Film fans are reeling tonight from the losses of two certified Hollywood legends: beloved horror filmmaker George A. Romero and Oscar-winning character actor Martin Landau.
Romero all but single-handedly created modern zombie horror via his iconic 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. An error in the film’s copyright filing put it into the public domain, doing wonders for its visibility but not for Romero’s pocketbook. However, he turned that influential film into a series of “Dead” stories, including Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and Land of the Dead; in between those films, he directed the cult faves The Crazies, Martin, Knightriders, and Monkey Shines, as well as the Stephen King collaborations Creepshow and The Dark Half. King tweeted Sunday night:
Filmmaker Jordan Peele, who frequently acknowledged the echoes of Night of the Living Dead’s mixture of social commentary and horror in his recent hit Get Out, also paid tribute on Twitter:
Romero died Sunday, according to a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times, following a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer.” He was 77.
You can watch Night of the Living Dead here:
Martin Landau was one of the last remaining veterans of Hollywood’s Golden Age, a consummate professional who cut his teeth on the stage and live television before bowing on the silver screen in 1959, with the one-two punch of Lewis Milestone’s Pork Chop Hill and Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. He worked steadily, mostly in supporting roles, in all three mediums through the next three decades, becoming best known for his work on the original television version of Mission: Impossible.
But Landau (rather unexpectedly) flourished in his later years, beginning with an Oscar-nominated supporting performance in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1988 film Tucker: The Man and His Dream. He scored another nomination the following year, for his brilliant and complex turn as a morally challenged adulterer in Woody Allen’s masterpiece Crimes and Misdemeanors; he finally won the award five years later, for his wonderful turn as Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood.