ShareThis Page

Pittsburgh writer credits 'genius' George Romero as inspiration

| Sunday, July 16, 2017, 11:15 p.m.
FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2009, file photo, director George Romero arrives for the screening of the film 'Survival Of The Dead' at the 66th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. Romero, whose classic 'Night of the Living Dead' and other horror films turned zombie movies into social commentaries and who saw his flesh-devouring undead spawn countless imitators, remakes and homages, has died. He was 77. Romero died Sunday, July 16, 2017, following a battle with lung cancer, said his family in a statement provided by his manager Chris Roe. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Thomas Sweterlitsch of Greenfield, a screenwriter and the author of the novel “Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” says Romero is his creative inspiration.

“I think his films are the reason I write novels. The first novel I ever tried to write was a zombie novel, set in Pittsburgh — it was a huge failure as a novel but taught me how to write, how to finish a project. The whole thing was just full of Romero references, I was so impressed by those films.”

He said Romero's cinematic impression on Western Pennsylvania stands the test of time.

“It's impossible to go to the Monroeville Mall and not imagine hordes of zombies around you, imagining which department stores you could hide in, which hallways might offer escape. He was a brilliant artist.

“The Pittsburgh connection was always there, even in his later film ‘Land of the Dead,' the whole story takes place in Pittsburgh, even though the city is never named, the geography is there, the rivers,” Sweterlitsch said.

“Artistically, he was a genius. … When ‘Night of the Living Dead' came out, it was genuinely horrifying to audiences at the time because of its slow-creep tension and the startling violence, but he does something completely extraordinary at the end of the film: where most movies would have ended happily, or come to some peaceful conclusion, Romero substitutes a series of stark black and white stills, so that this horror movie suddenly feels like a piece of photojournalism, as we learn that the main character, a black man, the hero of the entire movie, was mistaken for one of the zombies and shot dead by a band of country cops. The movie is a commentary on race in America, a commentary on the horror of Vietnam War coverage, and I've read articles equating the shambling zombies with the American working class, and the decline of manufacturing. ‘Dawn of the Dead' was a very different movie, colorful and almost fun, but the critique was no less pointed as the zombies shambling through a suburban mall become stand-ins for the mindless habits of American consumer culture.”

Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.