Art and Experience: George A. Romero, who launched the zombie film genre with his 1968 “Night of the Living Dead,” died on Sunday, Variety has confirmed. He was 77.

The director died in his sleep following a battle with lung cancer, according to a statement from his manager Chris Roe.

“Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero passed away on Sunday July 16, listening to the score of ‘The Quiet Man,’ one of his all-time favorite films, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero at his side,” the statement said. “He died peacefully in his sleep, following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer, and leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time.”

Made in Pittsburgh on a budget of $114,000, “Night of the Living Dead” made $30 million and became a cult classic. Romero’s friends and associates in his Image Ten production company pooled their funds to make the film. Influenced by Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend,” the black and white film about a group of people trapped in a Pennsylvania farmhouse who fall prey to a horde of the undead was said to be a critique of capitalism during the counter-culture era.

Source: Variety