Remembering Romero: George Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’


1428 Elm begins a week long look at the life and work of George A. Romero with ‘Night of the Living Dead. The icon may be gone, but legends never die.

It’s called Night of the Living Dead. And upon its debut, it began changing horror, and the landscape of cinematic storytelling. forever.

Dreams Become Reality

In the mid to late ’60s, George Romero is at a crossroads. Successfully producing commercials through The Latent Image, his company with co-founders John Russo, and Russell Streiner, Romero is dreaming of more. He’s dreaming of making a feature film. He’s dreaming of a film career. And soon, very soon, his dreams become reality.

The film Romero makes is Night of the Living Dead. With small capital but a desire to do something big, Romero slowly pieces together a timeless masterpiece. Working under the title “Monster Flick”, then “Night of the Flesh Eaters”, the film becomes a timeless masterpiece. A harrowing tale of a woman’s chance encounter with a safe house in a world overrun, the picture is still as relevant as ever.

— Courtesy of Image Ten

The Truth of Terror

More from George Romero

Starring Duane JonesJudith O’Dea and Karl Hardman, Night of the Living Dead’s casting is just one of the”ahead of it’s time “aspects. It’s insane Romero cast a black man as the lead in a ’60s film, a fact the filmmaker says is due to Jones being the best actor (still all the same). It says amazing things about Romero as a person (and I miss him more as I’m typing), and he’s better for it. He knew what people would say about casting an African American in the lead and he did it anyway — that’s the move of a true artist.

But what about its simple, yet effective, story? In the ’50s and ’60s, movies are designed to take you away for the real world. To whisk you away from life and  everyday problems. Hell, even “big bug” pictures are a response to nuclear war. But Night of the Living Dead is different. The film reminds you that the scariest threat in life is man. Your neighbor. A co-worker. A former “friend.”

And what about the film’s story structure? While not the first film to employ this, Night of the Living Dead starts with two people doing average stuff (putting flowers on a relative’s grave) before facing a intensely changing world during. Since Night, many stories can be seen borrowing this concept.

A Tale Still Telling

A dementedly inventive story of survival in a emerging flesh-eating world, it’s easy to overlook Night of the Living Dead’s impact. AMC’s The Walking Dead and Capcom’s Resident Evil both owe everything to Romero’s debut feature. In fact, every piece of zombie pop culture owes a little to the film. And if that’s not the definition of impact, I don’t know what is.

Yesterday, George Romero left this earth. A man of many classics, the film legend lost his battle with lung cancer at age 77. Leaving behind three kids, and a massive horror family, Romero’s legacy is unlike any in the history of artistry. He’s a Michelangelo with the page. A Mozart with the camera. A trendsetter and genre creator, with thick, black rim, glasses. A man I look up too and will miss for many years to come.

Next: RIP George A. Romero: Remembering the Prince of Pittsburgh

Rest In Peace George Romero. From all of us at 1428 Elm,

Night of the Living Dead

is a masterpiece. We thank you.

Love ‘Night of the Living Dead’? Missing George Romero? Let the other Zombies know what you think in the comment section below.