George Romero, also know as the Zombie Master, has passed away at the age of 77, his family have said.

Romero was well known for his classic 'Night of the Living Dead'. The noted director died after a battle with lung cancer; the family said he died while listening to the soundtrack for 'The Quiet Man'.

Horror director, Eli Roth, said: "Hard to quantify how much he inspired me & what he did for cinema. Condolences to his family." Then adding: "Romero used genre to confront racism 50 years ago. He always had diverse casts, with Duane Jones as the heroic star of NOTLD."

Roth was not the only horror notable to voice his grief at Romero's passing. King of horror, Stephen King wrote: "Sad to hear my favourite collaborator and good old friend, George Romero has died. George, there will never be another like you."

Night of the Living Dead, along with being a classic film, reinvented the zombie genre, handing down rules about the undead that would stick for decades.

Romero was born in New York City in 1940, growing up in the Bronx. He later graduated from Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University.

After 'Night of the Living Dead' came 'Dawn of the Dead' and several other zombie films Romero made.

Speaking to the Associated Press nearly a decade ago, Romero spoke of why he loved the genre: "The zombies, they could be anything," he said "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."

George A Romero
Director George A. Romero poses for photographers before the screening of the film "Survival of the Dead" at the 66th Venice Film FestivalREUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo