“Who knows? Maybe they’ll learn something.”
Q: What does George A. Romero have in common with Orson Welles and Michael Cimino?
A: Great beginnings…not so great on the back end.
Romero blasted onto the scene in 1968 with the original zombie nightmare, Night of the Living Dead. A genre-defining, taboo-gouging piece of horror excellence, Night was to modern horror cinema what Welles’ Citizen Kane was to American film in general, and Cimino’s The Deer Hunter was to the contemporary, post-Vietnam American epic drama. Welles took his interest in theater and the classics and went on to make several other masterpieces (from The Magnificent Ambersons up through the delirious documentary F for Fake), but the Kane experience was never to be matched, nor its promise replicated. Cimino’s work dropped off drastically, and the director ended up as a journeyman of pallid thrillers that didn’t even resemble his earlier work. But Romero took a different path, thanks mostly to the genre he helped form; after Night came a handful of modest thrillers, and ten years passed before his second masterpiece, Dawn of the Dead. Socially relevant, gory and morbidly funny, Dawn refreshed everyone’s memory: this guy Romero, he was something else.