George A. Romero, the director who gave life to the zombie craze with his classic low-budget film "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), has died at 77, Variety confirmed.
The director, who had been battling lung cancer, died in his sleep, his manager Chris Roe said in a statement.
Roe said, "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, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero, at his side. 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.”
"Night of the Living Dead" was shot for $114,000 in Pittsburgh. The black-and-white gore fest became a sensation, grossing $30 million and spawning others in a suite of zombie flicks: "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" (2009). He also wrote and executive-produced a 1990 remake of "Night of the Living Dead." The films are seen as trenchant social commentary as well as disturbing depictions of the fight to survive against undead predators.
Romero directed 10 films outside his zombie series, including the critically acclaimed vampire movie "Martin" (1978), and the blackly comic horror anthology "Creepshow" (1982), which was written by Stephen King.
Romero is survived by his wife and two children.