10 Best George A. Romero Movies
George A. Romero is a quintessential director. Among his many credits, he is best known for being the steady, guiding hand behind Night of the Living Dead and its five subsequent films over the next four-plus decades. Romero’s films have been subject to many a remake — namely Dawn of the Dead in 2004 by director Zack Snyder (300, Batman v. Superman) and writer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and The Crazies in 2010 by Breck Eisner (Sahara). His influence extends well beyond these explicit reboots, however. He is widely considered to be the godfather of the zombie genre as a whole—as well as making a number of other great horror films. Though Romero tragically died of lung cancer in 2017, son Cameron is reportedly working on a prequel film to his infamous zombie franchise similar to the way Rise of the Planet of the Apes works within its own series.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Fans of the Night of the Living Dead franchise may bicker about which film in the series is best, but you cannot deny that none of the sequels would exist without the original. A small, ragtag group of people find themselves in an abandoned house surrounded by mindless, reanimated corpses. The film — probably largely because of its budget constraints — feels minimalist. In spite of that, the emotions are grand, tense and unnerving. It is a very concise, satisfying horror movie.
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Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Romero took a decade off from his defining franchise-to-be. In the time between, he and his co-writer John A. Russo parted ways. However, because their original film was public domain, both could continue the series as they see fit. Romero through film and Russo through novels. Like its predecessor, Dawn of the Dead shows a small band of humans trying to survive an army of the undead — this time in a shopping mall. Among its many laudable qualities, it features a great soundtrack scored by The Goblins and Italian director Dario Argento, who also collaborated on Argento’s own acclaimed horror film Suspiria.
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Day of the Dead (1985)
Day of the Dead marks the end of Romero’s original Dead trilogy. By the time of this film, the population of zombies massively outnumbers that of humans. The few survivors live in bunkers and the like. One such compound houses a group of scientists trying to find a solution to the epidemic, as well as a small militia. Perhaps even more so than its predecessors, Day of the Dead was lauded for its use of practical effects — albeit with a somewhat weaker narrative.
Martin is perhaps the most gruesome film in Romero’s body of work, which is a pretty high bar to clear. The title character is a young man who believes himself to be a vampire. Martin makes a habit of murdering and then drinking the blood of his victims. His Catholic great uncle — with whom he lives — also believes him to be a vampire and treats him as such. Along with being absolutely stomach-churning, it is an engrossing film.
Season of the Witch or Hungry Wives (1972)
In Romero’s oft-forgotten film Season of the Witch (alternatively known as Hungry Wives), a suburban housewife finds herself plagued with implacable guilt and anxieties. She has recurring nightmares about an intruder. She sees a psychiatrist and takes medication, but nothing seems to help. She struggles to cope with aging, her relationship with her daughter, and the changing culture of the times. She also becomes increasingly convinced that she may be a witch and possess some sort of supernatural power. It is one of the most character-driven films in Romero’s oeuvre.
The Crazies (1973)
Although The Crazies is separate from Romero’s main zombie series, it has a similar driving concept. In the film, a biological military weapon wreaks havoc on the residents of a small town. The weapon makes its victims, as one might imagine, crazy. They become dissociative and violent. The movie documents a handful of people trying to survive the mindless mob.
Creepshow is a feature-length series of five vignettes directed by Romero and written by fantasy-horror master Stephen King. Though the stories were original, Romero and King were heavily inspired by the horror comics published by EC Comics in the 1950s such as “Tales from the Crypt.” Among the stars of the segments included Leslie Nielsen, Ed Harris, and Ted Danson. While supplanting a typical three-act structure with a series of separate stories can be a rather dicey artistic choice, critics and audiences alike enjoyed Creepshow.
Land of the Dead (2005)
Following the success of the 2004 Zack Snyder/James Gunn remake of Dawn of the Dead, Romero returned to his beloved franchise after a 20-year hiatus with Land of the Dead. In the film, The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — because of its geography — has become one of a few asylums from the zombie outbreak. Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) rules over the area like a feudal lord. Land of the Dead was praised by many as a return to classic form for Romero.
Diary of the Dead (2007)
Diary of the Dead — which is shot in the found-footage style — documents a group of film students working in the woods outside of Pittsburgh. After reports of riots begin reaching them, they come to realize that they are caught at the beginning of a zombie outbreak. Members of the group make their way around, trying to find their loved ones in the chaos. The film underwhelmed in comparison to its immediate predecessor Land of the Dead but received some acclaim for Romero’s clever continuation of his franchise.
Survival of the Dead (2009)
Survival of the Dead was Romero’s final film before his death in 2017. In the film, a crew of U.S. National Guard members — who appeared in the previous film briefly — who have left their posts during the pandemic of undead walking the earth. It was a pretty significant box office disappointment and is regarded as one of Romero’s weakest, but the film nonetheless has its champions.
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