Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things – USA, 1972

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is a 1972 American comedy horror feature film written, co-produced and directed by Bob Clark [as Benjamin Clark]. It has also been released as Revenge of the Living DeadThings from the Grave and Zreaks.

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This zombie movie was Clark’s third film; he later became famous for directing Black Christmas, Murder By DecreeA Christmas Story, and Porky’s.

It-Happened-at-Nightmare-Inn-Things-from-the-GraveThe low-budget film was shot in fourteen days in Miami on a budget of $70,000 and Clark employed some of his college friends on it.

Review:

For the first hour or so, the viewer is stuck watching Ormsby chew the scenery as he verbally abuses his fellow actors, and some efforts at comedy that don’t really come off.

Once the zombie attack begins, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things perks up considerably and actually develops some degree of tension. However, on the whole this is a spirited and doomed pastiche, notably only for the careers it launched and for being the first Night of the Living Dead-inspired zombie film.

David Flint, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

“Despite being applied by an inexperienced Ormsby with no budget, the ghouls’ makeup is effective. When paired with Carl Zittrer’s (Black Christmas) howling, electronic score, the lengthy scene of the blood-thirsty living dead rising from their graves is undeniably creepy. It’s a stretch to call Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things a horror-comedy, but the film is certainly played with a tongue in cheek.” Alex DiVincenzi, Broke Horror Fan

“The characters are the film’s biggest problem; they talk and bicker a lot, and none of them are very appealing. The worst is the conceited troupe leader, played by Alan Ormsby, who also co-wrote the script with Clark. But Clark’s accomplished direction already contains intriguing elements of space and distance, darkness and timing, which he would later refine. On a technical level, at least, it’s great fun.” Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid

” …this vacillates between stupidity and cheap thrills…” John Stanley, Creature Features

Set entirely during one night on a remote island, this tongue-in-cheek horror opus from Bob Clark is admittedly very difficult to warm up to if you’re not in the mood; for best results, try watching it after midnight with plenty of beer and popcorn on hand, preferably in the company of other people looking for a few lowbrow chuckles and scares.” Mondo Digital

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com

“What a strange little movie […] if you like faux British accents, crude puns, rivalry, and teasing,, then you might enjoy Dead Things quite a bit.You should also be in the mood for bottom-budget production values, but the zombie makeup and masks are very good. There are scares, and there is gore. For me the key was the dialogue.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

” …this movie contains the most convincing portrayal of the artist as manipulative, domineering bastard that I can ever recall having seen, and while I don’t know exactly how much that’s worth, it very definitely is worth something. Also in the movie’s favor are the brief flashes of something akin to quiet brilliance which are scattered throughout its running time.” Scott Ashlin, 100 Misspent Hours and Counting

” …as enjoyable as the dialogue is – nothing much happens for an hour. And when we know there’s zombies to come, this is an awful long time to keep people waiting! The end result is that when the dead rise and the living finally start getting killed, it’s all pretty much an afterthought as Clark rushes to wrap things up. Very flawed but undeniably interesting, Children is an odd film that deserves to be seen at least once.” Stuart Willis, Sex Gore Mutants

“The suspense is poorly balanced: too much build-up prevents the actual zombie sequence from mounting adequate suspense of its own, while the killings come late and rapidly. The attempts at humor fizzle, but the movie flaunts and eccentric audacity that keeps it from becoming predictable. Unquestionably the scariest thing about it all is Alan’s pants.” Peter Dendle, The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia

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Buy: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

” …there’s really no plot to speak of, no real reason why the theater troupe is there, no reason why they dig up a corpse, and really no reason why they listen to Alan at all, especially when he treats them so terribly. But it’s still a fun ride, provided you check logic at the door and just enjoy.” Cherlyz, Rare Horror

“Uneven in spots but a decent early effort from the man who would give us the classic Black Christmas (1974) just two years later. One can’t always tell if the laughs are intentional or not, but this is an interesting little entry in the zombie subgenre.” The Terror Trap

Buy DVD: Amazon.com

  • All New Commentary with Alan Ormsby, Jane Daly and Anya Cronin
  • “Memories of Bob Clark” – A tribute to the late Director
  • Grindhouse Q&A
  • Confessions of a Grave Digger – Interview with Ken Goch
  • Photo Gallery
  • “Dead Girls Don’t Say No” – Music Video by The Deadthings
  • “Cemetery Mary” – Music Video by The Deadthings
  • A Tribute Video by Freak 13
  • Trivia
  • Alan Ormsby Bio
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Image credits: Broke Horror Fan

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VHS sleeve image courtesy of Video Wasteland

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Buy DVD: Amazon.co.uk

Cast and characters:

  • Alan Ormsby … Alan
  • Valerie Mamches … Val
  • Jeffrey Gillen … Jeff
  • Anya Ormsby … Anya
  • Paul Cronin … Paul
  • Jane Daly … Terry
  • Roy Engleman … Roy
  • Robert Philip … Emerson
  • Bruce Solomon … Winns
  • Alecs Baird … Caretaker
  • Seth Sklarey … Orville Dunworth
  • Robert Sherman … Ghoul
  • Curtis Bryant … Ghoul
  • William R. ‘Bob’ Smedley … Tallest dead thing
  • Debbie Cummins … Ghoul

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4 Comments on “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things – USA, 1972”

  1. A classic of the 1970s era of wild Horror cinema (and wild 1970s fashion). My older brother used to work in community theater and I got to hang around a lot of the folks he worked with. And I can tell you, Alan Ormsby’s performance in not far off the mark. I saw a whole bunch of tiny men with huge egos who thought they were going to go on to Broadway just because they did Summer stock.

  2. An absolute favorite of mine from the anything goes Horror decade. Interesting to note that it was one of the first Night of the Living Dead cash ins and followed on with idea that zombies are flesh eaters. Then after Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, it was pretty much the genre standard rule. So love Anya Ormsby and her flighty, spiritual, character. One moment really sticks with me, inadvertant or not, the zombies are actually shocked when Alan sacrifices her. They also seem to gently carry her out, making me wonder if she was actually spared? My brother used to work in community theater, and I have to tell you, Alan Ormsby’s character is not too far off the mark from some of the guys I got to know through my brother. Men, gay and straight, who had the hugest egos and thought they were above all as they were “ACTORS.” A great film.

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