Monstrum (Apr 2018)

The Death of Death: A Memorial Retrospective on George A. Romero (1940-2017)

  • Stacey Abbott,
  • Simon Brown,
  • Mario DeGiglio-Bellemare,
  • Clayton Dillard,
  • Will Dodson,
  • Lorna Jowett,
  • Adam Lowenstein,
  • R. Million,
  • Carl Sederholm,
  • J.A. Shea,
  • Tony Williams,
  • Annaëlle Winand,
  • Kristopher Woofter

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 1, no. 1
pp. 3 – 57


Read online

It has been almost ten years since George A. Romero made Survival of the Dead, the final film in his series of living dead films, and now his final film. At that time, he had been working on the comics series, Empire of the Dead (2014-2015) for Marvel, and, most recently, was seeking funding for a new film, Road of the Dead, co-written with Matt Birman, who would direct. Romero made sixteen films in his nearly fifty-year career as an artist of the macabre and satirical. Even There’s Always Vanilla (1971), despite Romero’s attempt to take a career-varying left turn after his game-changing Night of the Living Dead (1968), weaves scenes of dread into its social satire. Though he worked with major studios on four films—Creepshow (1982, Warner Bros.), Monkey Shines (1988, Orion), The Dark Half (1990, Orion), and Land of the Dead (2005, Universal)—and on various other unproduced projects, Romero was an independent artist through and through. The work of a visionary is clear in all of his films, from the studio-supported work to hugely influential films like Night and Dawn of the Dead (1979), to his professedly most personal work, in films like Martin (1977, released 1978) and Knightriders (1981). Everywhere in the work of George Romero the spectator finds an artist with an acute sense of the anxieties of modernity; of the fragility of bodies, families and communities; of the terrible exigencies of capitalism and American isolationism, and the struggles of those alienated by both; and of the transgressive power of monsters to reveal uncomfortable truths—through horror, humor and pathos. George Andrew Romero died on 16 July, 2017 at the age of 77. This retrospective treats all sixteen of the films Romero directed, with a mention of those he scripted. The critical perspectives here vary from the personal to the theoretical. Contributors were encouraged to respond in the way that they felt most appropriate to the film they chose, and to their experience with it. Some respondents are seasoned Romero scholars and addicts, some are coming to the material via Stephen King or literary antecedents such as Edgar A. Poe and E.C. Comics, and some are coming to Romero’s work absolutely fresh. This retrospective honors a visionary who changed the face of horror; but, perhaps more importantly, it hopes to encourage further interest in the diverse work of an important American filmmaker who never stopped seeking new ways to force his audience to experience their moment. — Kristopher Woofter, editor