The Amazing Story of Dawn Doe, the Real Skeleton in Dawn of the Dead

It’s not too often that you find out that at least one of the skeletons in a horror movie is actually REAL. Yeah, soak that in for a moment and think about it, a deceased person’s bones were actually rented for the movie Dawn of the Dead. If that’s not enough the film makers thought that the skeleton needed a little bit more of a creepy look to it so they put a thin layer of latex on it and added some crispy rice cereal for effect and voila, instant mummified bones.

Creepy yeah?

As the writer Strangermains goes on to tell, a cop “thought these bones looked too authentic and reported his suspicions to the coroner”. How would the cop know to begin with? It was a hunch of course, but it was one that panned out. The coroner reported that the bones were indeed authentic and that no foul play was suspected in the demise of the individual they belonged to. But what was very interesting was that the skeleton was reportedly sold to a costume store that kept it for almost ten years before selling it to Costume World, where the officer had noticed it. It’s also important to note that the initial costume store had it between 1973 and 1982.

The creators of Dawn of the Dead used the skeleton in 1978, renting it from the costume store that had it so that they could display it in their movie. So that means that this very real skeleton found its way into a live action movie without anyone being the wiser. It seems like something that someone would have known about or at least would have thought to tell the film makers about, but obviously this wasn’t the case. Nowadays something like this simply wouldn’t fly since people tend to want to know everything about the materials going into a movie so that no one is offended and nothing is out of place.

I do wonder how the lodge that originally had the bones managed to procure it and why it was there, but all that was said in the original article is that it was used for “initiation rites”. That seems fairly ominous and maybe even a little disturbing to be honest.

Horror films are expected to be able to give people the willies, but there are some people no doubt that would call such a thing as this a bad omen. Disturbing the bones of the dead, not allowing a spirit to rest easily in the earth where they belong, that kind of thing. Those kind of warnings might have seemed a lot more potent when horror was just beginning to become a well-known and respected genre, but in today’s era very little ever seems to shock people. In fact what might have once terrified them will now make most of them laugh and ask for more.

This story doesn’t come as much of a shock considering how loosely some sets were run back in the day. But it is interesting to hear about.


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