Sad news out of Hollywood today, as one of the most revered horror film directors of the modern era has passed away.
It was reported this afternoon that George A. Romero, director of the Night Of the Living Dead series and creator of the zombie film genre, has died unexpectedly at the age of 77.
Romero’s death was confirmed by his longtime manager, Chris Roe.
“Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero passed away on Sunday July 16, listening to the score of ‘The Quiet Man,’ one of his all-time favorite films, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero at his side,” read a statement issued by Roe.
“He died peacefully in his sleep, following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer, and leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time.”
Romero rose to fame in the late ’60s, following the surprise success of his first film, Night Of the Living Dead.
The movie spawned five sequels, including the most recent installment, 2009’s Suvival Of the Dead.
Romero’s knack for blending scares and social commentary resulted in an entirely new subgenre and helped horror films to gain increased respect from both critics and mainstream audiences.
As many are pointing out today, it’s impossible to overstate Romero’s impact on popular culture.
He’s been cited as a major influence by such beloved genre auteurs as Stephen King and Joss Whedon, and though he publicly expressed his disdain for the series, there would be no Walking Dead franchise were it not for the aesthetic pioneered by Romero.
In addition to his wildly popular zombie films, Romero has received acclaim for helming such horror films as Season Of the Witch, Martin, and The Crazies.
Tributes to Romero from some of the biggest names in the industry have been pouring in on social media:
“Sad to hear my favorite collaborator–and good old friend–George Romero has died. George, there will never be another like you,” Stephen King wrote.
“RIP George Romero. Zombies, yes. But…go watch MARTIN. Teenage isolation mutated into vampirism. Online culture as plague” tweeted Patton Oswalt.
“Rest In Peace George Romero. A great artist, innovator and creator. He changed everything,” Anthony Bourdain commented.
Romero is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and two children.