George Romero was 27 when he made the zombie movie Night of the Living Dead on a $114,000 budget. He went on to make over 20 movies, many with a horror or zombie apocalypse theme. He died today at age 77 from lung cancer.

Sad to hear my favorite collaborator–and good old friend–George Romero has died. George, there will never be another like you.

— Stephen King (@StephenKing) July 16, 2017

R.I.P. George Romero (for now) pic.twitter.com/JQvDS08VyV

— ˗ˏˋ ᴀᴅᴀᴍ ᴇʟʟɪs ˊˎ˗‏ (@moby_dickhead) July 16, 2017

In recent years, as the zombie genre had a resurgence, Romero wasn’t always a fan. He told a British newspaper in 2013 that he’d been asked to do some episodes of “The Walking Dead,” but had no interest.

“Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally,” he told the Big Issue. “I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism, and I find that missing in what’s happening now.”

Romero took an intellectual view to his depiction of zombies, an approach he found lacking in some of the work that came after him.

“I grew up on these slow-moving-but-you-can’t-stop-them [creatures], where you’ve got to find the Achilles’ heel, or in this case, the Achilles’ brain,” Romero told The Times in 2005, referring to the organ whose destruction waylays a zombie. “In [the remake] they’re just dervishes, you don’t recognize any of them, there’s nothing to characterize them…. [But] I like to give even incidental zombies a bit of identification. I just think it’s a nice reminder that they’re us. They walked out of one life and into this.”

His critical eye could be trained on subjects beyond the undead. In 1988, he remarked on the street scene on Hollywood Boulevard to a Times reporter, making a prediction that proved true.

“I know they’re trying to clean up Hollywood Boulevard,” he said eyeing the odd, colorful crowd at rush hour. “But you’ll always be able to get a tattoo here. It’ll just cost more.”

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