George A. Romero: "Zombies Can’t Run"

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It was with a real heavy heart that I learned the passing of George Romero. I can't explain the effect his movies have had on cinema. He invented Zombies! I mean, what an accomplishment. I remember seeing "Night of the Living Dead" on late night cable, transfixed, amazed by its black and white horrors, and that is absolutely the way to see that 1967 classic. 

I don't just recommend that classic. Romero wasn't a one hit wonder. He ended up with a few note-worthy films in his career: "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead" being the other essentials to his collection. Another addition to the canon of essentials could be 1973's underrated "The Crazies," which, contrary to the aforementioned titles, had nothing to do with zombies, but instead focused on a virus that caused people to go insane in a small Pennsylvania town. It was remade this decade, but that film had none of the flair for horror that Romero brought to the original. 

He was still making movies well into his 70s, obsessed with zombies more than ever, while the genre was expanding all around him, his creating having become the monster that he didn't want it to become. You see, zombies were always a personal thing to Romero. As their creator, he always took to heart whatever depiction was happening in pop culture. Prime among them was, of course, "The Walking Dead," which became a real phenomenon for a few years. However, the zombies were different, they could run, something that basically started with 2002's "28 Days Later." Yes, the quicker pace at which zombies would chase you made them scarier, but it also deviated away from Romero's original vision.


“The dead can’t run. Their ankles would break. It doesn’t make sense to me,” Romero told NWA. “The dead move slowly. But they keep coming.”


One thing you have to understand is that a zombie can vary. The typical Romero zombie was a slow-moving thing, which fits quite well with the tense and slow pace of his films. He was the director that created the typical "zombie" monster as we know it. So I guess he would have a strong opinion on them. But what about the people that are bitten and then become zombies? Surely their health would still be in tact. Romero seemed to be bummed that people were messing with something that he created. He thoroughly enjoyed the notion of a PURE zombie, didn't we all, but this generation has embraced the sprinting zombie as the scarier monster. In a way it is, but it makes for a totally different experience.

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