My George A. Romero Experience

The Horror genre recently lost another one of its icons.

It’s hard to think but there was once a time where the name George A. Romero meant nothing to me, it wasn’t even a name I knew. I could’ve met the guy and not known who the hell I was talking to.

Little did I know that the name Romero would be forever engraved into my brain and my heart as he struck fear into both of them and opened my eyes to a world I ultimately knew very little about.

When I was little I always wanted to dress as a zombie for Halloween, I didn’t know what they were or what they did but I always loved the look of them and I always enjoyed seeing myself in the mirror in all my make-up.

In those moments I admit that I loved being in my scary makeup with my fake blood all over my mouth and clothes, seeing people’s reactions was even better. Little did I know what I was portraying.

It would be years before I associated zombies with Romero, I only really associated them with Michael Jackson before Romero came along, my zombies may have been choreographed but it was a start.

My introduction to the world of Romero films actually happened by accident, I rented a film from my local video shop and the wrong film was inside, the VHS was actually a film called “Dawn Of The Dead”.

As I’d only just started to get into Horror I decided to just keep this video and give it a try… I watched the film three times in one day. I was amazed by it and things would never be the same again for me when it came to the undead.

These weren’t choreographed zombies, these were frightening, primitive beings who only wanted to tear you apart and eat you. Is that what I’d really been dressing up as when I was four years old?

After that eventful night I found out about the other films in the trilogy, “Night Of The Living Dead” and “Day Of The Dead”, I HAD to see them and I eventually hunted them down. You have to remember this was pre-internet.

Despite starting in the middle I managed to see the original “Dead” trilogy (this time in order) and I was never the same again, zombies have been a permanent fixture in my life ever since and I’m thankful for it.

It wasn’t too long after that I found out about Romero’s other films, his non-zombie films such as “Martin”, “The Crazies”, “Season Of The Witch”, “Monkey Shines”, “Two Evil Eyes”, “The Dark Half” and “Bruiser.

All fantastic films that showed the wide range he really had, his directorial and writing skills were amazing and his social commentary were always on point, though it was never too much, just another layer to the film.

In the mid 2000’s Romero returned to the zombie genre and I was ecstatic, I remember getting seriously excited about it but unfortunately I have to admit that “Land Of The Dead” didn’t exactly reach my high expectations.

I could see what he was trying to go for but ultimately I was just left disappointed, like a lot of fans did. It wasn’t the return we had all hoped for but it had been 20 years since his last zombie flick.

Even though a lot of people felt that his next two offerings – “Diary Of The Dead” and “Survival Of The Dead” – were underwhelming, I have to say I really enjoyed them and I could see his old spark coming back.

I always had a lot of respect for the fact he didn’t rely on past glories and continued to keep going and make new films, he could have easily rested on his laurels but he didn’t, like a true creator he never stopped.

When Romero’s name pops up the question that’s bound to be asked is “what’s your favourite film from the original trilogy?” Well my answer to that is and always has been “Day Of The Dead”, though I love all three.

It’s hard to explain why but “Day Of The Dead” is the one film that always resonated with me the most and struck fear into me the most, it still gives me goosebumps when I watch it now.

Sadly Romero is now gone but he left a legacy that film-makers can only dream of, his influence on the Horror genre is immeasurable. We will always have his films to watch and enjoy again and again.

So celebrate his life, his career, watch his films, even the ones you may not have enjoyed much and see if you can see something different in them or see them in a new light. Just enjoy what he gave us, as mournfully there will be no more.

George A. Romero 1940 – 2017

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