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Filmmaker George A. Romero has created such classic horror films as Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.
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The reigning champion of zombie films, George A. Romero was born on February 4, 1940, in New York City. He started out making commercials and short films before moving on to feature films. In his movies, including Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Dead, he combines horror with social commentary and satire.
"If one horror film hits, everyone says, 'Let's go make a horror film.' It's the genre that never dies."
"I also have always liked the monster within idea. I like the zombies being us. Zombies are the blue-collar monsters."
The son of a commercial artist, George Andrew Romero loved watching movies growing up. The Tales of Hoffman (1951), a film adaptation of an opera, proved to be an early influence. He borrowed the film numerous times as a teen, watching it using a projector at home. Romero once said that only one other person took this movie out as much as he did. The other fan turned out to be Martin Scorsese.
At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Romero studied the arts. He was interested in art, theater and design, as well as film. At the beginning of his career, Romero made short films and commercials. One of his early breaks was making educational shorts for the PBS children's series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
With 1968's Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero established himself as the king of all zombie movies. In this pivotal black-and-white horror film, a group of people seek refuge inside an old farmhouse to escape the clutches of flesh-eating zombies. The recently deceased had been brought back to life by some type of radiation. Eventually becoming a cult classic, the film made waves with its graphic violence. Others saw the movie as commentary about the modern family and society.
Romero once said that the zombies "don't particularly represent anything except a new society threatening to take over, and in this case devouring, literally, the old." And in the late 1960s, it was traditional American society trying to battle against the counterculture movement. It became part of his trademark style to mix horror, satire, and social commentary into his films.
Romero tried to branch out beyond zombies, but his efforts met with little success. There's Always Vanilla (1972), Hungry Wives (1973), and The Crazies (1973) proved to be disappointments. In 1978, Romero returned to the familiar conflict of humans versus zombies in Dawn of the Dead. This time around, the zombies pursue a group of people into a shopping mall. Romero uses the movie as a way to deliver a critique of the voracious consumerism of the day. For many critics, this is the best film in the series.
Romero's career continued on an uneven path, experiencing some successes and some disappointments. His biker film Knightriders (1981), with a young Ed Harris in a featured role, proved to be a flop. Romero fared better with he teamed up with author Stephen King for the film Creepshow (1982) modeled after the horror comics of the 1950s. The film scared audiences with five different segments. While not critically acclaimed, it did well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel, 1987's Creepshow 2.
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