George A. Romero's Source of Inspiration

I'm sure it wasn't that hard to redefine a sub-genre.

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The Last Man on Earth (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
When a disease turns all of humanity into the living dead, the last man on earth becomes a reluctant vampire hunter. (86 mins.)
“ The first and best adaption of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend" (1954), a horror/sci-fi novel about a plague that ravages a futuristic Los Angeles in the 1970s. The deceased in I Am Legend return to life and prey on the uninfected.

Matheson was not impressed by Romero's interpretation (Night of the Living Dead), telling an interviewer, "It was [...] kind of cornball". In a later interview Matheson said, "'Homage' means 'I get to steal your work.' George Romero's a nice guy, though. I don't harbor any animosity toward him". ” - emertens
The Day of the Triffids (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
After an unusual meteor shower leaves most of the human population blind, a merchant navy officer must find a way to conquer tall, aggressive plants which are feeding on people and animals. (93 mins.)
Director: Steve Sekely
“ I always wonder why no one mentions the massive amount of similarities between 'Night of the Living Dead' and this movie. Or actually the novel on which it is based. The BBC TV series adaption of 1981 stays more true to the story.

It's about a post-apocalyptic world. A spectacular meteorite shower renders most of humanity blind, leading to the breakdown of society literally overnight. The story begins when the protagonist awakes in a hospital bed (28 Days Later... anyone?)
As societal norms collapse and the human race turns against itself, the survivors must fend off attacks from roving bands of the blind. These blind people are slowly dying because of some unknown decease. (In 'Night of the Living Dead' the dead have risen presumably due to radiation that was carried by a NASA satellite returning from Venus.)

At the same time the Triffids run amok amongst the helpless human population, slaughtering and feeding on them. (Triffids are slowly moving carnivorous human-sized plants.) The relentless plants force the surviving humans to abandon their cities and live in isolated rural hamlets and on islands.

The book is loaded with social commentary. Wiki-quote: "The novel contains many themes which are common in Wyndham's work: a depiction of the Soviet Union as an opaque, inscrutable menace, a central problem made worse by human greed and bickering, and a firm determination on the part of the author to not explicitly detail the origin of the threat faced by the protagonists. Other themes include the dissection of human nature from a range of standpoints, and male and female gender roles."

The movie has an scene where the protagonists are attacked by sighted prisoners which basically is quite similar to the bikers attack in 'Dawn of the Dead'. ” - emertens
The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A crack test pilot lands to find the planet has been devastated by some unknown forces. There are a few survivors... (62 mins.)
Director: Terence Fisher
“ An underrated post-apocalyptic film. It's a remake of "Target Earth" (see below). But with a big difference: this one features the dead-come-back-to-life. Very cool. It also deals with the fact that the survivors are not getting along with each other at all. Yeps, it was already a cliché long before 'Night of the Living Dead'. With Dennis Price as the bad guy and Thorley Walters as the fraidy drunk.

Although I usually hate remakes, I like this one far more than Target Earth. And not only because of the zombies. ” - emertens
Five (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The world is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. Only five Americans survive, including a pregnant woman, a neo-Nazi, a black man and a bank clerk. (93 mins.)
Director: Arch Oboler
“ A post-apocalyptic film about the survivors of an atomic bomb disaster. Very good and atmospheric. Even a small group of just five people aren't capable of getting along with each other. No zombies but a lot of social commentary. And it even deals with racism. Charles Lampkin's portrayal of the misfit in the surviving quintet was considered as a departure from the usual stereotypical black characters in the American cinematography of those times. ” - emertens
The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A miner trapped in a cave-in resurfaces, and upon discovering mankind has been wiped out in a nuclear holocaust, sets out to find other survivors. (95 mins.)
“ More or less a remake (and a pretty good one) of the movie "Five" (see above). Harry Bellafonte stars as the main character. ” - emertens
Invisible Invaders (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.0/10 X  
Aliens, contacting scientist Adam Penner, inform him that they have been on the moon for twenty thousand years... (67 mins.)
Director: Edward L. Cahn
“ Herds of living dead are taking over the world. They look the same as Romero's zombies. Although there are of course no naked women. ” - emertens
Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
Zombie-like, dead crewmen of a sunken ship have always prevented salvagers from claiming the wreck's legendary box of diamonds, but will a new group of treasure hunters succeed? (70 mins.)
Director: Edward L. Cahn
“ I agree it's not a masterpiece, but compared to a lot of other horror and sci-fi hokum from the 50's I think this movie is very underrated.

The zombies in this movie are cursed sailer-men who have to guard a treasure. They're almost invincible. Just see the movie poster on the left, where one of the zombies is stabbed with a knife in the throat. That's pretty wicked! And it's still a few years before 'Psycho'.
The zombies are often referred to as "The Walking Dead".

Very Entertaining. ” - emertens
The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Young workers are dying because of a mysterious epidemic in a little village in Cornwall. Doctor Thompson... (91 mins.)
Director: John Gilling
White Zombie (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A young man turns to a witch doctor to lure the woman he loves away from her fiancé, but instead turns her into a zombie slave. (69 mins.)
Director: Victor Halperin
Fiend Without a Face (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Invisible atomic monsters attack a U.S. Armed Forces base and the local residents. (75 mins.)
Director: Arthur Crabtree
“ People who are hiding in a barricaded house. Oh, and there's a guy who's brain wasn't completely sucked out, so he turned zombie-esk. And there's some nice "gore".
Remember: you can only kill the creatures if you shoot them through the brain. :-) ” - emertens
Not of This Earth (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
An alien agent from the distant planet Davana is sent to Earth via a high-tech matter transporter. There, he terrorizes Southern California in an attempt to acquire blood for his dying race, the result of a devastating nuclear war. (67 mins.)
Director: Roger Corman
“ I've added this one because of the ending. A man and a woman are talking with each other while visiting a graveyard. They don't see a walking man who's at a far distance behind them. While they're talking he is coming towards them. Although they still don't notice him, we - the audience - recognize him as the dead guy they're visiting at the moment. He's supposed to be buried! ” - emertens
The Birds (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. (119 mins.)
“ Again: People are hiding in a barricaded house. The End of the world is near...
Their trivial sorrows are gone. In a stress situation people change.

And lets not forget: the exploding gas-station! ” - emertens
They Have Changed Their Face (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In this allegory on capitalism, director of a known car corporation invites one of his employees to his country villa to give him the good news. He just got promoted. However, the old man is not what he seems and promotion has a price. (90 mins.)
Director: Corrado Farina
“ Vampires are infiltrating throughout humanity. This movie serves a lot of criticism on consumerism. Romero's "Dawn of.." wasn't the first film to deal with these kind of things. Of course not. It's the seventies... ” - emertens
Dead of Night (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A young man killed in Vietnam inexplicably returns home as a zombie. (88 mins.)
Director: Bob Clark
“ A different type of zombie movie, rather original.
It clearly comments on war. ” - emertens
I Bury the Living (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Cemetery director Robert Kraft discovers that by arbitrarily changing the status of plots from empty to occupied on the planogram causes the death of the plots' owners. (76 mins.)
Director: Albert Band
Damnation Alley (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
In an post-apocalyptic world, a group of survivors travel and find other settlements in huge custom designed all terrain vehicles. (91 mins.)
Director: Jack Smight
“ I've added this one, because of the following reason. In a post-apocalyptic world, a group of survivors enjoy themselves in a materialistic way. It can be regarded as a criticism on consumerism. ” - emertens
Blood Feast (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.0/10 X  
An Egyptian caterer kills various women in suburban Miami to use their body parts to bring to life a dormant Egyptian goddess, while an inept police detective tries to track him down. (67 mins.)
“ Romero wasn't the inventor of gore... ” - emertens
Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Six people are lured into a small Deep South town for a Centennial celebration where the residents proceed to kill them one by one as revenge for the town's destruction during the Civil War. (83 mins.)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.0/10 X  
Aliens resurrect dead humans as zombies and vampires to stop humanity from creating the Solaranite (a sort of sun-driven bomb). (79 mins.)
The Ghost Breakers (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A radio broadcaster, his quaking manservant, and an heiress investigate the mystery of a haunted castle in Cuba. (85 mins.)
Director: George Marshall
King of the Zombies (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
On a spooky island, three stranded travelers find an evil doctor working with foreign spies and in control of zombies. (67 mins.)
Director: Jean Yarbrough
I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A Canadian nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island. (69 mins.)
“ This movie is actually the far opposite - in a lot of ways - to Romero's movies about the living dead. Tourneur and Lewton were masters in creating atmosphere and suggestive horror. The cinematography and the music are all hauntingly beautiful. And it's all done so extremely subtle.
Nevertheless it's the most famous movie about zombies, before 1968. I don't know what Romero thought about it, or even if he had seen it. But there's a fair chance he did. (And sometimes people find their inspiration in things they don't like.) ” - emertens
Target Earth (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Giant robots from Venus invade Chicago. Stranded in the deserted city are strangers Frank and Nora. (75 mins.)
Director: Sherman A. Rose
Messiah of Evil (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A young woman goes searching for her missing artist father. Her journey takes her to a strange Californian seaside town governed by a mysterious undead cult. (90 mins.)
Director: Willard Huyck
“ A nice Lovecraft-y movie with a lot of living dead. See how they eat raw meat in a huge supermarket... ” - emertens
The Brain Eaters (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.0/10 X  
Strange things are happening in Riverdale, Illinois. A huge, seemingly alien structure has been found jutting out of the earth... (60 mins.)
Director: Bruno VeSota
The Crawling Eye (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  
A series of decapitations on a Swiss mountainside appear to be connected to a mysterious radioactive cloud. (84 mins.)