‘Night of the Living Dead’ director George A. Romero dead

Los Angeles, July 17 (IANS) George A. Romero, who launched the zombie film genre with his 1968 “Night of the Living Dead”, is dead. He was 77.

The director died on July 16, confirms variety.com.

The director died in his sleep following a battle with lung cancer, according to a statement from his manager Chris Roe.

“Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero passed away on Sunday July 16, listening to the score of ‘The Quiet Man’, one of his all-time favorite films, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero at his side,” read a statement.

The statement read: “He died peacefully in his sleep, following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer, and leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time.”

Made in Pittsburgh on a budget of $114,000, “Night of the Living Dead” made $30 million and became a cult classic.

After “Night of the Living Dead”, he directed films including “There’s Always Vanilla”, “Season of the Witch”, and “The Crazies”, although none had the impact of his first film. His 1977 vampire arthouse pic “Martin” was somewhat more well-received.

He went back to zombies with “Dawn of the Dead”, which made more than $55 million on a half a million dollar budget, then made his third Dead movie with “Day of the Dead” in 1985.

His non-zombie films of that period gained more attention, including “Knightridgers” about jousters who re-enact tournaments on motorcycles and the anthology “Creepshow” written by Stephen King.

Among his other films from the 1980s and 1990s were “Monkey Shines”, Edgar Allen Poe adaptation “Two Evil Eyes”, in collaboration with Dario Argento, “The Dark Half” and “Bruiser.”

Romero was originally set to direct “Resident Evil”, but left the project due to creative differences.

Born in the Bronx, Romero’s father was Cuban and his mother Lithuanian. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, then began shooting shorts and commercials, including a segment of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.”

He is survived by his wife Suzanne and two children.

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