George Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead (’68) and creator of the walking-dead zombie apocalypse genre that still plagues us today, has left the earth at age 77. Hugs and condolences. I own a Bluray of Night of the Living Dead but my all-time favorite Romero flick is Dawn of the Dead, which was largely shot at the Monroeville mall, which locals referred to as “mall of the dead.” In ’81 Romero directed Creepshow in the Monroeville area, and I visited the set to do a New York Post interview with Stephen King. (The best-selling author was playing an overall-wearing farmer.) Romero’s other films included Day of the Dead, The Crazies, Knightriders, Martin, Monkey Shines and The Dark Half. I always enjoyed that Romero was in The Silence of the Lambs for about 35 or 40 seconds. “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”

From Variety critic Joe Leydon: “While attending Loyola University in New Orleans back in the 1970s, I attended an evening screening of Night of the Living Dead in a large campus auditorium. The crowd (including me) was impressed and attentive. Indeed, at least one of my fellow students may have been a little too impressed and attentive.

“The first time a group of the shambling undead appeared, a shriek rang out from the darkness: ‘Don’t let them get me! Don’t let them get me!’ I figured someone was goofing off, or encouraging some kind of audience participation. (Only a couple years later such behavior would become commonplace at midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.) But then it happened a second time. Louder. And a third time. Louder still. By that point, it was quite obvious that whoever was screaming was totally, unabashedly, nearly-scared-to-death terrified.

“After the third outburst, two people — friends? faculty? security personnel? — more or less lifted this frightened fellow from his seat and carried him (gently, as far as I could tell) out of the auditorium. But not before the guy had managed to make some of us (again, including me) even more uneasy while watching Romero’s masterwork.

“Maybe his fear was a natural reaction, maybe it was, ahem, chemically enhanced. But, either way, that fear obviously was contagious. And how do I know this? Well, here’s the thing: None of the other people in the audience laughed when he screamed the second and third times. Come to think of it, as I recall, no one told him to shut the hell up, either.”

Wells reaction: The “don’t let them get me!” guy was either an asshole, a wimp or mentally challenged.