Film director born in 1940 and raised New York City. Attended Carnegie Mellon University and upon graduation, began shooting mostly short films and commercials. Formed Image Ten Productions in the late 1960s with friends, all of whom contributed $10,000 apiece to produce what became one of the most celebrated American horror films of all time, Night of the Living Dead (1968). Shot in black and white on a limited budget of just over $100,000 it became a cult classic and earned back multitudes more than what it cost.
Next films, including There's Always Vanilla (1971), The Crazies (1973), Hungry Wives (1973) (where he met future wife Christine Forrest) and Martin (1977) were shot in or around Pittsburgh. In 1978, returned to the zombie genre with Dawn of the Dead (1978). Shooting in the Monroeville Mall during late-night hours, film depicted the sorrowful tale of four people who escape a zombie outbreak. Shot on just $1.5 million, the film earned over $40 million worldwide. Also marked first-time collaboration with make-up and effects artist Tom Savini.
Success led to bigger budgets and better talent for the filmmaker: Knightriders starring Ed Harris (1981), Creepshow (1982), and Day of the Dead (1985), The Dark Half (1993) and Bruiser (2000). His latest in the Dead Series, Land of the Dead, debuted in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2005.