George A. Romero, the legendary filmmaker behind Night of the Living Dead and its sequels, has died from lung cancer aged 77.
Considered by many as the godfather of the zombie genre, Romero’s huge influence can be seen throughout film, television and video games.
His series of Dead movies has become an iconic part of popular culture, while the casting of African-American actor Duane Jones in the lead role of 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead was praised. In a decade which saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, the fate of Jones’ lead character Ben – killed not by the undead but by a posse of armed white men – sticks in the mind despite the film’s zombie violence.
Romero would revisit his world of zombies numerous times throughout his career as the series received sequels, remakes and spin-offs.
Among those to have cited Romero as a key influence are The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, fellow horror filmmaker John Carpenter and Cornetto trilogy director Edgar Wright.
Call of Duty fans may remember his playable cameo in Black Ops’ Call of the Dead zombie expansion, where he starred alongside Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund, The Walking Dead’s Michael Rooker, Buffy’s Sarah Michelle Gellar and genre legend Danny Trejo.
Numerous names in film and video games have paid tribute to Romero and his legacy:
This film has changed my life when I was 15, in Spring. Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/xEiqfoef7D
— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) July 17, 2017
RIP George Romero… as a student I had the privilege of briefly working with you. The Last of Us wouldn’t exist without your inspiration.
— Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) July 16, 2017
— 神谷英樹 Hideki Kamiya (@PG_kamiya) July 16, 2017
RIP George Romero. thank you for the Zombies!
— John Smedley (@j_smedley) July 16, 2017
George Romero’s movies gave me nightmares that I still have today. Was glad to be able to thank him for that. RIP pic.twitter.com/lUFGeQV5Eu
— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) July 16, 2017
Romero has passed away. Hard to find words right now. The loss is so enormous.
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) July 16, 2017
No one mined the zombie metaphor like Romero. (After he invented it.) No one has come close. RIP & thank you to a Great Film Artist. pic.twitter.com/5RqD8Q8GdE
— Joss Whedon (@joss) July 16, 2017
Sad to hear my favorite collaborator–and good old friend–George Romero has died. George, there will never be another like you.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) July 16, 2017