May he rest in peace.
While vampires, ghosts, demons, werewolves—and weretigers!—can be found in many cultures for thousands of years an apocalypse of cannibalistic zombies seems to be traced back only to Romero. Before George A. Romero zombies were reanimated corpses under the control of some voodoo wizard. A zombie was someone controlled by others while Romero's zombies were out of control!The idea seems to have been out there in the ether for a long time. More than 4,000 years ago in the Epic of Gilgamesh the goddess Ishtar, after being rejected by Gilgamesh, makes a threat: “I will knock down the gates of the netherworld, I will smash the door posts and leave the doors flat down, and will let the dead go up and eat the living!” But it doesn't happen, it's just a threat. Then there is the Bible: Zechariah 14:12 “And the lord will send a plague on all the nations that fought against Jerusalem. Their people will be like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away.” And again in Isaiah 26:19-20 “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise…go, my people, enter your rooms and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves until their wrath has passed us by.” But neither the Epic of Gilgamesh nor the Bible actually shows a zombie apocalypse, it was up to George Romero to let us see what that would look like.George was as tall as Christopher Lee and being half Cuban, half Lithuanian, who knows, he might have had actual zombies and vampires among his ancestors. It might seem inevitable that he would come up with some amazing horror concept but the process was much more trial an error. The movie Night of the Living Dead was supposed to be a horror comedy inspired in the vampire-like plague of Richard Matheson's novel I am Legend. The reanimated corpse angle was so the movie didn't look too much like a rip-off. But then other things happened. Although the lead was supposed to be white Romero cast African-American actor Duane Jones and did not change the script to reflect that. The movie was exhibited immediately before the MPAA ratings system was in place and was seen by a lot of children and teenagers creating a lasting impression on a generation. And then there is the graphic cannibalism. A new horror genre had been born!Thank you, George, for leaving the world a little more entertaining than it was before.
... and thanks for all the entertainment. You made my life better.
George Romero's passing is a loss for horror fans worldwide.Unlike the zombies he filmed, may he Rest in Peace.
I'm sorry to say I've never known his movies too well, but TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE is another matter, luckily.
Thought I'd throw this in with the ghoulish quotations Mestiere offered above. From Act 3, Scene 1 of Julius Caesar: "And Caesar's spirit, raging for revenge / With Até by his side come hot from hell, / Shall in these confines, in a monarch's voice / Cry 'Havoc' and let slip the dogs of war; / That this foul deed shall smell above the earth / With carrion men groaning for burial."Man it sucks to lose another genius so soon. Rest in peace, George.
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