I have already written two entries in this blog about the inimitable George A. Romero, but I could probably write a book about his influence on modern culture (and me). Today he passed away at the age of 77 at home and I must take a moment to acknowledge and thank him.
As I wrote in an earlier post, but bears repeating: The man invented a genre seemingly out of thin air, one that is still spawning fresh interpretations 50 years later. Love it or hate it, zombie films represent one of the most infinitely malleable film genres of all time. There seems to be no story line you can’t hang on it. Horror, drama, science fiction, comedy, farce, tragedy, love story, political commentary, art film, futuristic apocalypse, nightmare. It’s all there.
But make no mistake, George A. Romero was the undisputed master. The existential dread and examination of human drama in the face of the apocalypse was an essential part of his blueprint from the beginning. The uneasy sense of danger you had as an audience member watching these films, unsure as to exactly how far this director would go…
He had mastered, from the beginning, the concept of a high line and a low line in art. Let me explain – in my opinion, all great art has the ability to connect with the viewer on a base, low, almost primal level. And then, for those who are paying attention and want to delve a little deeper, the work just keeps revealing layer after layer of meaning. Great art works on multiple levels – but you don’t have to get all of these layers to be moved by it. This is one of the things I love about the horror genre. Many cinephiles completely miss this, they just see these films as coarse trash, and as a result a lot of unbelievable art goes right over their heads.
So here’s to you George A. Romero, reluctant genius, visionary artist, game changer of the cultural landscape. You made life better for more than you knew. Rest In Peace, your memory will live on in everyone touched by your work, whether they knew it or not. Bravo!