The Father of Nightmares

Rest in peace George Romero, as the rest of us never will again.

By Neil Cohen

George A. Romero is the father of a million nightmares. I was only two years old when Night of the Living Dead came out in theaters, and while I was already in the formative years of my future twisted self, I did not receive the full psychic scars until I was twelve and sneaked in to a theater showing Dawn of the Dead. The television commercials alone were enough to induce pre-teen night terrors, but I had to go for the full horror immersion of the big screen.

Till that point, I cannot recall a single horror genre that provided a sustained visceral fear which remained after the film ended. It was not your typical, jump-scare type ghost story. The zombie films George Romero created attached to deeper emotions and fears. Fear of the unknown yet inevitable, such as what happens to your physical being as well as your loved ones after you die. Fear of strangers, as he was the first to fully exploit that the living could be as monstrous and evil as the dead. Fear of societal collapse and the end of such protections as police, military and hospitals.  Fear of sickness. Fear of being alone. And finally, fear of death – a slow, relentless foe that never leaves the back of your mind and from whom no one has yet escaped. I became an author for one reason: to add to the zombie catalog that has fascinated and frightened me for so long. Thanks for the terror, George.

–Neil Cohen, Author of zombie-themed trilogy: Exit Zero, Nuke Jersey, and Zombie Democracy.