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Romero’s Living Dead Legacy

Zombies have become such a popular part of our culture that people seem to have gotten desensitized to the fact that they are the dead come back to life out to eat everyone’s brains. There are a lot of iterations of zombies in pop culture, appearing in TV shows, comic books, video games and of course, movies. When discussing zombies and movies, the story always circles back to one name: George Romero. Romero’s “Living Dead” franchise arguably started the whole zombie craze. It gave form to a once abstract fear of a multitude of dead rising up. Here’s a crash course on the six movies that comprise the “Living Dead” series.

Night of The Living Dead (1968)

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The definitive zombie movie and the one that started it all, Night of the Living Dead is the title that most identify the zombie genre with. Featuring a group of characters trapped in a farmhouse that is besieged by the undead, this movie inspired a couple of remakes, five sequels, and made the entire nation fall in love with the zombie concept.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Ten years after Romero creates a classic, he teams up with another horror legend, Dario Argento, to put out Dawn of the Dead. This time, it’s not just a bunch of people in a farmhouse. It shows how the United States reacts to the zombie epidemic. Despite best efforts, things still end up sideways, and a group of survivors hole themselves up in a shopping mall in order to figure out how to handle the situation. This is considered to be one of the best zombie movies in history, and has also gotten the remake treatment.

Day of the Dead (1985)

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In this installment, the zombies have pretty much become the majority, with only a few members of the human race struggling to survive. This movie focuses on a group of scientists and soldiers hidden in a military facility trying to learn how to control the zombies after noticing that these creatures do have the capacity to learn.

Land of the Dead (2005)

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George Romero returns to modern day zombie filmmaking with Land of the Dead. The world at this point is a bunch of cities protected by electrified fences, with zombies barred from entering. With this, people in the cities enjoy some semblance of a normal life. But, picking up from where the previous movies left off, the zombies and their constant evolution learn to communicate, find a way around the fences. Chaos, as it has always done, ensues.

Diary of the Dead (2007)

This installment of the series is a tad unique as Romero experiments with elements of found footage style filmmaking for Diary of the Dead. This is not a direct sequel to the post zombie apocalyptic world that we’ve seen in the previous two movies, but it does occur in the same universe as the original trilogy, basically before the zombies took over.

Survival of the Dead (2009)

Featuring a group of National Guardsmen that appeared for a brief time in the previous movie, Survival of the Dead is about said group looking for a place to stay as the world buckles under the weight of the zombie disaster. They find an island where two feuding families reside, and adding zombies to that, disaster is inevitable.

Regardless of what you feel about Romero’s work, there is no denying his contributions to the horror genre. The scenarios might change, but his films reflect one constant theme: sometimes, the really scary people are the ones living.

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