The original idea for George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was for an alien comedy.
In early 1967, Romero, along with writer John A. Russo and actor Rudy Ricci, were working together at the Latent Image, their Pittsburgh-based commercial film company, when they decided it was time to try their hand at making a feature film. Though the effort eventually produced Night of the Living Dead, early concepts were very different. Russo initially thought of making a horror comedy about “hot-rodding” alien teens who would visit Earth, meet up with human teenagers, and generally cause mischief with the help of a cosmic pet called “The Mess.” The group’s budgetary constraints made this concept impossible, so Russo instead dreamed up an idea about a boy who runs away from home, only to discover a field of corpses under glass, which were rotting to the liking of alien creatures who would eventually consume them. Russo presented this idea to Romero, who latched on to the flesh-eating angle.
Find more insights on Romero’s zombie classic at 10 Facts About George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead on Mental Floss.