Legendary horror director George Romero died over the weekend, leaving behind a remarkable body of work—one that kickstarted this entire zombie thing, for starters, but one that also paved the way for countless independent filmmakers. Today, the internet is full of remembrances, but I'm inclined to point you toward this piece by Sean of the Dead director Edgar Wright—who, along with Shaun star Simon Pegg, cameoed in Romero's Land of the Dead.
The day after we shot our cameo, I do remember something else that George said. We had coffee in a Toronto hotel with him and he asked me and Simon what we were doing next. I replied that we were making a police action comedy. ‘Oh, not a horror, then?’ he replied, ‘So you’re getting out.’
This was a telling statement, as there was always the sense that George had interests in film that stretched beyond the realm of horror. But even if he was pigeonholed somewhat in the genre realm, one of the reasons that his work resonates still is because of fierce intelligence and humour behind it. His zombie films alone are the work of a major satirist, being highly vivid socio-political metaphors and sometimes better records of the years in which they were made than countless serious dramas. (Via.)
Just a few months ago, I wrote about Romero's collaboration with Stephen King, Creepshow; in my time at the Mercury, I've covered more than a few Romero movies. (Day of the Dead or Dawn of the Dead, depending on my mood, is probably what I'd pick as a favorite.) But there seems no better way to remember Romero than to look back at the film that started it all—Night of the Living Dead, a groundbreaking classic that's long since passed into the public domain, both legally and psychologically.