Venerated cult-favourite director George A Romero has died at the age of 77, sparking an outpouring of sorrow from contemporaries and fans alike.
Romero, who is widely regarded as the godfather of the modern zombie-film genre — thanks to his seminal films Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and Dawn Of The Dead (1978), as well as later entries in the Dead franchise — passed away in his sleep on Sunday following a "brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer", according to the LA Times.
Born in New York in 1940, Romero got his start behind the camera shooting commercials and short films before making his feature debut with Night Of The Living Dead, which has endured as a cult classic for half a century and is regarded as the progenitor film for the modern zombie canon that has blossomed in its wake.
Although Romero directed other films, such as 1978 vampire flick Martin, 1982's Creepshow and 1988's Monkey Shines, his career was defined by his trailblazing work with the shambling undead.
His inescapable influence has been felt in countless imitators, derivatives and spiritual successors ever since, including AMC's hit series The Walking Dead and CW favourite iZombie (not to mention the comics that inspired both) as well as Naughty Dog's hugely successful The Last Of Us.
He laid down many of the "rules" for fictional zombies that remain embedded in popular culture to this day, and remained adamant throughout his career that zombies should not run — a point of contention for him with respect to 2004's otherwise surprisingly well-regarded remake of Dawn Of The Dead, directed by Guardians Of The Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn.
Sadness at the news of his passing has been swift to spread online, with fellow creators and notable figures including Gunn, Stephen King, Patton Oswalt, John Carpenter, Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon, Guillermo Del Toro, writer and game developer Zoe Quinn, Psych actor James Roday, comics writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Greg Pak, comedian and writer Mike Drucker, writer and actor Mark Gatiss, director Eli Roth, actress Barbara Crampton, iZombie actor Rahul Kohli, Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani, The Last Of Us writer Neil Druckmann, Jerry Only of The Misfits, author Jennifer L Armentrout and more.
See a selection of statements, and watch a short Vice interview with Romero about the film that started it all, below.
RIP #GeorgeRomero. You made me want to make movies, and helped me to find meaning in monsters. Thank you. I love you.— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 16, 2017
I just wrote this on Facebook concerning the passing of George Romero, but I thought I'd share it here as well. pic.twitter.com/r1qKM6GSka— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 16, 2017
Sad to hear my favorite collaborator--and good old friend--George Romero has died. George, there will never be another like you.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) July 16, 2017
RIP George Romero :( his movies meant a lot to me growing up as a weird horror nerd https://t.co/uxo4mFPW60— dong perignon (@UnburntWitch) July 16, 2017
RIP George Romero. Zombies, yes. But...go watch MARTIN. Teenage isolation mutated into vampirism. Online culture as plague.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) July 16, 2017
George Romero was a great director, the father of modern horror movies. He was my friend and I will miss him. Rest in peace, George.— John Carpenter (@TheHorrorMaster) July 16, 2017
Without George Romero, about 1/3 of nerd culture things wouldn't exist. He re-invented zombies and now they seem so obvious. RIP. Damn.— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) July 16, 2017
RIP George Romero- a true master.— Jimmy Palmiotti (@jpalmiotti) July 16, 2017
RIP, George Romero. Your legacy is chiseled in stone forever and I only wish you could have lived to see the real zombie apocalypse.— James Roday (@JamesRoday) July 16, 2017
Rest in peace, George Romero, father of a genre, an industry, and a million wonderful nightmares.— Greg Pak (@gregpak) July 16, 2017
A fond farewell to charming, legendary zombie king George Romero. 'Martin' is one of my favourite horrors. An honour to have met him. RIP pic.twitter.com/8ZIwjxFrmx— Mark Gatiss (@Markgatiss) July 16, 2017
George Romero was an icon who created a cinematic universe of loosely affiliated sequels forty years before that was a thing— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) July 16, 2017
RIP to a genius
Just heard the news about George Romero. Hard to quantify how much he inspired me & what he did for cinema. Condolences to his family.— Eli Roth (@eliroth) July 16, 2017
RIP George Romero. Your groundbreaking contributions to the genre are unparrelled. We will miss you and are made better for your brilliance pic.twitter.com/zYPn3GRfXw— Barbara Crampton (@barbaracrampton) July 16, 2017
Damn...rest in peace, George Romero. Every single zombie show/film owes you their gratitude for paving the way in this genre. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/7Z1jYrhXos— Rahul Kohli (@RahulKohli13) July 16, 2017
R.I.P. George Romero. A true legend. Started a new genre on his own. Who else can claim that?— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) July 16, 2017
Romero has passed away. Hard to find words right now. The loss is so enormous.— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) July 16, 2017
No one mined the zombie metaphor like Romero. (After he invented it.) No one has come close. RIP & thank you to a Great Film Artist. pic.twitter.com/5RqD8Q8GdE— Joss Whedon (@joss) July 16, 2017
RIP George Romero... as a student I had the privilege of briefly working with you. The Last of Us wouldn't exist without your inspiration.— Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) July 16, 2017