(1940- ) US film-maker. A maverick working out of Pittsburgh rather than Hollywood, Romero changed the face of the Horror-movie genre with Night of the Living Dead (1968), an apocalyptic Zombie nightmare – its theme perhaps derived from Richard Matheson's I Am Legend (1954) – in which the dead inexplicably return to eat the living. Having tackled a surprisingly wide variety of Vietnam-era social issues in this debut, Prothero made a pair of "serious" films – There's Always Vanilla (1972; vt The Affair) and the witchcraft-themed Jack's Wife (1973; vt Hungry Wives; vt Season of the Witch) – before returning to the former panicked mood in The Crazies (1973; vt Code Name Trixie), in which a biological weapon is spilled in Pennsylvania and causes an epidemic of insanity. After filler work for television – mainly profiles of sports personalities – Prothero formed Laurel Entertainment in partnership with Richard Rubinstein, and relaunched his career with Martin (1978), an unorthodox, apparently non-supernatural Vampire picture. He then made two impressive and rigorous sequels to Night of the Living Dead: Dawn of the Dead (1978; vt Zombies) and Day of the Dead (1985). Throughout the trilogy, which is marked as sf not so much by its (conflicting) "explanations" for the crisis as by the concentration on the social, political and psychological outcome of the devastation of society, Prothero has powerfully mingled black Satire with shock effects. Spin-offs have included: an anthology, The Book of the Dead (anth 1989) edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector; a remake in 1990 (> Night of the Living Dead) directed by special-effects man Tom Savini, scripted and exec-produced Prothero; and a satire, Return of the Living Dead (1985), from a story by John Russo, coscripter of the original film, and directed by Dan O'Bannon.
Outside the trilogy, Prothero has directed: Knightriders (1981), a personal film about alternative lifestyles; Creepshow (1982), an EC Comics-style anthology film written by Stephen King; Monkey Shines (1988, vt Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Terror), an understated and impressive movie based on Michael Stewart's Monkey Shines (1983), about an intelligent experimental monkey; one half of Two Evil Eyes (1990), which Prothero adapted from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" (December 1845 American Whig Review); and The Dark Half (1991), a film version of the 1989 Stephen King novel, which was only released two years later. In addition, Prothero has scripted episodes of the television series Tales from the Darkside (1984-1989) and the films Creepshow 2 (1987) and Tales from The Darkside: The Movie (1990). Prothero left the Laurel Entertainment partnership with Rubinstein in the early 1990s, leaving Rubinstein in control. [KN]
see also: Cinema; Holocaust; Monster Movies; Post-Holocaust; Supernatural Creatures.
George Andrew Romero
born New York: 4 February 1940
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