It's safe to say that if you're AMC's The Walking Dead, you quite literally owe your life to George A. Romero. The 77-year-old godfather of the zombie genre sadly passed away on July 16, leaving behind a legacy of movies, his own genre, and setting the bar of rotting flesh pretty damn high. Best known for crafting 1968's Night of the Living Dead, Romero pretty much coined the modern interpretation of the word "zombie."
Without #GeorgeRomero, our current TV landscape would probably be a lot more cheerful place, but also a hell of a lot more boring. However, away from the likes of iZombie, Z Nation, and In the Flesh, #TheWalkingDead is undoubtedly the decaying jewel in the crown of zombies on TV. Realising the show's humble roots, SFX guru and director #GregNicotero has taken to social media to thank Romero for his work.
A Director With More Bite
In two heartfelt posts written on Instagram, Nicotero shared his memories of Romero, who was a man who undoubtedly gave him a leg-up in the world. Nicotero started out life as a humble SFX boy, working under the acclaimed Tom Savini on Romero's Day of the Dead in 1985. Sharing a picture of himself alongside Romero, Nicotero wrote the following:
“The sad news keeps rolling in. There are so many things to say about this man, my friend, my mentor and my inspiration. For what he gave us all with passion and fire, his unrelenting spirit will live forever. Blessed that I was honored to present him this award late April in Pittsburgh where IT ALL F*CKING STARTED!!!! Never ending love to him and his family.”
The second post was a reference to Romero's work on 1973's The Crazies. Although the film wasn't your classic zombie horror, it still remains incredibly popular and even got its own 2010 remake:
It has been a rough week for Nicotero, only last week losing a stuntman on the set of AMC's hit show, and now the tragic passing of his mentor. Back in 2013, Nicotero sat down with Rolling Stone and cited Romero as a true pioneer. After being originally offered a job with Romero on horror anthology Creepshow, Nicotero turned it down to concentrate on his studies. But, when offered Day of the Dead, he wasn't about to make the same mistake twice. However, Nicotero reminds us that it wasn't only himself who had the door opened by Romero:
"He wasn't afraid to take chances, and he really laid the groundwork for so many filmmakers today. George had a very, very specific voice, and he always pushed it. And by using violence in movies and the satirical look at things, George really opened the world for genre filmmakers by being brave and bold, and not backing down."
In specific reference to The Walking Dead, Romero's vision really did lay the foundation for what was to come. As Nicotero reminds us, Romero's early work with Night of the Living Dead was the ancestor to everything brain-munching we know today:
“We always sort of refer to Night Of the Living Dead as the Holy Grail of zombie movies. All of the rules – you've gotta shoot it in the head to kill it – before 1969, that little piece of folklore didn't exist. Now it's part of popular culture. So we owe a lot to George's vision and the world he set up. I know that when we did the pilot, Frank Darabont and I talked at great length about Night Of the Living Dead being sort of our beacon.”
While Romero may be sadly gone, his efforts undoubtedly live on through the memories of people like Nicotero, but also the entire zombie genre with the likes of Resident Evil and shows like The Walking Dead. This is one legacy that is sure to keep on shuffling from well beyond the grave.
Check out the trailer for Night of the Living Dead below
Source: Rolling Stone