HOLLYWOOD — A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was unveiled Oct. 25 posthumously honoring horror filmmaker George Romero, best known for the first feature film he directed, “Night of the Living Dead.”
Filmmaker Edgar Wright, actor Malcolm McDowell and special effects make- up artist Greg Nicotero were among those attending the ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Hollywood Toy & Costume Store at 6604 Hollywood Blvd. near Whitley Avenue.
“It’s very apt, isn’t it, that George’s star would be outside a magic shop,” McDowell said. “The fact is, of course, that George made magic.”
McDowell said Romero’s films were “all about the human condition, about us.”
“And that was his great art,” he said. “He was a spectacular person and one of the rare things in our life today, a true American gentleman.”
Romero’s widow, Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, accepted the star on his behalf.
“The fact that fans nominated Mr. Romero for the Walk of Fame star speaks volumes of how loved he was for his work in the horror film genre and for being the person he was,” said Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame.
Romero died on July 16 from lung cancer at the age of 77.
Romero cobbled together $114,000 in the 1960s to be able to direct his first feature film, initially titled, “Night of the Flesh Eaters.” It was renamed “Night of the Living Dead” after landing a distributor.
Upon its release in 1968, “Night of the Living Dead,” was initially criticized for its on-screen excesses. However, it later became a landmark cult film and forever changed the horror genre.
With no heroes or redemptive meaning — only unstoppable nihilistic evil rampaging through small town America — the movie popularized the zombie apocalypse subgenre of horror, spawning numerous imitators throughout the ensuing decades.
Romero would complete the “Living Dead” trilogy by writing and directing “Dawn of the Dead” in 1978 and “Day of the Dead” in 1985.
The trilogy became a franchise in 2005 with the release of “Land of the Dead,” followed in 2007 by “Diary of the Dead” and “Survival of the Dead” in 2009. Romero wrote and directed all three films.
Romero also was the creator, co-executive producer and occasional writer for the 1984-88 syndicated horror anthology series, “Tales from the Dark Side.” He directed, co-wrote and was a producer of the 1993 film adaptation of the Stephen King horror novel “The Dark Half.”
Romero’s other films include: “Martin,” “Season of the Witch,” “The Crazies,” “Knight Riders,” “Creep Show,” “Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear” and “Two Evil Eyes.”
Romero was born Feb. 4, 1940, in New York City and became interested in filmmaking at a young age when he borrowed an 8mm camera from a wealthy uncle.
Inspired by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s opera, “Tales of Hoffmann,” Romero began making his own short films and was arrested at 14 years old after throwing a flaming dummy off the roof of a building while making “Man from the Meteor” in 1954.
While attending Suffield Academy in Connecticut, Romero made two 8mm shorts in 1956, “Gorilla” and “Earth Bottom,” the latter a geology documentary that won him a Future Scientists of America award.
Romero continued to make short films while a student at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh, including his first 16 mm film, “Slant,” in 1958. He worked as a grip on the classic 1959 Alfred Hitchcock thriller “North by Northwest.”
Romero received a bachelor’s degree in art, theater and design in 1960. He shot the feature-length “Expostulations: in 1962, a satirical anthology of loosely connected shorts.