After getting back from the insanity that swallows you whole at Comic Con, one thing was for certain... there were a crapload of zombies roaming San Diego. Everywhere you turn, the living dead were walking the convention center grounds looking for tasty human delicacies. Okay, thankfully they weren’t too hungry and nobody had been bitten that I know of, yet this heavy dose of flesh eaters reminded me of an old classic that seemed worth re-visiting. Yes kiddies, it’s time for Bob Clark’s CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, a bizarre NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD rip-off that even holds up on its own wacky merits. As silly as it may be, DEAD THINGS most certainly terrified a group of drive-in movie watchers in its time. Maybe some of them even peed in their pants.
CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (1973)
Alan Ormsby plays a pretentious “director” who brings hired actors to a dark and creepy island. Hidden on the island is a spooky graveyard where the gang plans on trying out a little magic to conjure the dead… and play a prank or two. The problem is, when they dig up a corpse for real and perform a ritual to bring him back, the news spreads to all the bodies lying underground. And once they are invited to the party, they come knocking. Sure this feels like somebody really wanted to be George Romero on acid, and there is a heavy dose of humor, but dammit sometimes it works really well. The rip off factor may be distracting for some yet it sort of helps CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS with its odd dose of goofiness.
Alan’s character is such an awful human being that it is really hard to root for this guy. Somehow though, it makes the film work a little bit better since he is so ridiculously pompous. The rest of the characters are obnoxious and actor-like that you have a hard time caring about any of them. Yet some of the dialogue is surprisingly funny, especially coming from the quick witted Val (Valerie Mamches). You see, this director is threatening to fire his actors if they don’t play along and Val is the only one to stand up to Alan. Of course all the ridiculous yapping doesn’t matter if the end doesn’t work and for the most part it does. Its zombie action with crazy dumb choices from the living characters so who the hell cares if they live or die?
BEST SCENE TO GET YOUR DATE HOT AND BOTHERED!
Not a f*cking thing! Don’t get me wrong, for 1972 the chicks here were hot enough. Yet for a horror movie with a bunch of actors on a deserted island with a creepy cemetery, it’d be nice to have a little bit of sexual intercourse. Even the gay dudes are used for comic relief so not a single guy or gal out there will be getting off on this flick.
SCENE THAT WILL HAVE YOU LAUGH SILLY
The final twenty minutes or so of this chiller iare pretty creepy. However, once they get inside the cottage Clark decides to go for a slow motion effect at nearly the very end of the film and it is so damn funny. Corpse after corpse they come rushing in falling all over each other. Come on man, things were going so well, what the hell with the slapstick zombies?
SCENE THAT WILL HAVE HER/HIM JUMPING IN YOUR ARMS!
The first real zombie kill happens nearly seventy-five minutes in and that is when the action begins. Since the audience has been patiently waiting for some good ole’ scary cinema it kind of creeps up on you and that is a good thing – for the patient kind. Once things get started however, CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS has some really freaky moments within. The walking dead are vicious and out for blood and when they come rushing out of the darkness, you’ve got yourself a decent payoff. Even the make-up is impressive for that time and budget… yup, these undead creatures may actually scare you.
GROOVE TO THE MUSIC!
The sound design on this f*cker is fantastic! The use of unearthly moans, crickets, frogs and other strange echoing sounds should really be used more often. Carl Zittrer did the original music and quite honestly you hardly can tell that it is music half the time, it seems like a dreary f*cking nightmare. I want to hear more of this type of sound in modern horror… can somebody get on that please?
AN IDEAL DOUBLE BILL WITH:
If you are still needing a Seventies fix, how about a strange mix of vampires, zombies and the occult? What do you say, LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH! This flick feels like some sort of answer to all the Satanic scares that people reacted to at that time. While JESSICA is arguably the better film between the two, it would be a slow burn blast and a half to watch both of these two flicks together… just make sure your date is not the living dead.