Sunday, March 6, 2011

#212. Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1973)


Directed By: Bob Clark

Starring: Alan Ormsby, Valerie Mamches, Jeff Gillen




Tag line: "Experience the unexpected terror of rising rotting flesh..."

Trivia:  The names on the tombstones are the names of various crew members






Produced on a budget of just $70,000, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things is billed as a horror/comedy, and despite the limited funds at their disposal, director Bob Clark and his team were able to create some truly frightening zombies. 

As for the comedy, well...that's another matter. 

Alan (Alan Ormsby), the director of a theater troupe, drags his entire company off to a remote island cemetery, where he plans to perform a ritual that will bring the dead back to life. After setting up headquarters in an abandoned house, Alan and the others make their way to the cemetery, exhume the remains of a man named Orville (Seth Sklarey) and act out the ceremony. But when the corpses don't climb out of their graves, Alan remedies his disappointment by hauling Orville's body back to the house as a sort of “consolation prize”. Yet before the night is over, they'll learn, to their amazement and horror, that the ceremony wasn't the total failure they thought it to be. 

I was genuinely stunned when I saw how little it cost to make this film, mostly because the zombies were damned impressive. So, kudos to Benita Friedman, Lee James O'Donnell and Judy Whalen, the make-up artists on Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, as well as Alan Ornsby, the film's star, who's also credited as “Special Makeup Creator”. Together, these four crafted something remarkable. In fact, my only complaint about the zombies is it took far too long for them to show up! 

Leading me to the comedy portion of the film, most of which I found devoid of any humor. Now, it's not a complete travesty; there are a few funny scenes in the cemetery, like the 'practical joke' Alan plays on his troupe as they're digging up Orville's body. But the film falls flat shortly after the action shifts back to the house, where Alan orchestrates a bizarre wedding, during which he 'marries' Orville's corpse. The entire sequence was meant to be comedic, yet never develops into anything of substance, and I think the performances are the reason why. As much as I credit Ormsby for his contributions in the make-up department, I have to also point out his turn as Alan was far from adequate, and, unfortunately, the supporting cast doesn't fare much better.  The fact that such a large amount of time is spent in their company only magnifies the problem, and the middle of the film suffers for it. 

That said, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things is still a movie I would recommend; along with being a fine example of low-budget film making, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things stands as a testament to what can be accomplished with a little money, and a lot of imagination.








6 comments:

Anonymous said...

have not heard of this one. will check it out. many people nowadays forget about inflation and while $70,000 was not a monumental big budget project, it would value almost $400,000 in today's market, so it is not as low of a budget as you might expect.

bob clark was good in his earlier movies so i am curious on this one, later on he faultered big time.

i am looking forward to the hammer productions podcast, i like the feel of older horror, the kids now a days got to see major gore and mutilation for it to be considered "good".

thank you also for providing extra horror movies during the week dr. shock.

pj

Dave Becker said...

PJ: Thanks for stopping by.

You make a good point with regards to the budget, but I think what threw me more than the amount was what Clark was able to accomplish make-up wise with it. Some of these zombies look as good as ones in million-dollar productions.

Again, I'd recommend checking out CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS. One, it's early Bob Clark, and 2. The make-up effects are impressive. But be ready to sit through some weak comedy, as well as some weak performances, to get to the action.

I'm also looking forward to the Hammer episode. I'm a fan of their films, and there's a few of them in this coming week's mix that I haven't seen yet. And while I can't say I don't appreciate the gore from time to time, I also love older horror movies. Hopefully, with Planet Macabre, we can expose a new generation to these classic films.

It's my pleasure to provide extra horror for the fans of Planet Macabre. Thanks so much for your excellent comment, and for listening to the Podcast.

Anonymous said...

Dr/Shock I clicked on your Bob Clark heading on the Movies by Director and this didn't come up. You might want to check that out. Hope that helps you out since you give us so much on Planet Macabre./Gervase

Dave Becker said...

Gervase: I am indeed in your debt.

I missed adding Bob Clark to the post tags, which is why this movie didn't show up when you clicked on his name.

Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. I do appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

trailer looks retarded but i do apprecaite the xtra horror moviez on ure blog

i can definitly c y this isnt in the chillz

givez us some mor good horror moviez shocker

smyth
phoenix az

Dave Becker said...

Smyth: Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment.

I'm glad you appreciate the extra horror films. There will definitely be many more in the coming weeks.

And while I did like certain aspects of CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, I'd have to say it would NOT be one I'd pick for the Chills of Yesteryear segment.

Thanks again for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.