Romero was born in New York City to a Cuban immigrant father and a Lithuanian-American mother. After attending college at Carnegie Mellon he began work in television and commercials. He banded together with some friends and investors and founded a film production company. When it came time write a script, Romero and co-writer John Russo drew inspiration from the novel I Am Legend, in which The Virus turns almost all of humanity into vampires. Romero and Russo tweaked this idea to make the monsters into flesh-eating, re-animated corpses.
The resultant film was Night of the Living Dead, which became one of the most successful B-movies of all time. It also re-defined the word "zombie". The word originally comes from voodoo, or rather Hollywood Voodoo, and meant voodoo zombies, namely the comatose or dead that have been animated and enslaved to a master by voodoo magic. Romero's concept of the zombie became so iconic that it pretty much Covered Up the voodoo zombie in pop culture.
Romero kept working after this, making films like Season of the Witch and Martin, but those films didn't catch on with the public like Night of the Living Dead did, so he went back to the zombie well with Dawn of the Dead in 1978, Day of the Dead in 1985, and Land of the Dead in 2005. His other credits included the horror movies Creepshow and Monkey Shines, and he was an executive producer of the 1980s syndicated horror television series, Tales from the Darkside.
Romero passed away in his sleep on July 16, 2017, after a battle with lung cancer.
- The Living Dead Series
- There's Always Vanilla (1971)
- Hungry Wives a.k.a. Season of the Witch (1973)
- The Crazies (1973)
- Martin (1978)
- Knightriders (1981)
- Creepshow (1982)
- Tales from the Darkside (television series, 1984-88; writer only)
- Creepshow 2 (1987; writer only)
- Monkey Shines (1988)
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990; writer only)
- Two Evil Eyes (1990)
- The Dark Half (1993)
- Bruiser (2000)
- Deadtime Stories: Volume 1 (2009) (actor only)
- Deadtime Stories: Volume 2 (2010) (actor and executive producer)
Tropes Associated with Romero's work:
- As Himself: Guest-starred in Call of Duty: Zombies as himself... turned into a zombie monster while filming a movie.
- Crazy-Prepared: A year after his death, his wife announced that he'd left behind almost fifty completed scripts that had not been produced, which she's now trying to get going.
- Creator's Oddball: There's Always Vanilla is a Romantic Comedy-cum-Dramedy, in contrast to the horror and action films making up the rest of his oeuvre.
- Filibuster Freefall: Dawn and Day are noticeably more political and satirical than Night, where the subtext was mostly accidental. In this case, it was for the better, as the deeper subtext helped elevate the films into horror classics and make social commentary a hallmark of the zombie genre. Opinions are more divided, however, on the latter three Living Dead films he made, which grew increasingly heavy-handed.
- He Also Did: Started his career working as a cameraman on, we kid you not, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. His own directorial debut was in fact a short documentary entitled Mr. Rogers Gets A Tonsilectomy, with a bizarre tone that he later credited as a direct inspiration for the Living Dead series. (Fred Rogers later watched Night Of The Living Dead and declared it was "really fun.")
- Humans Are Bastards: Even though Romero seemed like a respectable person in real life, this is a recurring motif in his zombie films, almost to a point that one could make the argument that the zombies themselves are actually the good guys. It's argued that, from at least Land of the Dead on, this trope actually hurt Romero's story-telling, as he keeps rehashing the same old message.
- Our Zombies Are Different: While the earliest depictions of zombies in films are Voodoo Zombies controlled by necromancy, Romero popularized the idea of zombies as a result of viral infection, going after uninfected humans.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Most of his films, especially his zombie films, tend to lean quite heavily on the cynical end.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Practically every Living Dead film.