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Fans know George Romero's work will live on

| Monday, July 17, 2017, 11:03 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch file photo
A movie glossy from the 1968 George Romero film 'Night of the Living Dead.'
George Romero

Fans and filmmakers continue to voice praise for George Romero, who died Sunday at 77 after a battle with lung cancer.

Romero's ties to Pittsburgh were strong. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1960 and learned the movie business working on the sets of movies and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Many of his films were set in Western Pennsylvania, including "Night of the Living Dead," which was shot near Evans City in Butler County, and "Dawn of the Dead," which was filmed in Monroeville Mall.

Stephen King, whose "The Dark Half" was adapted by Romero, called him his favorite collaborator and said, "There will never be another like you."

Guillermo del Toro called the loss "enormous."

"('Night of the Living Dead') was so incredibly DIY I realized movies were not something that belonged solely to the elites with multiple millions of dollars but could also be created by US, the people who simply loved them, who lived in Missouri, as I did," wroteJames Gunn, the "Guardians of the Galaxy" director, who penned the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead."

Romero's influence could be seen across decades of American movies, from John Carpenter to Edgar Wright to Jordan Peele, the "Get Out" filmmaker. Many considered "Night of the Living Dead" to be a critique of racism in America. The sole black character survives the zombies, but he is fatally shot by rescuers. Peele on Sunday tweeted a photo of that character, played by Duane Jones, and wrote: "Romero started it."

Robert Kirkman, comic book writer and creator of "The Walking Dead," honored Romero for leading the way:

Others with Pittsburgh ties reacted to Romero's death:

Tom Savini, a special makeup effects artist and actor who worked with Romero:

Stephen Chbosky, writer and director of "Perks of Being a Wallflower"

"George Romero is a hero of mine. He made two of my favorite movies of all time. He is a major reason I became a filmmaker. He showed all of us from Pittsburgh that it could be done.

I met him when I was 17. They were showing the dead trilogy at the Fulton Theater on Halloween night as part of the George A. Romero film festival. He spoke in between Night and Dawn. I tracked him down in the lobby after his talk and got his autograph. That poster is one of my most cherished possessions. It hangs in my office today.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Romero. And thank you for making our dreams (or nightmares) seem possible."

Patrick DiCesare of Greensburg, producer of the award-winning independent film "Driving While Black"

"I've always been a cinephile, and horror is my favorite genre. There are a few films that stand out as having had a huge impact on me the first time I saw them, and 'Night of the Living Dead' is one of them.... I was left speechless after having watched it. I ... was blown away when someone told me it was shot locally. ... From then on, I was a huge Romero fan.

As much attention as he gets from directing, I hope people also understand his genius as a screenwriter and as a producer in actually being able to get his films made. Many zombie films had obviously been done before Romero, but nobody had given it the same feel, style and flair in the writing and direction until he did in 1968 and thereafter. He made it popular and spawned hundreds of other zombie films by influencing filmmakers around the world. The 'Dead' films, 'The Crazies,' 'Martin,' 'Creepshow' and 'Monkey Shines' will all live on forever as horror classics, and deservedly so.

However, I think the influences he had on local guys like Tom Savini and Greg Nicotero, and Julie Benz — a huge Hollywood star now, who was from Murrysville and got her first role in Romero's "Two Evil Eyes" — might be as important to his legacy in film as the actual films he wrote, directed and produced. It's a huge loss for film lovers all over the world, and particularly for Pittsburghers. I'm sorry to hear of his passing and I can only hope, as I'm sure many other horror fans might, that George comes back, smiling, as a zombie."

Fans also took to Twitter to express their sorrow at Romero's passing:

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