GEORGE A. ROMERO
Compiled by T5
George Andrew Romero was born in the East Bronx
on February 4, 1940, the only child of a commercial artist father and homemaker
mother. "We lived in a big Brave New World
apartment complex. It was surreal with gargoyles and statues carved into the
walls. There was a little patch of sky between the buildings that could barely
be seen by looking straight up."
Self-professed 'fat kid', he shot films with a
Revere 8mm camera in his teens. (These are not available for viewing and in most
cases, never completed anyway.) A policeman saw Romero throw a burning dummy off
a Parkchester roof and arrested the young filmmaker. His only explanation was
"but we're making a movie!"
After being sent to parochial school just after
World War II, Romero began to fear the atomic bomb.
1953 The Man From the Meteor
1962 Expostulations (16mm)
The Latent Image was established in 1961 by
George Romero. Enlisting Richard Ricci and Russ Streiner, $500, a 16mm Bolex
camera, and a few lights. Russo would join them after he returned from military
service. Ricci found the Carson Street (Southside Pittsburgh) office where they
struggled to make ends meet, borrowing money, sometimes not eating for days,
just to pour more money into the business. Ricci was drafted into the military,
and as a going away present, he pre-paid the rent for six months. The work was
not always frequent. When it did come, Romero, Streiner and Ricci would work
themselves to exhaustion falling asleep on the studio floor. Oftentimes they
would not get paid for months.
Jack Szwergle, then-owner of the only movie lab
in Pittsburgh, is the man most responsible for allowing Romero to learn film
editing. "I went down there and asked how do you put sound on a movie? John
and his staff processed Expostulations, taught us what work prints were,
what edge numbers were. They allowed me to play around with the machines and
synchronizers. I was completely hooked." (Village Voice)
In 1963, in response to an ad looking for
investors, Vince Survinski donated $10,000 towards a film project scripted by
Rudy Ricci, Richard’s cousin. Though the project fell through, Survinski was
ready to donate another $10,000 under the terms that he could become a partner
in the business. Everyone agreed.
Larry Anderson, another partner in the company,
brought them the largest paying job they ever had: $1600 to do a commercial for
the Buhl Planetarium. It was a success, even for a low-budget commercial, and
even got screened during intermissions at area drive-in theaters.
Regional Industrial Development Corporation loaned the company $30,000 in 1964,
which allowed LI to move their office to Ft. Pitt Blvd in downtown Pittsburgh.
Most of their commercial work for high-profile companies like Heinz, Duke
and Iron City Beer, U.S. Steel, Alcoa and Calgon, cost around $6000 or less.
During the next three years they took top awards in the New York
International Film Festivals, 37 awards in all, beating out commercials that
cost up to ten times the budgets of each of Latent’s work. "We had gotten
a reputation in some circles as being an energetic nucleus of creative maniacs
who could make good films for those who couldn’t afford or didn’t want to
spend very much money," Russo wrote in 1984 in, "but most of the time
we were broke, frustrated and physically and mentally exhausted."
Romero, Russo and Ricci were having lunch at Samreny’s Restaurant on
Pittsburgh’s Market Street in January 1967 when Russo pitched the idea of
trying to make another full-length film with commercial potential – one that
would hopefully break them out of the ad business and into the movie industry.
Now they had a 35mm Arriflex purchased used for $3500, the cost of one
commercial. They decided the best way was to make a horror movie, or
"Monster Flick" as they called the project.
CONTINUE the story....
Feature Films As Director
1968 Night of the
Living Dead (Walter Reade Org.-Continental Distribution)
1971 There's Always
"The Affair". Available
as a bootleg.
Retitled "Season of the Witch" and in
soft porn markets as "Hungry Wives". Available
on video from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Previously released on VHS in the US on
Wizard Video (1981) and Vista Video (1986). In Japan on laserdisc (LVB-1016)
1973 The Crazies
Based on ‘The Mad People’ by Paul McCullough. Originally
"Code Name Trixie". Released as "City of the Mad People" in Italy and
Experiment 2000" in France. Available on video from Anchor Bay Entertainment.
1977 Martin (Laurel/United Film Distribution)
Released overseas as "Wampyr"
and "Return of the Living Vampires". Available on video and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Soundtrack by Donald Rubinstein on Varese Sarabande
1979 Dawn of the Dead (Laurel/United Film
1981 Knightriders (Laurel/United Film Distribution)
Originally scripted as
"Knights". Available on video from Anchor Bay
Entertainment. Soundtrack by Donald Rubinstein. A limited edition score
cassette was issued to crew and cast and has turned up in bootleg CDR form of
A French LP
1982 Creepshow (Laurel/Warner)
Released in 1986 overseas
1985 Day of the Dead
Screenplay by Stephen King. Available on DVD from Warner Home
Soundtrack by John Harrison.
Monkey Shines Based on Michael Stewart’s novella. Originally titled
"Ella". Available on DVD from MGM Home Video.
Two Evil Eyes (rel. 1991 by Taurus Entertainment)
Two tales in one film based on Edgar Allen Poe.
Romero directed "The Facts in the Case of M. Waldemar", Dario Argento
the second tale.
A German poster
The Dark Half Based on Stephen King novel. Released as
"Stark" overseas. Available on DVD from MGM Home Video. Soundtrack on Varese Sarabande Records.
Seen theatrically in very few areas and only
at festival screenings; Available on DVD and VHS from Trimark.
Films As Screenwriter Only
1987 Creepshow 2 (Laurel/New World)
1990 Tales From the Darkside: The Movie (Paramount)
Directed by John Harrison. Writer,
"Cat From Hell" segment.
1990 Night of the Living
by Tom Savini.
Feature Films With Cameos
1981 Document of the Dead
Flight of the Spruce Goose (Japan)
Morgan Stewart's Coming Home
Shot in Pittsburgh. George plays a teacher named
Jon Cryer comedy features a George Romero
impersonator signing copies of a hardcover Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh in
a mall's Waldenbooks.
1988 Lightning Over Braddock: A Rustbowl
1991 Silence of the Lambs
Jonathan Demme's Best Picture of 1991
Oscar winner shot in
Pittsburgh. George plays a security officer in the hotel.
1970 At Play With the Angels (unreleased 30min.
Films Ghost Directed
(Romero shot the graphic death scenes for US release; Umberto Lenzi film)
Films That Almost Were
1965 Whine of the Fawn (screenplay)
1977 Attack of the Zilches
1978 Gunperson (1973 treatment - an all female Western); Shoo
Be Doo Be Moon (Rudy Ricci-script)
1979 Salem's Lot; The Necronomicron
1982 Frankenstein (teleplay treatment); The Phantom Strikes (Laurel)
1983 Firestarter (offered directing duties)
1985 Invasion of the Spaghetti Monsters (Laurel)
1986 Mayday; Mongrel: The Legend of Copperhead (for
Marvel/Laurel); Pet Sematary (Laurel)
1987 War of the Worlds (Paramount); Whiz Kid
Creepshow 3; The Stand; Graveyard Shift
(exec. prod. for New World)
1993 The Black Mariah; Unholy Fire; Before I Wake (New Line)
1994 Jacaranda Joe (Sanibel Films)
Evil (S.T.A.R.S.) (Constantin Films);
Night of the Living Dead TV series (Granada TV)
2000 The Ill; Carnivore; The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
2001 The Assassination; "Dead Reckoning"; Grundy
Tales From the Darkside
1983 "Trick Or Treat" (pilot teleplay/director)
1985 "The Devil's Advocate" (teleplay)
1987 "The Baker's Dozen" (teleplay based on "The Gingerbread
Witch" by Scott Edelman)
"Circus" (based on a short story by Sydney Bounds)
1999 The Misfits "Scream" (featured in Bruiser)
Biohazard: Resident Evil II (Capcom Japan)
1973 The Winners (* producer only)
Kareem Abdul Jabbar: Nobody Roots For Goliath
Mario Andretti: Driver
Lou Brock: The Thief
Franco Harris: Good Luck On Sunday
Reggie Jackson: One-Man Wild Bunch
NFL Films: The 27th Team
Johnny Rutherford: The 11-Year Odyssey
Bruno Sammartino: Strong Man
O.J. Simpson: Juice On the Loose
Willie Stargell: What If I Didn't Play Basketball?
Tom Weiskoff: On Tour
The WFL Story
Documentary/TV Guest Appearances
1973 The Independent Filmmaker (Latent Image)
1982 Nightcap (PBS)
1985 Entertainment Tonight (on the set of Day of the Dead)
West 57th (Romero
PM Magazine (on Day
1986 Fangoria's Scream Greats Vol. 1
1987 Drive-In Madness
1988 Movietime! (On the set of Monkey Shines)
1989 Incredibly Strange Film Show
Good Morning America
(on set of Two Evil Eyes)
1990 Horror Hall of Fame (Night/Living Dead honor)
Inside Edition (on
the set of Night remake)
MTV's The Big
Picture (Night remake)
1993 Night of the Living Dead 25th Anniversary Documentary
1994 SciFi Channel TV commercial
1995 Emotion Perfect Collection interview (a.k.a. House of George
1998 Cinemax "Romerothon" host
1999 TNT MonsterVision "Creepshow" broadcast host
2000 American Nightmare (aired on Independent Film Channel)
2002 The Directors (aired on Encore Channel)
Mystery Channel Halloween
1981 "Clay" short story in Modern Masters of Horror (published
by Coward, McCann & Geoghegan)
1974 Night of the Living Dead Novel Preface
1978 Martin Novel co-author with Suzanna Sparrow
1979 Dawn of the Dead Novel co-author with Suzanna Sparrow
1983 Grande Illusions Intro
1985 Night of the Living Dead Filmbook Preface
1986 Book of the Dead Foreward
1987 The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh Biography
2000 The Death of Death Web Novel