined at first — "I don't wanna make another film with zombies in it, and I couldn't make a movie based on something that ain't mine" — although in later years, he reconsidered and wrote a script for the first movie. It was eventually rejected in favor of Paul W. S. Anderson's version.
Universal Studios produced and released a 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, with which Romero was not involved. Later that year, Romero kicked off the DC Comics title Toe Tags with a six-issue miniseries titled The Death of Death. Based on an unused script that Romero had previously written for his "Dead Series", the comic miniseries concerns Damien, an intelligent zombie who remembers his former life, struggling to find his identity as he battles armies of both the living and the dead. Typical of a Romero zombie tale, the miniseries includes ample supply of both gore and social commentary (dealing particularly here with corporate greed and terrorism — ideas he would also explore in his next film in the series, Land of the Dead). Romero has stated that the miniseries is set in the same kind of world as his Dead films, but featured other locales besides Pittsburgh, where the majority of his films take place.
Romero, who lived in Toronto, directed a fourth Dead movie in that city, Land of the Dead, released in 2005. The movie's working title was "Dead Reckoning". Actors Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, and John Leguizamo starred, and the film was released by Universal Pictures (who released the Dawn of the Dead remake the year before). The film received generally positive reviews.
Some critics have seen social commentary in much of Romero's work. They view Night of the Living Dead as a film made in reaction to the turbulent 1960s, Dawn of the Dead as a satire on consumerism, Day of the Dead as a study of the conflict between science and the military, and Land of the Dead as an examination of class conflict.
In June 2006, Romero began his next project, called Zombisodes. Broadcast on the Internet, it is a combination of a series of "Making of" shorts and story expansion detailing the work behind the 2007 film George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead. Shooting began in Toronto in July 2006.
In August 2006, The Hollywood Reporter made two announcements about Romero, the first being that he would write and direct a film based on a short story by Koji Suzuki, author of Ring and Dark Water, called Solitary Isle and the second announcement pertaining to his signing on to write and direct George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead, which follows a group of college students filming a horror movie who proceed to film the events that follow when the dead rise.
After a limited theatrical release, Diary of the Dead was released on DVD by Dimension Extreme on May 20, 2008, and later to Blu-ray on October 21, 2008. Shooting began in Toronto in September 2008 on Romero's Survival of the Dead (2009). The film was initially reported to be a direct sequel to Diary of the Dead, but the film features only Alan van Sprang, who appeared briefly as a rogue National Guard officer, reprising his role from the previous film, and did not retain the first-person camerawork of Diary of the Dead. The film centers on two feuding families taking very different approaches in dealing with the living dead on a small coastal island. The film premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Prior to the May 28, 2010, theatrical release in the United States, Survival of the Dead was made available to video on demand and was aired as a special one-night showing on May 26, 2010, on HDNet.
Romero made an appearance in the second downloadable map pack called "Escalation" for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops. He appears as himself in the zombies map "Call of the Dead" as a non-playable enemy character. Romero is featured alongside actors Sarah Michelle Gellar, Danny Trejo, Michael Rooker, and Robert Englund, all of the four being playable characters. He is portrayed as a powerful "boss" zombie armed with a movie studio light.
In 2010, Romero was contacted by Claudio Argento to direct a 3D remake of his younger brother Dario Argento's film, Deep Red (1975). Claudio was expected to write the screenplay and told Romero that his brother would also be involved. Romero, who showed interest in the project, decided to contact his longtime friend Dario only to find out that Dario was unaware of a remake and Romero ended up declining Claudio's offer. Romero stated that he had plans for two more "Dead" movies which would be connected to Diary of the Dead and they would be made depending on how successful Survival of the Dead was. Romero, however, said that his next project would not involve zombies and he was going for the scare factor, but offered no further details.
In 2012, Romero returned to video games recording his voice for "Zombie Squash" as the lead villain, Dr. B. E. Vil. "Zombie Squash HD Free" game was released by ACW Games for the iPad in November 2012.
In 2014, Marvel Comics began releasing Empire of the Dead, a 15-issue miniseries written by Romero. The series, which is broken up into three five-issues acts, features not only zombies but also vampires. In May 2015, it was announced at Cannes that the production company Demarest was developing the comic series into a TV series. The series will be written and executive-produced by Romero and Peter Grunwald.
In May 2017, Romero announced plans for George A. Romero Presents: Road of the Dead, a film that he co-wrote with Matt Birman, who would direct the film making it Romero's first zombie-themed film that he did not direct himself. Romero and Birman along with Matt Manjourides and Justin Martell will produce the film. Birman was the second unit director on Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. Birman pitched the idea to Romero ten years earlier, saying the movie is like The Road Warrior meets Rollerball at a NASCAR race, with significant inspiration from Ben-Hur and that "the story is set on an island where zombie prisoners race cars in a modern-day Coliseum for the entertainment of wealthy humans".
On July 13, 2017, Romero released the first poster for Road of the Dead and discussed the plot for the movie saying "it's set in a sanctuary city where this fat cat runs a haven for rich folks, and one of the things that he does is stage drag races to entertain them," Romero told Rue Morgue. "There's a scientist there doing genetic experiments, trying to make the zombies stop eating us, and he has discovered that with a little tampering, they can recall certain memory skills that enable them to drive in these races. It's really The Fast and the Furious with zombies". Romero died three days later, and the status of the film is currently unknown.
Romero was married three times. He married his first wife, Nancy, in 1971. They divorced in 1978. They had one child together, Cameron. Romero met his second wife, actress Christine Forrest, on the set of Season of the Witch (1973), and they married in 1980. She had bit parts in most of his films. They had two children together, Andrew and Tina Romero. The couple divorced in 2010 after three decades of marriage. Romero met Suzanne Desrocher while filming Land of the Dead (2005), and they married in September 2011 at Martha's Vineyard and lived in Toronto. He acquired Canadian citizenship in 2009, becoming a dual Canada-U.S. citizen. His son Cameron is a filmmaker, responsible for the film Origins (2015), which is the prequel to Night of the Living Dead.
On July 16, 2017, Romero died in his sleep following a "brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer", according to a statement by his longtime producing partner, Peter Grunwald. Romero died while listening to the score of one of his favorite films, The Quiet Man, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter from his second marriage, Tina Romero, at his side.
Romero ranked his top ten films of all time for the 2002 Sight & Sound Greatest Films Poll. They are The Brothers Karamazov, Casablanca, Dr. Strangelove, High Noon, King Solomon's Mines, North by Northwest (a film on which a teenaged Romero worked as a gofer), The Quiet Man, Repulsion, Touch of Evil and The Tales of Hoffmann. Romero listed the films in alphabetical order, with special placement given to Michael Powell's The Tales of Hoffmann, which he cites as "my favourite film of all time; the movie that made me want to make movies".
On October 27, 2009, Romero was honored with the Mastermind Award at Spike TV's Scream 2009. The tribute was presented by longtime Romero fan Quentin Tarantino, who stated in his speech that the "A" in George A. Romero stood for "A fucking genius."
Regarded as the "Godfather of the Dead" and the "father of the modern movie zombie", Romero's influence, and that of Night of the Living Dead, is widely seen among numerous filmmakers and artists, in particular those who have worked in the zombie subgenre, including comics writer Robert Kirkman, novelist Seth Grahame-Smith, and filmmakers John Carpenter, Edgar Wright and Jack Thomas Smith.
The season eight premiere episode "Mercy" of the zombie-based show The Walking Dead, the first to air after Romero's death, dedicated the episode to Romero; showrunner Scott M. Gimple said that the show "owes a great debt" to Romero for his impact on popular culture.
Creepshow is a 1982 American horror anthology film directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King, making this film his screenwriting debut. The film's ensemble cast includes Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson and E. G. Marshall, as well as King himself in his film acting debut. The film was shot on location in Pittsburgh and its suburbs, including Monroeville, where Romero leased an old boys academy (Penn Hall) to build extensive sets for the film.
The film consists of five short stories: "Father's Day", "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", "Something to Tide You Over", "The Crate" and "They're Creeping Up on You!" Two of these stories were adapted from King's short stories, with the film bookended by prologue and epilogue scenes featuring a young boy named Billy (played by King's son, Joe), who is punished by his father for reading horror comics.
The film is an homage to the EC and DC horror comics of the 1950s, such as House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear. In order for the film to give viewers a comic book feel, Romero hired long-time effects specialist Tom Savini to make comic-like effects.
The film earned $21,028,755 in the United States.Dawn of the Dead (1978 film)
Dawn of the Dead (also known internationally as Zombi or Zombie) is a 1978 American independent zombie horror film directed by George A. Romero. It was written by Romero in collaboration with the Italian filmmaker Dario Argento and produced by Richard P. Rubinstein. It was the second film made in Romero's Night of the Living Dead series and shows in a larger scale the apocalyptic effects on society, though it contains no characters or settings from the film Night of the Living Dead. In the film, a phenomenon of unidentified origin has caused the reanimation of the dead, who prey on human flesh. David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, and Gaylen Ross star as survivors of the outbreak who barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall amid mass hysteria.
Dawn of the Dead was filmed over approximately four months, from late 1977 to early 1978, in the Pennsylvania cities of Pittsburgh and Monroeville. Its primary filming location was the Monroeville Mall. The film was made on a budget estimated at $1.5 million and grossed approximately $55 million worldwide. The film has a 93% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, which calls it "one of the most compelling and entertaining zombie films ever made" in its critical consensus.In addition to four official sequels, the film has spawned numerous parodies and pop culture references. A remake premiered in the United States on March 19, 2004. The remake was directed by Zack Snyder and written by James Gunn, the latter of whom labeled it a "re-imagining" of the original film's concept. In 2008, Dawn of the Dead was chosen by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, along with Night of the Living Dead.Day of the Dead (1985 film)
Day of the Dead is a 1985 American zombie horror film written and directed by George A. Romero, and the third film in Romero's Night of the Living Dead series, which began with Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978).Romero describes the film as a "tragedy about how a lack of human communication causes chaos and collapse even in this small little pie slice of society".This film features Sherman Howard in an early appearance as Bub, and make-up artist Gregory Nicotero playing Private Johnson and assisting Tom Savini with the make-up effects.
The film was remade twice: the first is the 2008 film of the same name and the second is Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2018).Diary of the Dead
Diary of the Dead is a 2007 American found footage horror film written and directed by George A. Romero. Although independently produced, it was distributed theatrically by Dimension Films and was released in cinemas on February 15, 2008 and on DVD by The Weinstein Company and Genius Entertainment on May 20, 2008.
Diary of the Dead is the fifth film in Romero's Night of the Living Dead series of zombie films. It is not a direct sequel to previous films in the series, but occurs within the same universe of the original trilogy according to Romero.George A. Romero bibliography
A list of books and essays about George A. Romero:
Ryall, Chris; Romero, George A. (2006). George A. Romero's Land of the Dead. IDW. ISBN 978-1-933239-74-3.
Paffenroth, Kim (2006). Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth. Baylor University Press. ISBN 978-1-932792-65-2.
Wetmore, Jr., Kevin J. (13 June 2011). Back from the Dead: Remakes of the Romero Zombie Films as Markers of Their Times. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4642-1.
Williams, Tony (2011). George A. Romero: Interviews. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-61703-027-7.
Williams, Tony (13 August 2013). The Cinema of George A. Romero: Knight of the Living Dead. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-85030-8.
Stephen King's Creepshow: A George A. Romero Film. New American Library. 1982. ISBN 978-0-452-25380-3.George A. Romero filmography
George A. Romero (1940–2017) was an American-Canadian film director, writer, editor and cinematographer. He contributed to many projects as either the writer, director, editor, cinematographer or a combination of the four.
Romero's first project was the 1968 horror film Night of the Living Dead, which he produced independently. Romero was also a contributing producer for the anthology television series Tales from the Darkside, which aired from 1983 to 1988.Knightriders
Knightriders, also known as George A. Romero's Knightriders, is a 1981 American drama film written and directed by George A. Romero and starring Ed Harris, Gary Lahti, Tom Savini, Amy Ingersoll, Patricia Tallman, and Christine Forrest. It was filmed entirely on location in the Pittsburgh metro area, including Fawn Township and Natrona.The film represents a change of pace for Romero, known primarily for his horror films; it is a personal drama about a travelling renaissance fair troupe.Land of the Dead
Land of the Dead (also known as George A. Romero's Land of the Dead) is a 2005 post-apocalyptic horror film written and directed by George A. Romero; the fourth of Romero's six Living Dead movies, it is preceded by Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, and succeeded by Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. It was released in 2005, with a budget of $15–19 million, the highest in Romero's Dead series and has grossed $46 million.The story of Land of the Dead deals with a zombie assault on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where a feudal-like government exists. The survivors in the film have fled to the Golden Triangle area of downtown Pittsburgh. The region is protected on two sides by rivers and on the third by an electric barricade that survivors term "the Throat". Released in North America on June 24, 2005, Land of the Dead received mostly positive reviews from film critics.Martin (1978 film)
Martin (also known internationally as Wampyr) is a 1978 American psychological horror drama film written and directed by George A. Romero, and starring John Amplas. Its plot follows a troubled young man who believes himself to be a vampire. Shot in 1977, Martin was Romero's fifth feature film after The Crazies (1973).
Romero claimed that Martin was the favorite of all his films. The film is also notable as the first collaboration between George Romero and special effects artist Tom Savini. While a prosecution for obscenity did not result, the film was seized and confiscated in the UK under Section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 during the video nasty panic.Monkey Shines
Monkey Shines (also known as Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear) is a 1988 American horror film written and directed by George A. Romero, based on the novel by Michael Stewart. The film stars Jason Beghe as Allan Mann, an athlete who becomes a paralyzed quadriplegic and develops a bond with an intelligent service monkey named "Ella". The film, which was produced by Peter Grunwald and Charles Evans, was Romero's first studio film, and was distributed by Orion Pictures.Neda, Galicia
Neda is a municipality in province of A Coruña in the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain.
The town is on the English Way path of the Camino de Santiago. It is said that the father of George A. Romero was born here.Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 American independent horror film written, directed, photographed and edited by George A. Romero, co-written by John Russo, and starring Duane Jones and Judith O'Dea. The story follows seven people who are trapped in a rural farmhouse in western Pennsylvania, which is besieged by a large and growing group of "living dead" monsters.
The film was completed on a $114,000 budget and shot outside Pittsburgh, where it had its theatrical premiere on October 1, 1968. The film grossed $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally, earning over 250 times its budget. Night of the Living Dead has been regarded as a cult classic by film scholars and critics, despite its being heavily criticized upon its release for its explicit gore. It eventually garnered critical acclaim and has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, as a film deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".Night of the Living Dead led to five subsequent films between 1978 and 2010, also directed by Romero, and inspired two remakes; the most well-known remake was released in 1990, directed by Tom Savini.Scream! (Misfits song)
"Scream" is the ninth single by the horror punk band the Misfits, and the only single released from their 1999 album Famous Monsters. The music video for the song was directed by George A. Romero, famous for his Living Dead series of zombie films.Survival of the Dead
Survival of the Dead (also known as George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead) is a 2009 American horror film written and directed by George A. Romero and starring Alan van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh and Kathleen Munroe. It is the sixth entry in Romero's Night of the Living Dead series. The story follows a group of AWOL National Guardsmen who briefly appeared in Diary of the Dead.
The film proved to be the last film Romero directed before his death in 2017.The Crazies (1973 film)
The Crazies (also known as Code Name: Trixie) is a 1973 American science fiction horror film about the effects of the accidental release of a military biological weapon upon the inhabitants of a small American town. The film was written and directed by George A. Romero, and starred Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, and Harold Wayne Jones. A failure at the box office, it has since become a cult classic. A remake of the film was released in 2010.The Dark Half (film)
The Dark Half is a 1993 American horror film adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. The film was directed by George A. Romero and stars Timothy Hutton as Thad Beaumont and George Stark, Amy Madigan as Liz Beaumont, Michael Rooker as Sheriff Alan Pangborn, and Royal Dano in his final film.Tom Savini
Thomas Vincent Savini (born November 3, 1946) is an American actor, stunt performer, film director, and prosthetic makeup artist. He is known for his makeup and special effects work on many films directed by George A. Romero, including Martin, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Creepshow and Monkey Shines; he also created the special effects and makeup for many cult classics like Friday the 13th (parts I and IV), Maniac, The Burning, The Prowler and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
Savini directed Night of the Living Dead, the 1990 remake of Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead; his other directing work include three episodes of the TV show Tales from the Darkside and one segment in The Theatre Bizarre. As an actor and stuntman, he has appeared in films such as Martin, Dawn of the Dead, Knightriders, From Dusk till Dawn, Planet Terror, Machete, Django Unchained and Machete Kills.Two Evil Eyes
Two Evil Eyes (Italian: Due occhi diabolici) is a 1990 Italian-American horror film written and directed by Dario Argento and George A. Romero. The two filmmakers had previously worked together on the immensely popular Dawn of the Dead in 1978.
The film is split into two separate tales, both based largely on the works of Edgar Allan Poe: "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", directed by Romero and starring Adrienne Barbeau, showcases his traditional mix of horror with social commentary, especially capitalism; and "The Black Cat", directed by Argento and starring Harvey Keitel, which blends a number of Poe references into a new narrative. Both of the tales were filmed and take place in contemporary Pittsburgh.