George Romero was one of a kind. A director with a social conscience that shined through his films, he was the father of zombies as we know them. He has been a hero of mine since I was a kid - I remember my dad tipping me off to a screening of Night of the Living Dead one Halloween night on PBS sometime in the mid eighties and as I sat down to watch I was both riveted and terrified within the first five minutes, right after "They're coming for you Baaar-berrrr-ahhh!"
Traditional monster movies never *really* scared me but for some reason George's ghouls (which were later christened 'the modern zombie') still spook me to this day. And so I slowly started to see his other "of the Dead" films and then Creepshow (one of my ABSOLUTE FAVES), The Crazies, Knightriders, Martin and on and on.
I was lucky and finally got to meet George a few years ago at a con in our former hometown of Saint Louis. Overwhelmed with emotion, I quickly told him my favorite films of his and thanked him for creating nuanced stories that also gave me a bit of thoughtful terror that has inspired my art. It was awesome.
Through his career George Romero remained fiercely independent and even though that probably meant that we missed out on a number of films that were never able to be made, most of the movies he did manage to put out into the world had an impact.
George, I will miss having you around. Just last night I started reading the anthology of short stories set in the Night of the Living Dead world that you co-edited and the terror created by these new stores reminded me of that first time I saw Night of the Living Dead on a Halloween night all those years ago.
Thank you for contributing such powerful stories that have affected so many of us to create works of art or contribute to society in other ways. Spooky tales like yours have provided some escape from the horrors of this world while also keeping one foot on the ground. Rest In Peace kind sir.