A short tribute to George A. Romero (1940 – 2017)
On July 16th, it was with a heavy heart that I heard the legendary director George A. Romero had sadly passed away after a short battle with cancer. Since that day, I’ve been wanting to write a short tribute or obituary, but it’s been hard to put into words the importance of George A. Romero on me. As a film fan, his work introduced me to the world of horror and fed into my obsession with all things gory. As a filmmaker, he revolutionised the world of independent film and proved you could kickstart an entire genre on your own. Most importantly, as a critic, he taught me that films were more than mere entertainment, designed to pass the time; films could be art.
I first saw his masterpiece Dawn of the Dead when I was twelve years old. I had never seen a horror film before, and the cover of my Dad’s grainy VHS copy (featuring the mangled face of a zombie) terrified and intrigued me in equal measure. That night, I sat in the dark and watched as a battered videotape of a 1978 zombie film blew my mind. The mixture of huge action, repulsive gore, spine-tingling chills, and the still-genius Goblin score seemed far greater than any film I had seen previously (other than Pulp Fiction, the other film that led me to become the cinephile I am today), and it was all I could do not to rewind the tape and watch it a dozen times more. Years later, I upgraded to a DVD copy, but no level of picture quality could replicate the magic of that first viewing experience; Dawn of the Dead was made to be seen on a grainy old videotape.
For a year, I was obsessed with the Dead films, especially the original trilogy. To this day, both Dawn and Day of the Dead rank as some of my favourite films, and while the later films don’t quite stand up as well, they were always entertaining. If it wasn’t for his intelligent, beautifully-directed early horror films, there’s a good chance this blog wouldn’t exist. The effect that first viewing of Dawn of the Dead had on me is one of the key reasons I want to make films, and I spend my time watching films, and I continue writing blogs about films. I have George A. Romero to thank for all that.
It’s sad to think that he’s gone, and we’ll never have another film bearing his seal. Let’s just hope there’s no more room in hell, so the dead can walk the Earth and we might just get to see him one more time.
RIP George A. Romero (1940-2017)
By Harry J. Ford
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