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(Credit: Nicolas Genin)

Film

The only modern horror director that George Romero "loved"

@Russellisation

The ‘Father of the Zombie Film’ George Romero is an iconic film director, responsible for nurturing one of the most popular horror subgenres of all time. As much a father to the zombie as Mary Shelley was to the iconic Frankenstein’s monster, Romero planted the seed for the slow-walking, brain-eating ghouls to virally spread across horror cinema in classics such as Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead

Never one to shy away from a difficult conversation, the late George Romero rarely made a film merely for the thrill of it. From his debut 1968 film Night of the Living Dead to his final movie Survival of the Dead, whilst his on-screen characters were falling victim to a zombified mob, a venomous subtext spat beneath the surface, giving reason to the madness.

For, horror without meaning is vapid, as Romero said of Zach Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead: “It sort of lost its reason for being…There was nothing going on underneath”. Digging his fingers into the conversations of civil rights, the Vietnam War, and consumerism among many other topics, Romeo’s films would later inspire the likes of Jordan Peele and Danny Boyle who spiked their horrors with sociopolitical subtext. 

Elaborating, George Romero discussed his dislike for modern horror in an interview with TIME magazine in 2010, stating: “I don’t like the new trends in horror,” he explained, adding: “All this torture stuff seems really mean-spirited. People have forgotten how to laugh, and I don’t see anybody who’s using it as allegory”.

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Romero confessed, however, that there were some modern horror films that he did appreciate, noting Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth as a particular love. Professing his passion for the surreal fantasy horror film, Romero stated, “The guy I love right now is Guillermo del Toro…I’d love to make a film like Pan’s Labyrinth”.

Master of creature features and European romance, Guillermo del Toro has long championed the realm of science fiction fantasy, fascinating the industry with his boundless creativity. Bringing his distinct brand of fantastical horror to the forefront of the horror genre, watching a Guillermo del Toro genre film is to peer behind the branches and leaves of a fantastical land and stare into the heart of darkness. 

Following in the footsteps of the magical realism masters Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Márquez, del Toro creates a strange ethereal world in Pan’s Labyrinth where ancient beasts and humans coexist. The full story follows the stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer who escapes into the forest and subsequently into a world of eerie, captivating fantasy creatures. 

Branding some unforgettable creatures into the minds of audiences worldwide, Pan’s Labyrinth remains Guillermo del Toro’s finest film, with many hoping he can recreate such magic in his future filmography. 

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