Earlier this week, the world of horror lost one if its defining directors, with George Romero passing away at the age of 77 after a battle with lung cancer.
To many, Romero cemented his legacy in Hollywood with his work in the zombie genre, which kicked off with Night of the Living Dead. Prior to the 1968 film, the concept of the "zombie" had been closely linked to the practice of Voodoo, often resulting in varying definitions of what the beings were capable of. Sometimes zombies were alive but in a trance, other times were undead slaves, and other times were scientific abominations.
Typically referred to as "ghouls" in the original film, the majority of zombies seen in film followed Romero's archetype, existing as the undead that have come back to life, only to slowly stumble around and feast for human flesh.
The director's impact on the zombie genre can be felt to this day, because if it wasn't for Romero's series of zombie films, we'd never get things like Resident Evil, The Walking Dead, or 28 Days Later.
Although he might be considered the modern master of the zombie film, Romero has crafted many compelling horror tales that have nothing to do with the living undead, which not all movie fans are familiar with.
Scroll down to see more of the filmmaker's amazing projects in celebration of the legacy he left behind.
The Crazies (1973)
With 2002's 28 Days Later, many film fans thought Danny Boyle was helping "re-invent" the idea of the zombie movie, explaining that a man-made virus was the reason that seemingly normal humans went into unstoppable frenzies of rage. Despite the film ushering a new era of fast zombies, it wasn't that new of a concept, as Romero had done almost the exact same thing 30 years earlier.
Although Boyle's film might have been more sprawling, covering almost all of London, Romero's The Crazies showed a small Pennsylvania town in which a series of violent crimes have been occurring. The military shows up to intervene, as they were aware of one of their pieces of technology crashing into the local water supply, which ended with the result of the townspeople giving in to their more primal instincts.
Whether it was zombies or humans overcome by rage, Romero was clearly fascinated by what would happen to society in some of the worst conditions imaginable, with The Crazies being a compelling twist on his previous zombie story.prevnext
With Night of the Living Dead, Romero took the previously seen concept of zombies and put his own spin on it, and ten years later, the filmmaker found success with the same approach to well-known vampire lore in Martin.
A young man in Pittsburgh has become overwhelmed by his bloodlust, making him think he could be a vampire. He regularly murders young women and drinks their blood, thanks to his uncle convincing him he was a vampire from a young age. Despite claiming to be a vampire, however, Martin never deals with the consequences of classic myths, like the reaction to daylight, crosses, or garlic, with Martin claiming the magical elements are the work of fantasy.
What ultimately makes Martin so compelling is the ambiguity over whether or not Martin truly is a vampire or if the power of suggestion warped his mind at a young age. The character doesn't demonstrate any of the physical traits attached with the monsters, so the audience is left to their own judgment on whether this is the story of a different kind of vampire or if Martin just believes he is one, when he's really just a serial killer.
The film is so effective that Romero himself has stated it was his personal favorite film that he directed.prevnext
To bring Creepshow to life, Romero, arguably one of the best directors in horror at the time, teamed up with Stephen King, one of the most exciting horror authors at the time, to pay their respects to classic EC horror comics with this anthology of short tales of terror.
Honoring series like Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror, Creepshow's disconnected stories paid respect to the stories found within those comics, which combined humor with horror, often resulting in a cruelly ironic fate for the nefarious lead characters. Ranging from monstrous creatures discovered in an old crate to the spirits of jilted lovers returning from the grave, the film covered a wide range of supernatural stories, with each including Romero and King's signature look and wit.
Far from the first horror anthology that collected various tales, many would argue that Creepshow helped perfect the formula, which resulted in a sequel and multiple TV series that modeled themselves after this film's structure and tone.prevnext
Tales from the Darkside (1984-1988)
The success of Creepshow proved that audiences were interested in seeing a series of short but sweet tales of terror. The Twilight Zone had proven the successful concept of serialized stories of horror and science fiction, but with the show having been off the air for 20 years, Romero was able to fill the void by serving as the executive producer of this TV series.
Much like Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside featured all manner of horror tales with a similar style and wit, albeit with toned down violence and language to make the stories suitable for television. When the series started becoming more and more popular, Steven Spielberg tried to follow in Romero's footsteps with the anthology series Amazing Stories, which only ran for two seasons.0comments
Following the end of the series, Tales from the Crypt debuted in 1989, which became a staple in the world of horror, with Tales from the Darkside helping pave the way for the show hosted by the Cryptkeeper.
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