Horror Movie Maestro George A. Romero Dies, Aged 77

George A. Romero

A master of genre filmmaking, an inspiration for legions of those who would follow him and a genuinely humble, gentle, thoughtful man has left us. George A. Romero was 77.

George Andrew Romero was born in New York City in 1940. He fostered a love of film early, and would regularly ride in to Manhattan to rent film reels he could watch at home. For his education, he attended Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, and after graduation he dived into filmmaking, shooting short films and adverts. An early gig was working on classic US kids' series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, for which Romero filmed a segment in which the titular character had his tonsils removed.

He made his name with his first film, 1968's Night Of The Living Dead, co-written with John A. Russo and shot at such a low budget that he ended up working many of the jobs on the set himself. It became an instant classic and launched practically its own sub-genre of horror. He followed that with a few films that were less successful, but a few stand out including The Crazies and Martin. In 1978 came Dawn Of The Dead, another entry in his zombie franchise and, itself followed by Day Of The Dead.

Other movies included Creepshow, Monkey Shines, Bruiser, Land Of The Dead and Diary Of The Dead. His films have been endlessly remade and copied, and he became the inspiration for a raft of other directors, writers and performers.

Romero famously found the meaning in the monsters and his movies showed depth and thought, avoiding basic gore and terror. “I grew up on these slow-moving-but-you-can’t-stop-them creatures, where you’ve got to find the Achilles’ heel, or in this case, the Achilles’ brain,” Romero told the LA Times in 2005. "In the remake they’re just dervishes, you don’t recognize any of them, there’s nothing to characterize them... But I like to give even incidental zombies a bit of identification. I just think it’s a nice reminder that they’re us. They walked out of one life and into this."

“Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero passed away on Sunday, July 16, listening to the score of The Quiet Man, one of his all-time favorite films, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero at his side,” said a statement from his family. "He died peacefully in his sleep, following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer, and leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time."

Empire's team was lucky enough to have Romero as a guest on the Empire Podcast a few years ago, and you can find that below.