Zombie legends may have been around since the dawn of storytelling, but George Romero reinvented the creatures and catapulted them to monster superstardom many decades ago. Romero’s zombies are now the “classic” undead, and any of us who create or escape into zombie fiction owe a substantial debt to Mr. Romero (whether or not our preferred zombies are tools for satire or political criticism). He died in his sleep this week, at age seventy-seven—a fitting end to a man who caused so many of us sleepless nights.
Fear is a funny thing, quite often entertaining when we know our physical safety isn’t actually being threatened—just consider the popularity of scary movies, Stephen King, and adrenaline-pumping amusement park rides (well, those actually can be physically dangerous). Kids like to tell each other urban legends about ghosts and murderers, and they like to play practical jokes that will startle unsuspecting victims. All-in-all, fear mongering seems to be a pretty universal attribute (which explains a bit about present day politics), as is the afterglow of surviving a fright. Dealing with manufactured fear helps us prepare for facing the real thing, and there is never a shortage of truly scary things to worry about in the real world.
Writing Zombie Crusade allows us to create an alternate universe where hordes of voracious monsters threaten to consume humanity. Our creatures may (purposely) get mislabeled as zombies (thank you, George Romero), but the overall appeal of horror and apocalyptic fiction, as rebooted by Night of the Living Dead, will continue to inspire us and thousands like us.
George A. Romero, you will be misssed.