George A. Romero, who directed the 1968 cult classic “Night of the Living Dead,” died Sunday in Toronto, his manager Chris Roe announced. He was 77.

After a brief and “aggressive” battle with lung cancer, Romero died in his sleep, Roe said in a statement posted on Facebook.

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"Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero passed away 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. 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," Roe’s statement read.

Romero, also known as “godfather of the dead” or “the father of the zombie movie,” created the zombie film genre with “Night of the Living Dead” — in which the dead came back to life to eat the flesh of living beings. The movie was made with a budget of about $100,000 and it was Romero’s directorial debut. In 1999, the movie was inducted into the National Registry of Films by the Library of Congress. Romero went to write and direct five sequels to the movie including the 1978 hit “Dawn of the Dead.”

“The zombies, they could be anything,” Romero told the Associated Press in 2008. “They could be an avalanche, they could be a hurricane. It’s a disaster out there. The stories are about how people fail to respond in the proper way. They fail to address it. They keep trying to stick where they are, instead of recognizing maybe this is too big for us to try to maintain. That’s the part of it that I’ve always enjoyed.”

Born in the Bronx borough of New York on Feb. 4, 1940, Romero was interested in telling stories about monsters that are known to the people they frighten, his business partner Peter Grunwald told Reuters.

"They're not crazy, fantastical monsters. They're our neighbors, our relatives, our friends. They're kind of scarier for that, scarier than big, special effects, sci-fi monsters," Grunwald said.

According to Grunwald, Romero influenced filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez and Wes Craven.

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Apart from terrorizing his audience with the flesh-eating ghouls, Romero sent across a social commentary through his zombie movies.

"They are multi-purpose, you can't really get angry at them, they have no hidden agendas, they are what they are. I sympathize with them. My stories have always been more about the humans and the mistakes that they make and the zombies are just sort of out there. ... They're the disaster that everyone is facing, but my stories are more about the humans," Romero once said.

Romero also directed the 1978 vampire movie "Martin" and joined hands with horror writer Stephen King for the 1982 film "Creepshow." Romero also directed "The Dark Half" in 1993 which is an adaptation of a King’s novel.