The Los Angeles Times has reported that director George A. Romero has passed away following a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer.”
Even though his horror films belong in the same conversation as classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, George Romero would never have admitted it.
“It’s so hard for me to think of myself in the same league because I’m still a fan of the old famous monsters and all that stuff,” Romero told USA TODAY in 2010. That said, “I think that maybe I did a little something right.”
That’s for sure: Romero, who died Sunday at age 77, was influential to generations of horror fiends and filmmakers alike, and not just for the zombie stuff. (Although there would be no The Walking Dead without him.)
Here are five of the filmmaker’s best you should watch for the breadth of his talent:
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The indie film done for a mere $114,000 is the all-time classic of the genre and introduced the zombie movie to an unsuspecting culture. It was also hugely progressive for the time in casting African-American actor Duane Jones in a lead role and acted as a terrifying metaphor for racism in the civil-rights era.
The Crazies (1973)
The cult classic imagined the disaster around the accidental release of a military bioweapon on an unsuspecting small town. The zombie apocalypse is a little fantastical, but Romero’s story and the infected “crazies” running about were all too real.