With the premier of the new show called the Walking Dead (which will be discussed more in depth in an upcoming post) on AMC (American Movie Classics) last night, zombies are showing no signs of slowing down in popularity. From comics to books to videogames to movies, zombies have proven to be a force to be reckoned with. But where did the modern version of this modern day phenomenon come from? The answer: one George A. Romero.
George Romero introduced the modern day zombie as we know it with a movie called Night of the Living Dead (1968).
The movie became an instant classic. What separated George from a lot of his contemporaries was that while on the surface his movies were just standard horror fair, underneath there was a deeper context and social message. He also wanted to show that it was humans not the zombies who were the true monsters themselves with how they treated each other. And finally he was the first to present gore as we know it today. Where horror films before would have the most wicked moments implied off camera, Romero made sure people saw it and up close. His gore brought a realism and intensity to the genre that had never been done or seen before. George followed Night of the Living Dead with Dawn of the Dead (1978), another instant classic.
This time he presented his zombie creations in color. He also amped up the gore. But still as proven to be his trademark, underneath all the scares and bloodshed was a message about society. He next followed this up with Day of the Dead (1985), and again carried on his trademarks of amping up gritty realism in the gore and societal messages.
However, unlike his first two films, this was the first one to not be embraced as an instant classic. Time has, however, proven to be kind to this movie with Romero, in fact, himself stating that this is his favorite of all his “Dead” films. He next followed this up with Land of the Dead (2005), which was made as the closing chapter on the now infamous quadrilogy of “Dead” Films.
However, like his creations, sleeping corpses couldn’t die and Romero decided to reboot the franchise with Diary of the Dead in 2007
and Survival of the Dead in 2009.
George Romero’s legacy is set. With all the imitators out there and continued popularity of zombies in all media, the groundwork he laid several decades ago shows no waning. Whether he makes any more “Dead” movies or not, no one can dispute that George A. Romero is The King of the Zombies.
– Brian S.