RIP George A. Romero --- Godfather of the Modern Zombie Genre (1940-2017)
Rick Vinyard
United States
Albuquerque
NM
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Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't deny the cultural impact George Romero had on the world when he fostered in the modern zombie era with the Night of the Living Dead.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_A._Romero

A few interesting obituaries:

Wired and a 2010 Wired article ‘Godfather of the Dead’ George A. Romero Talks Zombies.

Ars Technica

New York Times

Spiked

Whether it's Last Night on Earth, Zombicide, or just a good old game of Zombies!!!, we have spent many memorable nights fighting the living dead around our game table thanks to his idea of the zombie as an animated cannibalistic corpse rather than the bewitched victim of a voodoo curse.

From Game of Thrones to the Walking Dead, and the multitude of other cultural references (movies, comics, books, board games, video games) to zombies it's hard to fathom the full cultural impact of Romero's inspiration.

As if it wasn't enough to create the zombie genre, Romero followed up Night of the Living Dead with Dawn of the Dead.

Whether it's Dead Rising, Plants vs. Zombies, Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil, Red Dead Redemption, or Doom zombies are everywhere.

Thinking of the pervasiveness of the concept of the zombie throughout pop culture is almost exhausting, so I'll start things off limited to one entry only, and let everyone else add the rest.

To get a feel for Romero's impact, just check out these Wikipedia lists:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_zombie_films

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_zombie_video_games

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_zombie_novels

And, even here at BGG: Zombies

zombie zombie zombie zombie zombie zombie zombie zombie zombie
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1. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:679] [Average Rating:6.95 Unranked]
Board Game: Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game
Rick Vinyard
United States
Albuquerque
NM
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While we have played many zombie themed games, I think some of my best memories around the gaming table involve Last Night on Earth.

For several years (before the advent of Zombicide) this was a Halloween night staple, and it seemed each time we played it would have scripted out as a classic zombie movie.

In particular, I remember one Halloween night when it looked like the players were overwhelmed and lost. I think the scenario was (paraphrased) "kill x zombies".

The zombies had the players thoroughly surrounded and trapped. I don't remember the exact mix of cards played, but the preacher (my little brother) was about to be killed by a ton of zombies, and they were a long way from their target.

Someone managed to get a cleaver to the preacher and although he was rolling a ton of dice there were too many zombies and he needed sixes to hit.

He rolled the dice and a fistful of straight sixes came up as the preacher sliced and diced his way through the undead with the cleaver.

Everyone cheered and it seemed like a cinematic ending with a few more heroics from the nurse with her shotgun.
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2. Board Game: Shuffling Horror: Pittsburgh 68 [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:16533] [Average Rating:5.81 Unranked]
Board Game: Shuffling Horror: Pittsburgh 68
Kirk K

New Kensington
Pennsylvania
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Romero holds a special place in my heart as a hometown hero that put Pittsburgh on the map as the Zombie Capital of the World.

Pittsburgh 68 is a fun little party game, but more importantly for me, it gave me an reason to make the drive to Evans City to film my review and explore the locations of the original Night of the Living Dead for the first time. Standing alone in that same cemetery at the same gravestones shown in the movie was an feeling I'll never forget.

I'm very sad that with Romero's passing his contributions to the genre have ended, but I'm thankful for the legacy he left.
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3. Board Game: Dawn of the Dead [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:8761]
Board Game: Dawn of the Dead
Ken Feldman
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Dawn of the Dead was one of the midnight movies that played in theaters in the late '70s. I remember seeing it for the first time with a group of friends who had already seen it and they sneaked up behind me and grabbed my shoulders just as zombie grabbed a character on the screen. I must have jumped about 6 feet!

This game about the movie was fun to play too.
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4. Board Game: Normandy '44 [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:1430]
Board Game: Normandy '44
Bob Zurunkel
United States
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This may seem like an odd choice, but hear me out. I truly believe that Dawn of the Dead, in particular, paved the way for realistic depictions of violence in movies such as Saving Private Ryan.

In many ways, DOTD is a war movie, with the zombies only slightly less intelligent than the usual portrayal of the enemy in American movies.

The overall structure of DOTD is even similar to SPR, with an initial battle causing heavy friendly casualties; a journey involving smaller encounters with the enemy; ending with a siege that few of the protagonists survive.

I think that before audiences would accept the realistic depiction of violence in a war movie, they had to be conditioned to accept it in horror movies. Even the violence in Bonnie and Clyde, and The Wild Bunch is restrained in comparison to DOTD.
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5. Board Game: The Walking Dead: The Board Game [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:9265] [Average Rating:5.73 Unranked]
Board Game: The Walking Dead: The Board Game
Mat Thomsen
United States
Medway
Massachusetts
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The Romero chain I would like to follow ends with The Walking Dead.

In 1968, Romero created the modern zombie genre to illustrate very human social and political struggles. This is why the original, and many of the sequels, still hold up today.

Frank Darabont continued this tradition incredibly successfully not with zombies, but with prison, in The Shawshank Redemption. This was only the first of his collaborations with Stephen King. We then had The Green Mile, not quite as acclaimed or revered as Shawshank, but loads of social commentary to be sure.

The lesser known, most overlooked, and I think, most relevant to this discussion is Darabont's The Mist. This movie has all of the horror of both monsters and humans that Night of the Living Dead had. Here, it's Cthulu, even though it's unspoken, the military opened up a portal and released huge, tentacled, demonic aliens -- which, by the way, we hardly see because Darabont focuses on the people stuck in the store. It follows Romero's original formula to the letter, right down to the shocking ending! An ending, which I understand, that was a dealbreaker for Stephen King to get the movie made. He refused to let them change it.

Shortly after the Mist, Darabont became the initial creative force behind The Walking Dead, which, in large part, was responsible for the incredibly powerful resurgence of zombies in pop culture.
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