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|Index||103 reviews in total|
This is one of those great horror movies where the only problems can be found in corporate faults. This movie is full of great characters (even the character you're supposed to hate is really interesting), with good acting to back up the great story. I also like how Alan's necrophiliac desires are really underplayed by how the film is made. Some people won't even catch them the first time they watch it, which gives this an oddly intellectual angle. Also, most of the make-up FX are truly amazing in such a low-budget movie. The close-ups of some of these zombies really make that obvious, which makes me wonder how people could trash on these excellent make-up jobs. You want to see some bad make-up? See "Redneck Zombies", it will redefine what bad make-up is for you. Anyway, this movie is good at the black humor and just as good with the chills. This being a PG film without hardly any blood, I was surprised to find that the zombie attack scenes had an intensity to them that greatly rivaled those in "NOTLD" without hardly any gore. (Still, I do want to see the uncut version available through some import services and see why that version was rated for people 18 and over!) Another thing I love about this movie is that it has some of the greatest atmosphere to it. It retains a classic, dark-foggy-night horror feel throughout, with even the slowest of moments having a definite creepiness to them. It's also great to see a horror movie with zombies that relies more on the characters than blood and guts for a change. Many criticize this for being too slow, but I enjoyed every minute of it. A very sadly underrated and ultimately overlooked masterpiece of indie horror.
Okay, I saw this when I was a kid in the 70's, and most people who saw
this as kids at that time didn't use much of their upstairs hard drives
to remember the lengthy build-up that is two thirds of this movie. The
movie was ghoulishly funny in an adult way that was really beyond a
tyke's comprehension, so kids tended to sit there for an hour
scratching their chins, understanding only vaguely that the acting
troupe performing satanic rituals on the "burial island" (or whatever
it is), is doing something monstrously, horribly WRONG. What they're
doing is worse than devil-worship, actually; they're being generally
disrespectful in a kind of place (a cemetery) that demands respect as a
first requirement. They're...asking for it.
Why these people are so bizarre is anybody's guess. Why the crazed leader of the theatre group, Alan (Alan Ormsby), has chosen this place and these activities for a night of fun is never explored. These people all simply appear to be warped. And, in the tradition of E.C. comics, transgressors are not given a chance to learn the error of their ways and repent; however silly and young and "sorry" you may be, in this universe, if you do something that the spirits of the dead strongly dislike, you will be punished--as in, you will be ripped unceremoniously apart by ghouls, and devoured. While screaming. And then the ghouls will steal your boat.
And the little kids watching this on late-night TV in the 70's seemed to understand this implicitly. It was not at all surprising what happened to this group of misguided transgressors. You may not have deeply understood the fine details of "why." But you knew SOMETHING TRULY AWFUL was going to happen to them, and that essentially, they deserved it. I remember when I watched it that before the film started, the station (Channel 9 out here in Los Angeles) would show scenes of the "good stuff" to get you jazzed, so, you knew some "zombie consequences" were coming down the pike. These people were seriously doomed. And for all its cheapness and crudity and cheesy performances, this is a very frightening and threatening flick, and no one who's seen it, I am willing to wager, has ever gone to a deserted cemetery to jokingly work Satanic rituals for the purpose of raising the dead. The rituals might actually work. And where would you be then?? Huh??? This is a feature length public service announcement to teach kids A.) not to work satanic rituals, because it's wrong, and B.) to always consider the feelings of other people, particularly dead people, because there are consequences to pissing people off--particularly dead people. As such, the film reenforced a lot of strong moral values, and did a lot of kids a lot of good, I feel.
This is a casual, home-made horror film. The goopy red blood has a little bit of peanut butter in it to make it flow better and give it some opacity. The actors are probably wearing clothes from their personal wardrobes, and those hairstyles are theirs as well. It looks like some nice sets were built (nice considering the almost nonexistent budget of this piece), but the tone is almost that of a backyard Halloween show. The participants are having fun more than anything else--college kids playing with masks and dirt and sticky stuff, just barely aware that they're making a twisted 70's morality play. This is grim, upsetting material, and irredeemably wicked and bizarre, but really somehow very enjoyable.
I first encountered this movie as a kid. The ad in the paper with Alan,
a corpse and the guy with the beanie...it was speaking to me in ways
that I wouldn't understand for years--black humor! I first saw it on
t.v. as a teen, long before I'd seen "Night Of The Living Dead," and it
spoke to me again. It was scary...but it was funny and sort of "wicked"
too. It went places I knew instinctively most movies did not, and I
loved it for that, as well as the fact that I knew others would NOT
The story is nothing remarkable--a bunch of hippy actors invade an island, raise the flesh-eating dead, and die horribly. What is memorable about this movie is the "execution." The characters are all wonderfully obnoxious actors. They spit campy, bitchy, memorable dialog and are all generally hateful and selfish, as all actors I've known tend to be. It comes off as phony, but most actors I know really talk and behave like the characters in this movie, as though they are "in a movie." The actors did a great job. You have a sense all the characters are going to die in great pain, especially the beautifully hateful, snivelling director of the theater company with the stripey bell-bottoms, and the anticipation of this is wonderful. When the zombies finally enact their revenge it's extremely satisfying.
The effects are cheap, but then, I've never had a problem with cheap zombie effects. It's the idea of a zombie that is so frightening, not the make-up necessarily. They are irrational and unrelenting, even if it's a rubber mask they're wearing. But the zombies in this movie are, for all that, fairly effective. They come late, but by then you've been nudged into believing the whole movie is just a lark, so they're all the more effective. When they hit, they hit as hard as "NOTLD." The music score is eerie and effective, as well as the locale. You can almost feel the fog creeping up on you.
Where this one really distinguishes itself, however, is the "weirdo" factor. It flirts with gay stereotypes and necrophilia, Satan worship, Jewish humor and seriously bad 70's hair and clothing. It's a lot smarter than it appears, or most would think, and smart isn't what most people want (or get) with their cheap exploitation horror. It's surprisingly grisly for a PG and far too tame for an R. It's too funny for horror and too creepy for comedy. In other words, it's perfect! I'm sorry to hear they intend to remake it, but hopefully with it's original creator at the helm it'll be watchable at least. Bob Clark is an oddity, to be sure--he went from this to another wonderful cheap-o zombie film ("Dead Of Night," aka about 40,000 other titles) and "Black Christmas," to..."A Christmas Story"?? "Porky's"?? "Baby Geniuses 2?" Hmm. Well, it almost makes me respect him more for defying description.
Here's a tip of that hat to a great, original film from one of it's many "children..."
"Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" is a very creepy and atmospheric zombie film about a group of hippie actors who go to a small island to practice satanism and succeed in raising the dead!The only problem is,the dead wants to eat them all.Surely one of my favourite horror flicks this one contains really cool zombies and dark,brooding atmosphere.The acting is surprisingly good,the location sets are spooky and there's also a sprinkle of black humour added for good measure.Only a little bit of gore,so fans of Italian zombie gut-munchers may be disappointed,but if you like scary horror movies this one is perfect for you.Anyway,check this movie out-you'll love this!And the ending is the most edge-of-your-seat ever.A must see!Highly recommended.
"Film strives for yucks, frequently succeeds. A late night fave, sporting
some excellent dead rising from their graves scenes as well as a selection
of groovy fashions." Cult Pics & Trash Flicks
"Campy, gory, sick and funny in about equal doses," Nigel Burrell. Is It Uncut.
There are many bad reviews written about this film that include its bad points, but here I'll focus on some of its merits
Tongue in cheek, little slapstick, creepy cemetery sequences by filmmakers with potential to prolong their careers, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things is a bad film, but a good bad film. Obviously ripping-off Night of the Living Dead ("That's not very original, Anya."), but perhaps inspiring The Evil Dead that would also feature a group of foolish kids awaking evil forces with the aid of an old book. Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things was directed by Bob Clark when he worked with cult icon, Ormsby. Together they also collaborated on the moody, Monkey's Paw' inspired Dead of Night (Deathdream). After co-directing Deranged with his co-star of Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Jeff Gillen, Ormsby went on to screenplay the alluring Cat People ('82) and silly Popcorn ('91). Before Clark moved on to comedies like A Christmas Story and Porkies, he directed the excellent Black Christmas ('74) and the interesting Murder by Decree ('79).
The obnoxious director, Alan (played by Ormsby himself), threatens his group of actors with unemployment unless they accompany him to a deserted island to perform some satanic rituals. After two thirds of the film, by now the cast have exhumed a corpse and attempted talking each other to death, incidents reach a peak as one of the women has a sudden break down (cue some overacting). The actors decide they've had enough and demand to leave the island immediately. It's too late to escape though, at this point you find yourself wondering if the film even feature the zombies promised in the title. The flesh hungry living dead close in on them and we're treated to the old boarding up the windows and doors routine and defending themselves from the growing horde of creatures outside.
Those merits I spoke of earlier? In my opinion, a true fan of old horror cannot truly hate this film. This predates Carpenter, Hooper, Craven and most other popular genre directors of today. It maybe difficult, but if you try overcoming the evident low budget, squinting to see what's happening past the abysmal lighting and photography and the laughable dialogue, then you'd probably enjoy the film a lot more. Ormsby himself has said that he's barely able watch Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things anymore as he hates himself acting in it, but admits that it does have some appealing attraction, hence the cult following.
I love this movie because it has a sense of humor, but more importantly a sense of style and play that is missing from current American cinema. My guess is that this movie turned out exactly how Bob Clark wanted it. The colors, costumes and performances are great symbols of an early seventies that I remember as a kid. This is the way i remember things looking, only slightly aggrandized. Alan Ormsby is funny, clever and effective as the theatre troupe/cult leader. I'm not sure if the cemetery in Miami is real or not, guessing it is to save money, but it is a perfect setting. Love this movie. CHeck out my www.zombielogicpress.com for more on zombies.
I had read extensively about this film and was very interested in actually seeing it, but my interest died down after reading a particular on-line review. I recently bought the film and boy, was I surprised! The movie left me breathless, like I was struck by lightning and didn't know what to do after the credits finished! While the storyline might not be highly original, most of the acting is good (especially Alan Ormsby and Valerie Mamches) and the atmosphere is unrelentingly chilling! While a lot of the humor is desperate and falls flat, there is undying tension during the corpse-mocking scenes. The audience is just waiting for Orville to jump up and avenge his humiliation! The island's graveyard is one of the spookiest in recent memory and the zombie resurrection scenes are the best I have EVER seen! The ending is not particularly original, but for some reason is unexpected. Highly recommended to fans of zombie horror films, but don't expect overly graphic special effects (i.e., Lucio Fulci's "Zombie"), as this is rated PG. Despite the rating, this would give kids more nightmares than some R-rated movies!
Wow, what an annoying cast of characters. I can't stand their sarcasm and
wit. Ormsby, a semi-major player in the horror world, plays the most
unbearable jerk. The film looks great (sets and make-up). I might have
honestly enjoyed it more with the sound off so I could not hear the endless
bickering. The ultra-gay characters don't work either.
It's not until late in the film that we see zombie action. It's more 'Night of the Living Dead' inspired than any zombie film I have ever seen. Everything I liked about the climax (zombies surround the house) was done better and first in 'NOTLD'.
The twisted stuff like Ormsby in bed with the corpse and the disturbed wife is all ruined by how constantly irritating the characters are. Another major set back is that the victims don't become zombies themselves after dying. If you are going to rip-off 'NOTLD', you might as well go all out. See this only if you've already seen all the Romero zombie movies and all the Italian zombie movies and are in serious need of a zombie fix.
This movie I have to admit is one of my most cherished guilty pleasures. The
whole movie makes me smile and shiver. The first half of the film is light,
and funny but there is something beneath it that creeps and crawls.
From the opening there is something that is unsettling, the atmosphere. All of the actors are very entertaining, and at times provide well done overacted performances. As the movie draws towards it's climax, it explodes and is creepy to the max. The whole mood changes. Very rarely do you get to see a movie do an about face on it's audience so well. Low budget heaven, this is how to make a good movie on little.
"I haven't laughed this hard since granny got caught in the wringer," says
one of the potheads in this hilarious quasi-spoof of all those Val Lewton
and George A. Romero walking-dead movies we have come to love (or loath,
depending on your personal taste) through the years.
In this story, a young actor pair play a ghoulish prank on the rest of their troupe after, one spooky night, they visit a cemetery island. Their artistic director, Alan, pretends to bring the dead back to life by conducting a highly stylized ritual.
Way too much screen time is misspent; the amateur dialog includes lame witticisms, melodrama and other kinds of unnecessary filler commentaries (And can't Alan stop that irritating laughter... way too much!). Once the action kicks in (which comes close to the end of this film), it's worth the wait.
I saw this one on a late-night, local station television program that ran films very much like this one... only this one scared me at the age of 13... but then again, you might laugh your way through it, until the bitter end... ...which is probably the reason, nowadays, why very few people still wear striped hip-huggers.
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