Edgar Wright has paid tribute to Night Of The Living Dead director George A Romero after his death at the age of 77.
The creator of the classic horror films that satirised society died on Sunday after a brief battle with lung cancer, his manager said.
Wright, whose film Shaun Of The Dead is a riff on Romero’s classics, joined science fiction writer Stephen King and other Hollywood stars in marking their respects.
Writing on his website, Wright said he owes his career to the “King Of The Zombies”.
“It’s fair to say that without George A Romero, I would not have the career I have now. A lot of people owe George a huge debt of gratitude for the inspiration,” the 43-year-old said.
“His zombie films alone are the work of a major satirist, being highly vivid socio-political metaphors and sometimes better records of the years in which they were made than countless serious dramas.
“Knowing your movies, I have a feeling you will be back.”
Romero cast King in 1980s films Knightriders and Creepshow, which King wrote.
He said: “Sad to hear my favourite collaborator – and good old friend – George Romero has died. George, there will never be another like you.”
Manager Chris Roe said the “gentle giant” died listening to the score of one of his favourite films, The Quiet Man, with his wife Suzanne and their daughter Tina.
“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 film-making legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time,” he added.
Director and actor Eli Roth praised Romero for using the genre to combat racism while Get Out director Jordan Peele tweeted: “Romero started it.”
Actor Mark Gatiss also paid tribute to the “charming, legendary zombie king” while director Robert Rodriguez hailed him as a “true legend” who “started it all”.
Night Of The Living Dead became a cult classic after its release in 1968 and spawned the series that includes Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead.
The original is credited as creating now universal rules for zombie films, that the undead lurch slowly and prosper through biting humans who then return as zombies.
But Romero, who was born in New York, also used the beasts as metaphors with societal ills such as racism and class division.