George Andrew Romero (February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017) was an American director, writer, editor and actor. He was best known for his "Living Dead" series, a tetralogy of horror films (with a fifth installment in production as of October 2006) featuring a zombie apocalypse theme and a commentary on modern society.
He was born in New York City to a Cuban American father and a Lithuanian-American mother. Romero attended Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating with a BA, he began his career shooting short films and commercials. One of his early commercial films, a segment for Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, in which Mr. Rogers underwent a tonsillectomy, inspired Romero to go into the horror film business. He and friends formed Image Ten Productions in the late 1960s, and they chipped in roughly $10,000 apiece to produce what became one of the most celebrated horror films of all time: Night of the Living Dead (1968). The movie, directed by Romero and co-written with John A. Russo, became a cult classic and a defining moment for modern horror cinema. Romero updated his original screenplay and executive produced the remake of Night of the Living Dead directed by Tom Savini for Columbia / Tristar in 1990.
Romero's films during the years after 1968's Night of the Living Dead were less popular: There's Always Vanilla (1971), Jack's Wife / Season of the Witch (1972) and The Crazies (1973). Though not as acclaimed as Night of the Living Dead or some of his later work, these films have his signature social commentary while dealing with primarily horror-related issues at the microscopic level. The Crazies, dealing with a biospill that induces an epidemic of homicidal madness, and the critically acclaimed arthouse success Martin (1977), a film that strikingly deconstructs the vampire myth, were the two standout efforts during this period. Like almost all of his films, they were shot in or around Romero's favorite city of Pittsburgh.
In 1978, Romero returned to the zombie genre with Dawn of the Dead (1978). Shot on a budget of just $500,000 (the producers gave a false figure of $1.5 million to help their negotating position with distributors), the film earned over $55 million worldwide and was named one of the top cult films by Entertainment Weekly in 2003. Romero made a third entry in his "Dead Series" with Day of the Dead (1985), which was less popular at the box office, but has since gone on to gain a cult following thanks to VHS and DVD releases.
During this period, Romero also made Knightriders (1981), another festival favorite about a group of modern-day jousters who reenact tournaments on motorcycles, and the successful Creepshow (1982), written by Stephen King, an anthology of tongue-in-cheek tales modeled after 1950s horror comics.
Throughout the latter half of the 1980s and 90s, Romero made various films, including Monkey Shines (1988) about a killer helper monkey, Two Evil Eyes (Wikipedia:1990 in film:1990), an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation in collaboration with Dario Argento, the Stephen King adaptation The Dark Half (1992) and Bruiser (2000), about a man whose face becomes a blank mask.
In 1998, Romero returned to the horror scene, this time with a commercial. He directed the live action commercial shot (promoting the videogame Resident Evil 2) which was shot in Tokyo, Japan. The 30-second advertisement was live action and featured the game's two main characters, Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, fighting a horde of zombies while in Raccoon City's Police Station. The project was a natural for Romero, as the Resident Evil series has been heavily influenced by Romero's "Dead" projects. The commercial was rather popular and was released in the weeks before the game's actual release, although a contract dispute prevented the commercial from being shown outside Japan. Capcom was so impressed with Romero's work, it was strongly indicated that Romero would direct the first Resident Evil film. He initially declined, stating in an interview, "I don't wanna make another film with zombies in it, and I couldn't make a movie based on something that ain't mine", although in later years he reconsidered and wrote a script for the first movie. While many were impressed with the script (which garnered positive reviews), it was eventually rejected in favor of Paul W.S. Anderson's treatment.
Universal Studios produced and released a remake of Dawn of the Dead in 2004, with which Romero was not involved (though he expressed admiration for the Zack Snyder film in a graphic novel adaptation of the remake). Later that year, Romero kicked off the DC Comics title Toe Tags with a six-issue miniseries titled The Death of Death. Based on an unused script that Romero had previously written as a sequel to his "Dead Trilogy", the comic miniseries concerns Damien, an intelligent zombie who remembers his former life, struggling to find his identity as he battles armies of both the living and the dead. Typical of a Romero zombie tale, the miniseries includes ample supply of both gore and social commentary (dealing particularly here with corporate greed and terrorism - ideas he would also explore in his next film in the series, Land of the Dead). Romero has stated that the miniseries is set in the same kind of world as his "Dead" films, but featured other locales besides Pittsburgh, where the majority of his films take place.
Romero, completed a fourth "Dead" movie, Land of the Dead (formerly known as Dead Reckoning), in Toronto, Ontario, with a $16 million production budget (the highest of the four 'dead' movies). Actors Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento and John Leguizamo star in the film. It was released on June 24, 2005 to generally positive reviews.
Some critics have seen social commentary in much of Romero's work. They view Night of the Living Dead as a film made in reaction to the turbulent 1960s, Dawn of the Dead as a satire on consumerism, Day of the Dead as a study of the conflict between science and the military, and Land of the Dead as an examination of class conflict.
Romero is married to Christine Forrest, whom he met on the set of Season of the Witch. They have two children together. Romero lives in Toronto, Canada, and emigrated to Canada. His emigration was celebrated by a special edition zombie walk to celebrate it, and coincided with the screening of Survival of the Dead at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.
Current and future projects
In June 2006, horror icon George Romero began his next project, called Zombisodes. Broadcast on the web, they are a combination of a series of "Making of" shorts and story expansion detailing the work behind the film George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead. Shooting began in Toronto in July 2006.
In August 2006, The Hollywood Reporter made two announcements about Romero, the first being that he will write and direct a film based on a short story by Koji Suzuki, author of Ring and Dark Water, called Solitary Isle and the second announcement pertaining to his signing on to write and direct George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead, which will follow a group of college students making a horror movie in the woods, who stumble on a real zombie uprising. When the onslaught begins, they seize the moment as any good film students would, capturing the undead in a "cinema verite" style that causes more than the usual production headaches. The film will be independently financed, making it the first indie zombie film Romero has done in years.
In early October 2006, rumors circulated that Romero had collapsed and was rushed to an area hospital, but Romero was well enough to begin shooting Diary of the Dead in mid-October. Near the end of October he gave an on-set interview to Rue Morgue columnist Chris Alexander.
- Night of the Living Dead (1968)
- There's Always Vanilla (1971)
- The Crazies (1973)
- Jack's Wife / Season of the Witch (1973)
- The Winners (1973, TV Series)
- O. J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose (1974)
- Martin (1977)
- Dawn of the Dead (1978)
- Knightriders (1981)
- Creepshow (1982)
- Tales from the Darkside (1984, TV Series)
- Day of the Dead (1985)
- Monkey Shines (1988)
- Two Evil Eyes (1990)
- The Dark Half (1993)
- Bruiser (2000)
- Land of the Dead (2005)
- Diary of the Dead (2007)
- From A Buick 8 (2007}
- Survival of the Dead (2009)
Books / Comics
- Dawn of the Dead (with Susan Sparrow; movie tie-in), 1979
- Martin (with Susan Sparrow; movie tie-in), 1984
- Toe Tags #1-6 (The Death of Death; DC Comics), 2004 - 2005
- Romero ranked his top ten films of all time for the 2002 Sight & Sound Greatest Films Poll (2002). They are The Brothers Karamazov, Casablanca, Dr. Strangelove, High Noon, King Solomon's Mines (1950), North by Northwest, The Quiet Man, Repulsion, Touch of Evil and The Tales of Hoffman. (Romero listed the films in alphabetical order, with special placement given to The Tales of Hoffman, which he cites as "my favourite film of all time; the movie that made me want to make movies.")
- Romero collaborated with the game company Hip Interactive in creating a game called City of the Dead, but the game was cancelled midway due to the financial problems of the company.
- ↑ http://www.genreonline.net/GENRE_ONLINE_Interview_George_Romero.html
- ↑ Movies.about.com article
- ↑ Mr. Rogers underwent a tonsillectomy
- ↑ Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005)
- ↑ newsarama.com/forums/showthread.php
- ↑ George A. Romero Interview
- ↑ George A. Romero's Next Project
- ↑ aintitcool.com
- ↑ cinescape
- ↑ aintitcool.com
- ↑ Template:Cite web
- ↑ Diary of the Dead at the Internet Movie Database
- ↑ Template:Cite web
- ↑ Template:Cite web
- ↑ BFI - Sight & Sound Top Ten Poll 2002
- Template:Imdb name
- New York Times bio
- Interviewed by Bizarre magazine
- An interview with master horror director, George A. Romero by Uri Lessing and Dan Lybarger
- Interview by Gabriel Ricard
- Simon Pegg interviews George A. Romero
- Homepage of the Dead - The Ultimate GAR Dead Movies Fan Site
- Quadrilogy of the dead Fansite about the Dead Tetralogy.
- Night of the Living Dead — Download both HD (Blue Ray) and standard version available for free. (Copyright is public domain)
- Nihilism and the Walking Dead - Article detailing how Romero's "Dead trilogy" conveys a struggle between active and passive nihilism.
- George A. Romero at ZMDb.org
- George Romero interview