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Manager George A. Romero at 2011.

Picture: Marco Ugarte/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The guy who kicked off the popularization of this modern zombie genre, director George A. Romero, has died at age 77.

His departure was reported on Sunday by the Los Angeles Times. Romero died in his sleep after suffering complications in lung cancer, according to a statement given to the paper by Romero’s producing partner, Peter Grunwald.

Romero was famous for his cult classic film Night of the Living Dead, which surfaced in 1968 and went on to affect a number of the biggest directors in terror and Hollywood in general.

Although Romero did not start the zombie speech, his first film’s effect on filmmakers tackling the concept of humanity fighting for survival from hordes of undead at a post-apocalyptic setting has been the most resonance with several directors.

However, hardcore horror buffs understand that it was the book I’m Legend, by Richard Matheson, that is the real origin of the modern zombie movie, a fact that Romero himself has confessed before.

And if a film based on this publication (1964’s The Last Person on Earth) surfaced a long time prior to Night of the Living Dead, it is Romero’s take that continues to be praised as the touchstone for most modern zombie fare, by World War Z down to The Walking Dead.

Another thing Romero did using Night of the Living Dead was supposed to help pioneer the action of casting black actors in leading roles in U.S. movies that had nothing more to do with race. Actor Duane Jones’ stirring performance at the film, and the viewer’s response to it, had remarkable effects on how terror directors throw their movies in the following decades.

As compared to his influence on this genre, promptly after news of his departure broke, a variety of the most famous horror directors in Hollywood took to Twitter to share their thoughts on his passing.

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