- George A. Romero Archival Collection, University of Pittsburgh
In early 2019, the University of Pittsburgh's University Library System acquired the George A. Romero Archival Collection from three separate sources: his widow, Suzanne Desrocher-Romero; his daughter, Tina Romero; and his business partner, Peter Grunwald. The collection is currently being processed and prepared for scholarly and public use. It holds various press and production items from Romero's seventeen feature-length films and scripts for many unproduced projects, as well as personal possessions and memorabilia—posters of films seen in his youth, personal and production photographs, comic books, and props from his films. Other materials include correspondence with artists and producers, artwork, shooting schedules, and ample audio-visual materials. One highlight on display at Hillman Library for the archive launch celebration on October 23rd was Ella, the monkey prop from Monkey Shines (1988). Perhaps the most intriguing items for researchers are the dozens of unproduced film and television screenplays, as well as the shooting and production scripts for Romero's finished films, many annotated with his handwritten notes. The collection holds several drafts of Romero's Resident Evil script adaptation, a project that many fans knew he worked on for many years but that was never realized. This unproduced project, and many others in the collection, shed light on Romero's drafting process and will allow researchers to see how his work evolved over the years of his career.
For scholars of the fantastic, the Romero Collection provides insight and research materials on one of the foremost horror auteurs working since the 1960s. Romero began working in film and television production while an undergraduate student at what is now Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Following some short films and work with local legends Fred Rogers and Bill Cardille, his career was launched in 1968 with the success of his independent debut zombie film Night of the Living Dead. Although many remember Romero only for making six zombie films, he was interested in telling many different kinds of stories: his credits include the romantic comedy There's Always Vanilla (1971), the vampire film Martin (1977), [End Page 112] and the TV series The Winners (1973-74), featuring acclaimed professional athletes such as Franco Harris and Reggie Jackson. Among the most exciting projects helmed by the George A. Romero Foundation, a close collaborating organization with the University of Pittsburgh, was the discovery and restoration of a lost Romero film, The Amusement Park, made in 1973. The film was commissioned by the Lutheran Services and intended to be a public service announcement about the importance of caring for elderly citizens. In Romero's hands, the subject matter becomes dizzyingly nightmarish; the Lutheran Services were dissatisfied with the result and the film was shelved and forgotten, even by Romero himself. As he moved on in his career, he became known for working closely and regularly with several notable artists in the horror community including Stephen King, Dario Argento, and Tom Savini. Many items in the collection address these collaborations, which resulted in such films as Creepshow (1982) and Two Evil Eyes (1990). Ample materials from all of these films will be available for research in the Romero Collection.
Although Romero was a well-known and respected filmmaker throughout his life, he struggled to finance his film projects in the 1980s and 1990s, and many productions never came to fruition. The longest gap in his career came between The Dark Half (1993) and Bruiser (2000). The time in between filmmakers' and other film industry workers' film releases may appear as an artistic dry spell to fans and audiences, but production materials in the collection demonstrate Romero's activity during and around those periods, providing insight into the difficulties of maintaining an independent filmmaking career. The collection materials show, furthermore, that Romero was actively working on projects in between all his major films. He was an avid, efficient reader and writer, and he was practiced in media of all kinds, from literature to comic books; in 2017, the year of his death, he published the children's book The Little World of Humongo Bongo. The items in the Romero Collection showcase Romero's...