As the pioneering zombie masterpiece 'Night of the Living Dead' turns 50 years old this month, it’s as good a time as any to take a quick look back on the career of the horror genius behind it: George A. Romero.
While Romero died last year, his influence on contemporary horror culture is undeniable. Arguably the most prominent horror director of the second half of the 20thcentury, it’s hard to believe he got his professional start working for everybody’s favorite red sweater-wearing television host.
Romero once said in an interview that Fred Rogers was the first person "who trusted [him] enough to hire me to actually shoot a film," giving him the opportunity to direct several segments of the program while he was working to develop his little horror-comedy debut in the evenings.
It might be hard to imagine Mr. Rogers sitting down to watch one of Romero’s splatterfests but, according to the director, he actually did. What’s more - he liked them!
Romero said that Rogers went to see both 'Night of the Living Dead' and 'Dawn of the Dead', saying of the latter that it was "a lot of fun".
Romero did say that Rogers did "put his foot down," when Romero wanted to cast the actress behind Lady Aberlin in the movie, not wanting to compromise her image, but Romero didn’t begrudge him at all for that. Besides, we love the idea of the soft-spoken Fred Rogers putting his foot down on anything.
For those who want to see an early work from the horror master, check out this clip from 'Mr. Rogers Neighborhood', which Romeo has described as "the scariest film I ever made."