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Nine Bits of Trivia for 'Night of the Living Dead'

This Sunday, KCET is taking a break from its usual programming of British people, world news and L.A. life to instead offer you some Halloween merriment in the form of flesh-eating ghouls. Yes, it's the original "Night of the Living Dead," the 1968 horror film that helped establish zombies as part of American pop culture.

Watch the trailer here -- and be forewarned that what you're about to see includes scenes of messy humans eating, messy human-eating and one (1) bare human bottom:

Even if you haven't seen it -- or haven't seen one of its descendants, such as "The Walking Dead" -- you probably know the rules: If a zombie bites you, you become a zombie, at which point you shuffle about the Earth in an endless effort to satisfy your hunger for fresh human flesh. (Zombies sure are picky-eaters, when you think about it.) That's pretty much common knowledge at this point. But here are some trivia bits that you maybe didn't know. (Full disclosure: IMDb trivia was totally our jumping off point for this list for giving us a jumping off point for this list. There's more there! Have a look!)

  1. Don't worry about this being a blood-soaked affair. Thanks to the magic of black and white film, director George Romero and crew could just use Bosco-brand chocolate syrup -- the same substance that Alfred Hitchcock used to stain the shower in "Psycho."
  2. Even though this film is a cornerstone of American zombie culture, the word "zombie" isn't used once. The term is widely known today, however, and according to Etymonline, it's been used to mean "a slow-witted person" since 1936!
  3. Among working titles for the film: "Monster Flick," "Night of the Flesh-Eaters" and "Night Anubis," the last being a reference to the jackal-headed Egyptian god of embalming, mummification and the afterlife. Let's be glad they changed that.
  4. "Night of the Living Dead" was filmed in Evans City, Pennsylvania, and the city's actual cemetery served as the setting for the first scene of the film. When Tom Savini directed the 1990 remake of "Living Dead," he tried to once again film it in Pennsylvania. While he succeeded, he allegedly was unable to use the original cemetery because a tornado had torn through in 1985 and, in the process, uprooted some of the headstones and destroyed some of the iconic structures. Though the cemetery was rebuilt, it's kind of symbolic, isn't it, this upturning of graves?
  5. Karl Hardman, who plays Harry in the film, was the real-life father of Kyra Schon, who plays his daughter in the film. Contrary to popular belief, he's actually not married to Marilyn Eastman, who plays his wife, Helen, in the film.
  6. The corpse eyes? Ping pong balls. You have to love the ingenuity.
  7. "Night of the Living Dead" is one of the most widely distributed films on home video. And while it's a great horror flick, that's not the only reason: It's also public domain. When the film was released, it lacked a copyright notice. The distributor had placed the legal boilerplate on a copy of the film back when it was still called "Night of the Flesh Eaters." When the title changed, those frames were removed but were never replaced.
  8. Though controversial when it first hit theaters, "Night of the Living Dead" was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1999 on grounds that it was "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant." Other films inducted that year? "The Ten Commandments," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Roman Holiday," "Do the Right Thing," "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Kiss Me Deadly."
  9. The famous trowel? The one used in that most disturbing of scenes? It was purchased by a superfan and today remains in a private collection.


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