George Andrew Romero (February 4, 1940 - July 16, 2017) was an American-Canadian director, writer, editor and actor.
History[edit | edit source]
Early Life[edit | edit source]
George Andrew Romero was born on February 4, 1940 in the New York City borough of the Bronx. He was the son of Lithuanian mother named Ann and commercial artist George Romero, who moved from Spain to Cuba as a child. His father was born in A Coruna, with his family coming from the town of Neda, Spain. However, Romero once described his father as of Castilian origin.
Romero, rasied in the Bronx, would frequently ride the subway into Manhattan to rent film reels to view at his house. He attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Career[edit | edit source]
He didn't seek to kick start the golden age of horror. He just wanted to show he could make a movie and maybe make a buck or two.
In 1968 friends from a production company called "The latent image" (which had been turning a profit in Pittsburgh making commercials) made the brave choice of throwing their hat into the film production ring. "Image Ten" was born.
From a short allegory that was one part Richard Matheson's "I am Legend", one part E.C. comics and one part social commentary half a script was made by Romero and then polished up by his long time friend John Russo. Night of the Living Dead was the end result.
Due to factors that were never intentional, the film gained critical acclaim. The two most notable being the casting of a black lead actor (Duane Jones), which was because simply he was the best actor to try for the part, and shooting in black and white, which was budgetary and unheard of in 1968.
Night of the Living Dead cost $114,000 to produce, but it went on to gross millions. Unfortunately due to some legal loopholes those millions never came back to George Romero and Image Ten, and it remains in public domain to this very day.
Romero shunned any attempt at going mainstream through the 70's and all of his films remained independent Pittsburgh productions. it wasn't until Dario Argento offered to put up enough money that he moved to the next step and cemented himself in the minds of horror fans everywhere. Dawn of the Dead, the sequel to Night of the Living Dead, was everything the first was but now with a lot more gore (thanks to his infamous special effects man Tom Savini). The public ate it up and Romero was added to a growing list of horror celebrities that the now growing horror fandom was demanding.
With the growing popularity of horror films in the 80's Romero was put on the short list for go-to, fan and critic favorite directors, money however seemed to have little temptation to Romero as he remained true to his indie roots in the 80's bringing us Knightriders, collaborating with Stephen King to bring the E.C. comic's homage Creepshow to life, a third and even bloodier Dead film- Day of the Dead, and Monkey Shines.
It was also in the 80's that Romero produced the popular television show "tales from the Darkside" that was again a homage to his favorite comic as a child, tales from the crypt. Past episodes can still be seen today in syndication.
The 90's were not so kind to Romero. The studio system and Romero proved to be oil and water. The 1993 film the The Dark Half was supposed to be another classic teaming of Romero and Stephen King but it ended up a battle of wills between Romero and the studio, a battle that left it's mark.
Romero dropped out of sight following the The Dark Half and laid dormant through the 90's. Attached to various progects that never fully developed Romero remained behind the scenes as the popularity of horror also diminished. It wasn't until a Japanese video game called "Bio-hazard" (Resident Evil) did interest begin to rise again in George Romero. As they say you just cant keep a good zombie down.
Thanks in part to a new generation finding love for zombies through the Resident Evil/bio-hazard video game series, and a company called Anchor Bay releasing previously hard to find Romero movies again on VHS and DVD popularity in Romero was again at a peak. After a surprisingly successful remake of Dawn of the Dead, Universal offerd Romero a shot at making a fourth film in his now very successful Dead franchise.
The 2005 film Land of the Dead continued the adventures of Romero's zombies in a world that was a haunting parallel and stab at the current gap between rich and poor. And it was also a success. Romero parlayed that success into his return to the indy film making world. He currently is finishing work on the 5th instalment of his Dead franchise completely free of studio control in Canada.
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Romero was married three times. In 1971, he married a woman named Nancy and they got a divorce seven years later in 1978. They had a son together named Cameron. Romero met actress Christine Forrest on the set of Season of the Witch (1973) in 1971. In 1980, they married and they divorced in 2010. They had one son and one daughter together, Andrew and Tina. While filming Land of the Dead, he met Suzanne Desrocher, and they married at Martha's Vineyard in September 2011.
Death[edit | edit source]
On July 16, 2017, Romero sadly passed away in his sleep at age 77 from lung cancer. He died while listening to the music of The Quiet Man (1973), one of his all-time favorite films.
Filmography[edit | edit source]
- Night of the Living Dead (1968) : Writer, Director
- There's always vanilla (1971):Director
- Season of the Witch (1973): Writer, Director
- The Crazies (1973) : Writer, Director
- Martin (1977) :Writer, Director
- Dawn of the Dead (1978) : Writer, Director
- Knightriders (1981) : Writer, Director
- Creepshow (1982) : Director
- Day of the Dead (1985): Writer, Director
- Monkey Shines (1988) : writer, Director
- Two Evil Eyes (1990)-(segment "The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar")- Writer, Director
- The Dark Half (1993) : writer, Director
- Bruiser (2000) : Writer, Director
- Land of the Dead (2005): Writer, Director
- Diary of the Dead (2007): Writer, Director
- Survival of the Dead (2009): Writer, Director