Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things Review

With a title this awesome, it just has to be good... right?

Wrong.


The Film

In a genre that encompasses such a diverse range of quality, Bob Clark holds the distinction of being the director of Black Christmas, my favourite horror film of all time (a film that still makes my skin crawl when I hear the voices on the phone), and the director of my least favourite horror film of all time Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (a mind-numbing 87 minutes of bad make-up and special effects, even worse acting and the most horrifically-coloured pants ever seen on screen).

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Set on a deserted island slash former resort slash cemetery, it is the story of Alan (Alan Ormsby), an obnoxious, pretentious ham of a director who thinks it would be great fun to bring the cast and crew (he calls them his "children") of his latest film to the island to raise the dead and play a few practical jokes. After abducting the resident caretaker and tying him to a tree as part of the festivities, Alan and a few of his helpers try to scare the Hell out of his "children". Then Alan has an idea: they will exhume the body of a recently-buried man named Orville Dunworth (Seth Sklarey) and bring him back to life. Donning a robe and reading an incantation from a book of the dead, he tries to do just that - when nothing appears to happen they take poor Orville back to the caretaker's cabin to have a little fun with him. Unfortunately for Alan his incantation worked and Orville and the other resurrected corpses are now in search of dinner and a little bit of revenge.

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Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things is Bob Clark's amateurish entry into the Zombie film sub-genre. Shot in fourteen days on a $70,000 budget, it's an obvious rip-off of George Romero's far superior Night of the Living Dead made four years before without the originality, great cast and fantastic direction.

In addition to the bad acting, the film's special effects and make-up are a huge disappointment - not surprisingly, Ormsby had a hand in their creation as well as collaborating on the screenplay (Is there no end to the man's talents?) and they scream "no budget". Unless the zombies all died the same day and in the same manner the make-up lacks the varying stages of decomposition one would expect to find on corpses in an old graveyard. The clothing is another matter... the wardrobe person should have been incarcerated for fashion violations. The pants worn by Ormbsy are just hideous - they go above-and-beyond the requisite 70's tackiness of mismatched prints and cornea-damaging brilliant neons. Those pants are now more infamous than the film. The performances of the supporting cast which consists of Valerie Mamches (Val), Jeff Gillen (Jeff), Anya Ormsby (Anya), Paul Cronin (Paul) and Jane Daly (Terry) range from mediocre to way over-the-top - it's kind of sad when you are upstaged by a dead guy. The only worthwhile thing in the film is the music by composer Carl Zittrer, who also composed the music for my beloved Black Christmas, Porky's, Porky's II and Prom Night.

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Picture

The film is presented in a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic transfer and the picture leaves a lot to be desired. The flesh tones appear unnatural at times, the images are soft and blurred and in some of the darker scenes the colour jumps from black to gray then back to black again. There is very little grain, but a lot of staining and discolouration is present.

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Sound

The English Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is sufficient for the film, although there is a bit of distortion and an uneven volume level.

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Extras

Chapter Stops/Menus - There are 16 chapter stops. They consist of stills from the film, set four at a time against a static background.

Photo Galleries - A very brief slide show of posters and lobby cards for the film.

Theatrical Trailer - Talk about false advertising... the original theatrical trailer is featured and it actually looks good.

Biographies - Biographies for director Bob Clark (billed as Benjamin Clark in the film) and lead actor/writer Alan Ormsby are included.

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Conclusion

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things will probably only appeal to hardcore horror film collectors or those under the influence looking for a laugh. Despite its awesome title and zombie theme, it fails to deliver anything in the way of entertainment or scares. Alan Ormsby's obnoxious performance is physically painful to watch and listen to and the film's only real payoff (the ending) has been done to death (and better) in numerous other films. The DVD is a decent effort by VCI, but the film is so bad, I doubt many people will really care about the quality of the disc.

Film
4 out of 10
Video
4 out of 10
Audio
5 out of 10
Extras
4 out of 10
Overall

4

out of 10

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