Father of the modern zombie George A. Romero dies at 77

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Jul 16, 2017, 6:15 PM EDT

If zombies do exist, now would be the time to prove it, as the father of modern zombies, George A. Romero, has died at 77.

Romero started his career shooting industrial films and television commercials with a few friends. This grew boring, so Romero and his friend John Russo began working on a script for the film that would eventually become Night of the Living Dead (1968). Romero directed the film, and now NOTLD is often considered the first modern zombie film. Ironically, the creatures in the film are never once called zombies; in the script, Romero merely referred to them as "ghouls."

But there would plenty of zombies in Romero's future. Night of the Living Dead was followed up with Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), cementing Romero's place in zombie history. He returned to his "of the Dead" universe with Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007) and Survival of the Dead (2009). He had been working on a TV series called Empire of the Dead and is credited as a writer and producer on George A. Romero Presents: Road of the Dead.

Romero had a prolific writing and directing career that wasn't limited to zombies, though he remained firmly planted in the horror genre. The Crazies (1973), Martin (1978), Monkey Shines (1988) and segments of Creepshow (1982) and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) are among some of his stand-out credits.

Romero died Sunday after a "brief but aggressive" battle with lung cancer. Wife Suzanne Desrocher Romero and daughter Tina Romero were said to be at his side when he passed peacefully while listening to the score of The Quiet Man (1952), one of his favorite films.

(via Los Angeles Times)