Not a lot of directors can be said to have created an entire genre, but it's especially true of George A. Romero, the incredibly influential horror director who died today aged 77.

His 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead established what we know as zombie horror, which currently enjoys more of a presence in pop culture than ever before thanks to the success of films like World War Z and TV shows like The Walking Dead, amongst countless other projects.

Although there have been several evolutions of the modern zombie genre, it can all be traced back to Romero's 1968 film and its two sequels, Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985). All three films have been remade, some more than once.

Despite being almost singularly responsible to the zombie-centric pop culture world we currently live in, in many ways Romero's strongest legacy is how he successfully laced social commentary into his movies, starting with Night of the Living Dead, whose black leading man Duane Jones lent the film a tangible allegorical power.


Romero showed how much could be gained from putting some thought political into the horror genre, and it's an aspect of his filmography that continues to inspire.

Romero could be quite grumbly about some of the work that followed in his wake - he was famously opposed to the concept of 'running zombies' explored in films like 28 Days Later... (2002) and the 2004 Dawn of the Dawn remake. He said last year that World War Z and The Walking Dead killed the zombie genre.

Then there were Romero's own latter-day zombie films, which began with 2005's Land of the Dead, and got progresively crummier after that.

But he didn't only make zombie films, and some of his other movies are classics in their own right. To mark the loss of this monster talent, I will run down his top five movies here.

All respect to The Crazies (1973), Martin (1978) and The Dark Half (1992), all three of which are also great.

George A. Romero's Top 5 movies

5. Monkey Shines (1988)

An underrated late-career winner from Romero, this concerned a paraplegic with a helper monkey who becomes murderous. They'd totally do it with CGI now.

4. Creepshow (1982)
Also hugely influential, this collaboration with Stephen King is an aesthetically-faithful big screen ode to EC Horror Comics. A notable antecedent to Sin City (2005).

3. Day of the Dead (1985)
The third film of Romero's original zombie trilogy takes place in an underground army bunker, a nightmarish location well-exploited by the filmmaker. Features the best death scene of all three classics ("Choke on it...").

2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The original black and white movie still packs a serious punch, but hasn't aged quite as well as...

1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Doubling down on the themes and scope of the low-budget original, Romero's sequel took the action to the mall and indicted consumer culture while chopping off the tops of zombie's heads with helicoptor blades. A stone cold horror classic with more on its mind than most 'serious' movies.