George Romero, Father of the Zombie Movie, Dies at 77


“I think that was largely what made the film noticeable,” he said.

Mr. Romero went on to add installments to the “Dead” series, including “Dawn of the Dead” (1979) and “Day of the Dead” (1985). The film critic Roger Ebert called “Dawn of the Dead” “one of the best horror films ever made.’’

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George A. Romero in an undated photo.

Mr. Romero’s “Land of the Dead” in 2005 was his largest-budget studio-backed film, and became one of his biggest box-office successes.

Mr. Romero returned to independent filmmaking with “Diary of the Dead” (2008), and he described it as one that “comes from my heart.”

“It’s not a sequel or a remake. It’s a whole new beginning for the dead,” Mr. Romero said, according to a biography provided by Peter Grunwald, a film producer who worked on several of Mr. Romero’s movies.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for the zombies,” he told NPR. “They are multipurpose, you can’t really get angry at them, they have no hidden agendas, they are what they are. I sympathize with them.”

Most recently, Mr. Romero tried his hand at comic books, creating “The Empire of the Dead” series starting in 2014, published by Marvel, which combines zombies and vampires.

“I’m dabbling a little bit, mixing genres and metaphors,” he said, adding that he likes to incorporate political satire in his works, and that it is a bigger part of the comic.

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Duane Jones in “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), a black-and-white zombie shocker that was a horror movie game-changer and was part of the inspiration for Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.”

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Continental Distributing Inc., via Photofest

About adding vampires to his repertoire, Mr. Romero said that he has always seen them as quite villainous.

“I grew up on the famous monsters of film land, so to me they’ve just been the villains all along. There are a few sort of ‘O.K.’ vampires in the story, but most of them are the oppressors,” he said.

He also felt the need to move beyond zombies, he said, after the film “Zombieland” came out in 2009.

“All of a sudden came ‘Zombieland,’” he said, which was one of the first zombie films to become a major blockbuster hit. “You know, gosh, all of a sudden, you can’t make a little zombie film anymore,” he said.

His other films include “Knightriders” (1981), “Creepshow” (1982) and “Bruiser” (2001).

George Andrew Romero was born on February 4, 1940, in the Bronx. He grew up a fan of classic movie monsters, and told NPR he did not expect to create a movement with his film.

“All I did was I took them out of ‘exotica’ and I made them the neighbors,” he said.

Mr. Romero graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie Mellon University), where he had studied graphic arts, in 1960. He learned the film business working on the sets of movies.

He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero; his daughter, Tina; and two sons, Andrew and Cameron.

Correction: July 18, 2017

An obituary on Monday about the filmmaker George A. Romero misstated the name of the university from which he graduated in 1960. It was the Carnegie Institute of Technology — not Carnegie Mellon University, which was established in 1967 when the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research.

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