George A. Romero's Source of Inspiration

by emertens | created - 27 Mar 2012 | updated - 22 Oct 2012 | Public

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

As of August the 17th 2012, I cannot post (or reply to) comments anymore, because I don't have, nor do I want, a Facebook account.

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1. The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Not Rated | 86 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a disease turns all of humanity into the living dead, the last man on earth becomes a reluctant vampire hunter.

Directors: Ubaldo Ragona, Sidney Salkow | Stars: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi Stuart

Votes: 14,270

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".

2. The Day of the Triffids (1963)

Approved | 93 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    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.

Directors: Steve Sekely, Freddie Francis | Stars: Howard Keel, Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore

Votes: 6,134

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'.

3. The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

Approved | 62 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A crack test pilot lands to find the planet has been devastated by some unknown forces. There are a few survivors, so he organizes them in a plan to ward off control by a group of killer ... See full summary »

Director: Terence Fisher | Stars: Willard Parker, Virginia Field, Dennis Price, Thorley Walters

Votes: 1,097

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.

4. Five (1951)

Approved | 93 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    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.

Director: Arch Oboler | Stars: William Phipps, Susan Douglas Rubes, James Anderson, Charles Lampkin

Votes: 946

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.

5. The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959)

Not Rated | 95 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 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.

Director: Ranald MacDougall | Stars: Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens, Mel Ferrer

Votes: 2,088

More or less a remake (and a pretty good one) of the movie "Five" (see above). Harry Bellafonte stars as the main character.

6. Invisible Invaders (1959)

Approved | 67 min | Sci-Fi, Horror

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

Aliens, contacting scientist Adam Penner, inform him that they have been on the moon for twenty thousand years, undetected due to their invisibility, and have now decided to annihilate ... See full summary »

Director: Edward L. Cahn | Stars: John Agar, Jean Byron, Philip Tonge, Robert Hutton

Votes: 1,255

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.

7. Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)

Approved | 70 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Rate this
    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?

Director: Edward L. Cahn | Stars: Gregg Palmer, Allison Hayes, Autumn Russell, Joel Ashley

Votes: 716

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.

8. The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

Approved | 90 min | Horror

Rate this
    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 is helpless and asks professor James Forbes for help. The professor and his ... See full summary »

Director: John Gilling | Stars: André Morell, Diane Clare, Brook Williams, Jacqueline Pearce

Votes: 3,634

9. White Zombie (1932)

Passed | 69 min | Horror

Rate this
    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.

Director: Victor Halperin | Stars: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph Cawthorn, Robert Frazer

Votes: 7,567

10. Fiend Without a Face (1958)

Not Rated | 74 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    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.

Director: Arthur Crabtree | Stars: Marshall Thompson, Terry Kilburn, Kynaston Reeves, Kim Parker

Votes: 2,883

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. :-)

11. Not of This Earth (1957)

Approved | 67 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    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.

Director: Roger Corman | Stars: Paul Birch, Beverly Garland, Morgan Jones, William Roerick

Votes: 1,128

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!

12. The Birds (1963)

Passed | 119 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
87 Metascore

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.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette

Votes: 144,297 | Gross: $11.40M

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!

13. Hanno cambiato faccia (1971)

90 min | Drama, Horror

Rate this
    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.

Director: Corrado Farina | Stars: Adolfo Celi, Geraldine Hooper, Giuliano Esperati, Francesca Modigliani

Votes: 311

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...

14. Dead of Night (1974)

PG | 88 min | Horror

Rate this
    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.

Director: Bob Clark | Stars: John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Richard Backus, Henderson Forsythe

Votes: 3,440

A different type of zombie movie, rather original. It clearly comments on war.

15. I Bury the Living (1958)

Unrated | 77 min | Horror

Rate this
    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.

Director: Albert Band | Stars: Richard Boone, Theodore Bikel, Peggy Maurer, Howard Smith

Votes: 2,043

16. Damnation Alley (1977)

PG | 91 min | Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

In a post-apocalyptic world, a group of survivors travel and find other settlements in huge custom designed all terrain vehicles.

Director: Jack Smight | Stars: Jan-Michael Vincent, George Peppard, Dominique Sanda, Paul Winfield

Votes: 4,129 | Gross: $8.72M

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.

17. Blood Feast (1963)

Not Rated | 67 min | Horror

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 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.

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis | Stars: William Kerwin, Mal Arnold, Connie Mason, Lyn Bolton

Votes: 4,631 | Gross: $4.00M

Romero wasn't the inventor of gore...

18. Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)

Not Rated | 83 min | Horror

Rate this
    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.

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis | Stars: Connie Mason, William Kerwin, Jeffrey Allen, Shelby Livingston

Votes: 3,583

19. Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Not Rated | 79 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4/10 X  

Aliens resurrect dead humans as zombies and vampires to stop humanity from creating the Solaranite (a sort of sun-driven bomb).

Director: Edward D. Wood Jr. | Stars: Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, Mona McKinnon, Duke Moore

Votes: 31,947

20. The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Passed | 85 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

Rate this
    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.

Director: George Marshall | Stars: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Richard Carlson, Paul Lukas

Votes: 2,518

21. King of the Zombies (1941)

Passed | 67 min | Adventure, Comedy, Horror

Rate this
    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.

Director: Jean Yarbrough | Stars: Dick Purcell, Joan Woodbury, Mantan Moreland, Henry Victor

Votes: 1,598

22. I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Approved | 69 min | Fantasy, Horror

Rate this
    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.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James Ellison, Edith Barrett

Votes: 8,903

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.)

23. Target Earth (1954)

Approved | 75 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    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.

Director: Sherman A. Rose | Stars: Richard Denning, Kathleen Crowley, Virginia Grey, Richard Reeves

Votes: 825

24. Messiah of Evil (1973)

R | 90 min | Horror

Rate this
    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.

Directors: Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz | Stars: Michael Greer, Marianna Hill, Joy Bang, Anitra Ford

Votes: 2,196

A nice Lovecraft-y movie with a lot of living dead. See how they eat raw meat in a huge supermarket...

25. The Brain Eaters (1958)

60 min | Sci-Fi, Horror

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4/10 X  

Strange things are happening in Riverdale, Illinois. A huge, seemingly alien structure has been found jutting out of the earth. Sent to investigate the origin of the mysterious object, ... See full summary »

Director: Bruno VeSota | Stars: Ed Nelson, Alan Jay Factor, Cornelius Keefe, Joanna Lee

Votes: 946

26. The Crawling Eye (1958)

Unrated | 84 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

A series of decapitations on a Swiss mountainside appear to be connected to a mysterious radioactive cloud.

Director: Quentin Lawrence | Stars: Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, Janet Munro

Votes: 2,821