Remembering George A. Romero by Bill Oberst, Jr.

At dinner in a German castle one chilly October evening, I sat next to one of the creators of the modern zombie myth. Russ Streiner, who co-produced and played Johnny in the original Night Of The Living Dead, and I were guests at the Weekend Of Horror con.

Over three courses, Streiner indulged my questions about how George Romero, John Russo and he had created the concept. Streiner was modest – he gave Romero and Russo all the credit – but he was there, and he told me about those late 1960’s discussions between three rather poor young men. Each time I would ask about the origins of some facet of the modern zombie canon, his reply was the same “George made that up” followed by the reason George had made the particular “that” up (usually having to do with budgetary constraints.)

Listening to Streiner that enchanted evening, I was struck by two thoughts: (1) every ubiquitous creation of culture is the creation of someone who just thought it up, and (2) the creations of George Romero’s imagination, which seem now to have existed forever and which have given such joyful fright to so many millions, are, in fact, just that: the creations of George Romero’s imagination. No greater testament to his artistry exists. May he rest in peace, and may his imagination and daring be our example while we still walk this earth.

– Bill Oberst, Jr.

George A. Romero

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