My very first horror convention was in April of 1988, out in California. Up until then, I had never met anybody famous, especially any idols I had from the horror genre. But at the show, one of the first ones I met was George Romero. I had come walking out of the dealer room on my way to the auditorium for the Q&A’s, and there he stood, surrounded by fans like a scene from one of his zombie flicks. Except, instead of trying to eat him, they just wanted to get an autograph or just say hello and thanks. I didn’t take me long to join the growing mass of fans either. I had him sign my copy of Tom Savini’s Grande Illusions, which was my very first autograph as well. I still have that book to this day and is one of my most memorable.
Over the next few decades, I would see Romero quite a few more times at different cons that I would attend and would always be amazed at the crowds he drew each and every time. But then when it hits you just how important he is to the genre, that each year with all the newer horror fans, it then made complete sense. In fact, my own son was adamant to meet him at one of those shows, even wearing his “Zombie in Training” t-shirt. When were making a trip to the Pittsburgh area to go to a drive-in, we had to stop by the Evans City cemetery where Romero and company made history way back in 1968. I’m not one for visiting old movie sets, but that one was pretty damn special.
I always hate to come up with favorite lists, like a Top Ten, only because they may change over time. But if I did have to narrow it down to two, I’m sure two of the titles would be Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Creepshow (1982).
Of course, as everyone has probably already read/heard, George Romero passed away today. He was only 77 years old. It’s not that often that a director makes a film that creates its own sub-genre, but Romero did just that. Kind of funny that the sub-genre that he did create, about the dead that won’t die, would be like his legacy, one that will never die and continue to always be shuffling along, waiting to devour its next victim, or the next generation of zombie fans.
Rest in peace, Mr. Romero. Thank you for so many hours of terror and entertainment. You will definitely never be forgotten. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family at during this difficult time.