George A Romero, filmmaker of zombie classics including Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, has died aged 77.
He died peacefully in his sleep after suffering lung cancer, his long-time producing partner Peter Grunwald told the Los Angeles Times.
Romero was born in New York City in 1940. After graduating university in 1960, he began his career shooting short films and commercials before releasing Night of the Living Dead in 1968.
At the time it was criticised for what was deemed as explicit gore, but has become treasured as an important film in American history, selected by the Library of Congress for preservation.
In addition to jump-starting the zombie sub-genre, Night of the Living Dead has been praised for its provided sharp critiques of racism in 1960s USA and Cold War politics.
Romero's family told media that he died while listening to the score of one his favourite films, 1952's The Quiet Man. His wife Suzanne Desrocher Romero and daughter, Tina Romero, were at his side.
Tributes from the horror community are being posted online.