Top 10 George A. Romero Films

Cult director George A. Romero’s most accomplished works derive from the fact that his first film single-handedly created an entire horror sub-genre. With his pivotal debut “Night of the Living Dead” in 1968 Romero captured the world’s attention by presenting a terrifying and frightening film that used the horror genre to comment on current political and human issues. Here are a few of the highlights of his career.

10. Bruiser (2000)

The story of a successful man who is submissive to everyone around him to the point where his face literally disappears and he is forced to regain his dignity and self worth in order to regain his identity and face back.

9. Creepshow (1982)

Stephen King and Romero together for one of the most disturbing, entertaining, and gross anthologies ever to come about and it’s presented as a live action comic book in the EC Comics tradition! The duo broke new ground with this film by opening up the anthology format and proving to audiences that a horror film can be funny as well as terrifying.

8. Two Evil Eyes (1990)

Romero’s The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar was an interesting Edgar Alan Poe adaptation that focused on character and story like all of his films yet steered clear away from the other trappings of his previous films such as the obsessive gore. These elements were saved for director Dario Argento’s contribution to the film The Black Cat. So, together Romero and Argento craft a modern day nightmare into the psyche that’s an A+ on both of the directors resumes.

7. The Crazies (1973)

Before “28 Days Later” this cautionary tale about a virus that is let loose in a small town presents the lengths at which the government will go to cover up their mistake. It’s also a tale of survival and the effects of mass hysteria and paranoia as people who were once your friends are now your enemies. The film was meant to inform the public that the government has its own agenda and it may not be the same as yours.

6. Monkey Shines (1988)

A psychological thriller that is carried mostly by one person and his monkey and that one person is immobile in a wheelchair. Not the greatest make up for a successful thriller but in Romero’s hands it’s a smart, complex cautionary tale about the dangers of experimental drugs on lab animals even if the ends do not justify the means.
Since it comes later in Romero’s career there is less gore and more reliance on suspense to terrify his audience and Romero proves that he is adept at using both.

5. Knightriders (1981)

Romero’s only non-horror film (unless you include the little seen and practically unavailable “There’s Always Vanilla”). This tale of a group of people living as knights of the middle ages in modern times is an engaging ensemble piece with some of the best performances in a Romero film to date. Romero has always presented human characters and this is no more apparent than in this film where the present day begins to infringe on the medieval culture of the knights threatening their way of life. Again, Romero stresses the influences of contemporary issues on a society which chooses to live in a time when life was simpler and better.

4. Day of the Dead (1985)

The second sequel to Romero’s dead trilogy is pessimistic in look and tone but presents a solution to the zombie apocalypse. That even through our ignorance there is the hope of a place out there for peace and tranquillity and it is this idea that drives the main characters from desperate beginning to brutal end. Romero wanted to end his trilogy with a sense of hope that was absent from the previous two films and there was no better ending than this (that is until “Land of the Dead”).

3. Martin (1977)

Hands down one of the most original vampire films ever to be released. Everything you think you know about vampires is turned on its head as the main title character relates the truth about vampires to a radio disk jockey. This doesn’t sound all that interesting but in Romero’s hands, he crafts a complex character study that encroaches on myth and legend and religion with an ending which is shocking yet fitting to the story you’ve just witnessed. Few films try to re-invent the vampire wheel and fewer still succeed as well as this one.

2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

There is no denying the contributions of this landmark film on the horror genre. It opened a lot of doors for independent filmmaking as well as for people who wanted a deeper meaning in their horror films. In many circles it is considered the “Citizen Kane” of the horror genre and for good reason as this film broke new ground and took the genre into wonderful and unexplored directions.

1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Romero’s sequel to “Night of the Living Dead” ups the ante on gore but remains faithful to his continued allegiance to tell thought provoking stories that comment on our society. By taking place primarily in a strip mall Romero comments on our need for consumerism. It’s a thought provoking, character driven film that is the pantheon of all zombie-based films.

Written and compiled by Kevin Powers. Kevin is a filmmaker, producer, and writer. He starred in independent film “Jack O’Lantern”, and has produced the films “Hell’s End” and “Bad Land” for Southlan-Films. His written work has appeared in Citizens of America and Indie Slate magazines. He also publishes film reviews and an online graphic novel at his website Broken Lighthouse Pictures.

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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    goregirl Reply

    Dawn, Night, Day and Martin would also be my TOP FOUR choices here in slightly different order.

    I haven’t seen Knightriders in years and years so I can’t comment there and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bruiser! I quite enjoyed Season Of The Witch though and would definitely include that one on my list of favourite Romero.

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    gelpi2010 Reply

    Good list. I’m glad to see “Day of the Dead” on the list – it is so underrated. “Martin” is a brilliant film. My only complaint is that you didn’t include “Season of the Witch” (aka Hungry Wives). I think it is much better than “Bruise.” I think “The Dark Half” is better than “Bruise” too. Okay, I hated “Bruise” [smile]

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    Dan Reply

    I’m going to have to put Season of the Witch on my to-see list – sounds like a popula film. Romero is a director I’m a fan of but I shamefully haven’t seen enough of his films to put together a top 10 myself. So I’d like to thank Kevin for contributing the George Romero article above.

    @goregirl: I’m intrigued to know how you’d order them. I’m a huge fan of the ‘Dead’ trilogy but I just favour Dawn over Night.

    @gelpi2010: thanks for dropping by. The Dark Half is one of the better Stephen King book-to-screen adaptations so I would have to find a place for it in my own Romero Top 10.

    Editor, Top10Films

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    Peter E. Reply

    Hey Dan! Fun list!!! I don’t know much about Romero at all so it made for a much more educating read for me. I put a couple in my queue too. Horror is not my genre, but I always like to branch out and watch a good scary flick when the mood strikes.

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    Sarah Reply

    I love Martin. I love not knowing if he really was a vampire but just a different kind to the ones we were used to.

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    Will Reply

    Yeah, this list serves as a reminder that I need to see some more Romero movies! Dawn of the Dead is one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s so well made, with exceptional editing and fantastic Savini FX.

    I didn’t like Bruiser at all when I saw it many years ago. I liked Diary of the Dead (or even the poor Land of the Dead) much more than it. Has anyone seen Survival of the Dead yet? I’m looking forward to its DVD release soon, but I have heard some bad things about it.

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    goregirl Reply

    Hey Dan, When I say “slightly” I really mean “slightly”…I would still have Dawn as #1, living as #2, BUT…Day as #3 and Martin as #4. It would seem ” Bruiser” isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I must see all Romero so I threw it in the queue!

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    James Ewing Reply

    I really like Creepshow a lot. Such a fun film. I need to catch up with Romero as I’ve only seen a couple of his films.

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