My relationship with the horror genre has been… odd. As a kid, I was curious and appreciated horror, but scared easily. I remember reading a book about ghosts in grade school and having nightmares for years as a result. I loved Goosebumps but hated them. I moved from there to my teen years where I went through the pretty normal stage of liking gory, over the top slasher flicks. I didn’t really appreciate suspense and had fairly low brow tastes. However, I still scared easily so I didn’t love the genre. In fact, I stayed pretty far away from it.
When I got into college I was lost. I don’t want to get into why or the details, but eventually, it led me to “International Horror Films”. I was curious about the idea of film theory, and I thought that maybe taking a horror class would help me with my disconnected relationship with horror, it did. I became fascinated by it. By the larger thoughts behind these movies, why we feared the things that we did, what you could do with the genre as a whole, the idea of suspense vs surprise and their relationship to horror. I ate up everything the class offered and just kept going from there. I started watching the movies obsessively and finding books that delved more into film theory, especially where it dealt with horror. Looking at the history of horror and specific sub-genres.
I had a causal relationship at best with George A. Romero and zombies before this class, but it quickly changed. I was interested to learn what exactly Romero meant to the modern zombie and the level of his influence. Romero took the idea of zombies as they were and completely changed them to fit his vision. That change, his ideas, they shaped the way we looked at zombies (and zombie like beings) moving forward. To this day most people don’t even realize that what we know as a “zombie” was not even really in existence until him.
I love horror, and I specifically love zombie/zombie like works. I love the games like Left 4 Dead and State of Decay. I love the horror comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. I love the more serious horror works like Train to Busan and of course the “Of the Dead”s. I love the books like World War Z and the Living Dead Anthologies. I used to read The Walking Dead and other zombie graphic novels. I even wrote and self-published a series of short stories about zombies and the post outbreak world.
I love that zombies can focus on the outbreak itself and be gory over the top messes. I love that it can also be more focused on the human survival after a massive fall to an infectious illness. I love the character tropes we’ve learned to expect in this sub-genre. I love that people are constantly experimenting with what a zombie is and what you can do with that narrative. Despite the fact that so many people say “we have too many zombies” I never feel that way. I want more, I love it.
And it’s all because Romero.
He has had a profound impact on the things I enjoy the most. It’s because of him that some of my favorite works in various media types even exist.
He has had a profound impact on me as a writer. I am not done with writing horror, and I am certainly not done with writing about zombies. I cannot, will not, deny how much his works shape me and my desires to write those types of stories.
So thank you, George A. Romero. Thank you for giving us such great works and creating a whole new sub-genre that has developed into something that seems to keep growing. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for scaring me. You will be missed.