George Romero died listening to the score of 'The Quiet Man', one of his all-time favorite films Photograph: (Twitter)
US filmmaker George A Romero, whose 1968 cult classic "Night of the Living Dead" spawned the zombie movie genre, died on Sunday aged 77, according to his manager in a report by AFP.
His death was mourned on social media website Twitter by, among others, the famous American horror writer Stephen King.
Sad to hear my favorite collaborator--and good old friend--George Romero has died. George, there will never be another like you.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) July 16, 2017
Romero's manager Chris Roe made a brief statement.
"Legendary filmmaker George A Romero passed away on Sunday July 16, listening to the score of 'The Quiet Man', one of his all-time favorite films."
"He died peacefully in his sleep, following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer, and leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time."
Shot in black-and-white on a budget of just over $100,000, "Night of the Living Dead" daringly featured black actor Duane Jones as its lead in a script about a group of people attempting to survive an attack by re-animated corpses.
Some on social media commented on Romero's depiction of race in his movies:
George Romero made a film where the levelheaded Black hero survives zombies only to be killed by scared whites. Almost unfathomable in 1968.— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) July 17, 2017
Admirers in the industry believed Romero was ahead of his time in his understanding of race in America, and this made its way into his films at a time when this was very rare.
Romero used genre to confront racism 50 years ago. He always had diverse casts, with Duane Jones as the heroic star of NOTLD.— Eli Roth (@eliroth) July 16, 2017
"Night of the Living Dead" went on to gross over $30 million worldwide, and led to five sequels including "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead" -- inspiring an entire genre that remains a Hollywood staple to this day, though the director admitted he was himself influenced by Richard Matheson's 1954 novel "I Am Legend".
"Night of the Living Dead" was added by the Library of Congress in 1999 to its National Film Registry for works considered "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
All of the movies were shot in or around Pittsburgh, where Romero had attended Carnegie-Mellon University after moving away from his hometown New York where he was born in 1940 to a Cuban father and a Lithuanian-American mother.
He is survived by his wife and daughter, who were by his side when he died, according to Roe.
Romero fans from around the world filled social media with art dedicated to the horror filmmaker, making it clear how much admiration they had for him, and what an impact he had on the genre and on cinema in general.