Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things

By Brett Mullins

Released: 1972

Directed by Bob Clark; Written by Alan Ormsby

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is a low budget zombie comedy that hints at many seemingly taboo issues within society.

An eccentric theatre director, Alan (Alan Ormsby), leads his troupe to a small island that serves as a cemetery for deceased criminals. They proceed to situate themselves in the caretaker’s abode as Alan prepares for some unknown deed. The group marches to the graveyard where Alan begins a seance of sorts to call forth the dead from their slumber. This experiment appears to fail, so they trek back to the cabin, bringing one of the ‘stiffs’, Orville, for their amusement. Tensions soon begin to flare among the group regarding the morality of their recent actions, and, as soon as the troupe decides to depart, with or without their director, the dead rise from their graves to enact their revenge.

This is one of those films that is ‘so bad that it’s good;’ however, it’s just not that enjoyable of a watch. Many appear to hold low budget films to a lesser standard across the board, though this should only be true for some attributes, such as effects and familiar faces. With this considered, the effects are surprisingly well done. When the characters are wondering the island, a fog envelops the shot. As the film progresses, this fog acts as a base for the campy/creepy vibes to build from, as well as slightly obscuring the film’s low production quality.

The score of the film is excellent and exactly what one would expect from a ‘70s film. It features an electronic sound that often times appears as though it is mocking the film itself. Whether this was intended or not is unknown; however, it does greatly enhance the atmosphere of the film.

The film employs a ‘tongue in cheek’ style of dark humor that is quite endearing. Alan delivers several magniloquent monologue-esque rants detailing the events that are soon to transpire. These quickly become annoying, but are essential to enforcing the extent of the committed crimes. These are in addition to the themes of satanic worship, desecrating the dead, homosexuality, and possible necrophilia, all of which society has deemed taboo.

As the gravity of their actions slowly builds, so does the feeling that they are going to get just what they deserve. When the zombies spring to life, there is a sense of justice, irony and closure about the entire situation. This, however, does not overcome the many faults of the film, which severely hamper its watchability.

Rating: 4/10

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