Living Dead director George A Romero dies aged 77

The American-born filmmaker George A Romero, who created the Living Dead movie franchise, has died at the age of 77

George A Romero
George A Romero

George A Romero, director of horror classic Night of the Living Dead, has died at 77 years of age.

Romero died in his sleep on Sunday with his wife and daughter at his side, after a "brief but aggressive battle" with lung cancer, Romero’s producing partner Peter Grunwald said.

Romero co-wrote and directed the film that started the zombie series Night of the Living Dead in 1968.

The micro-budget zombie film combining horror and social satire, became a cult classic, spawning a series: Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007) and Survival of the Dead.

At the time of its release, Night of the Living Dead was criticised for being gory but it went on to be a cult classic and shape horror and zombie films for decades.

The last was released in 2009.

Co-writer John Roe said Romero died listening to the score of The Quiet Man, "one of his all-time favourite films".

Romero was born in the Bronx, in New York City, on 4 February 1940, to a Cuban father and a Lithuanian-American mother. He began his filmmaking career as a commercial director before finding his niche in horror.

He influenced a generation of filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez and the late Wes Craven, according to Grunwald.

Romero owned a small commercial production company when he convinced nine others to put up a small amount of money to finance Night of the Living Dead, Grunwald said.

Made for an estimated $114,000, the black-and-white film has grossed some $30 million worldwide, according to the internet movie database site "Dawn of the Dead" grossed $55 million worldwide, the website said.

Commercial success "allowed him to make movies on his own terms," Grunwald said.