Director-writer-producer George Romero died on Sunday, July 16, 2017 in his sleep after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer,” according to a family statement. He was 77 years old.

Romero is loved and celebrated for his significant contribution to horror with Night of the Living Dead, which he co-wrote with John A. Russo and directed. The movie expressed fright and satire, led to several sequels, and showed filmmakers that scary horror flicks could be accomplished on a small budget.

He was born in the Bronx on February 4, 1940 and was a film lover since childhood. Romero studied at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, focused on art, theater, and design. His career as a director began with commercials and short films.

Romero’s quintessential zombie flick came out in 1968. The black and white flick, which was made for only $100,000, gained praise for its commentary on modern society while also being critiqued for the graphic violence.

In the Dead series he also directed Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and Survival of the Dead.

He followed Night of the Living Dead by directing Season of the Witch, The Crazies, Martin, Creepshow, Monkey Shines, The Dark Half, and Bruiser, as well as some films outside of horror like There’s Always Vanilla and Knightriders.

Romero wrote several of his directorial projects, including Season of the Witch, The Crazies, Monkey Shines, and The Dark Half. He also wrote Creepshow 2, episodes of Tales from the Darkside, a segment in Two Evil Eyes, and co-wrote George A. Romero Presents: Road of the Dead.