Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1973)

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1973), written and directed by Bob Clark.

A sarcastic, domineering theater director takes his cast to a cemetery island where they will -- for some damned reason -- dig up a corpse and perform satanic rituals. The director has a decadent, sick sense of humor and has many games in mind. His cleverness vanishes when the joke becomes real.

We want to see these people get what's coming to them because:

Another shoestring-budget indie horror film with theater actors making their first movie. Yes, it is self-referential and the actors use their own names. Is it of the genre where fools mock that which is about to get them, or is it a satire on same? Hard to tell.

When you see this in your pre-calloused age of impressionable horror film-watching -- as I did -- it's the stuff of nightmares. Definitely in the same space as the original Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Now I see it classed as "campy comedy horror", but that's not quite right. Yes, it has a bit of humor, but the honest revulsion we feel at what these people are up to is real. "Alan" marries the corpse and spends some private time with it. He's sickening, but so are the timid actors who won't cross him.

Cleverly, we have pre-zombie phase when shadowy ghouls flit just out of view, but that's a trick. The zombie makeup in the final minutes when they finally erupt from the grave is pretty amazing. It happens so fast we barely have time for a siege. Those rotting corpses are hungry.

Apart from the fun and games, the actors do actual assault and kidnapping of the cemetery caretaker. How were they planning on getting away with that?

The director would later do Murder by Decree (1979), Porky's, and A Christmas Story.

Alan Ormsby ("Alan") cowrote the screenplay and did the zombie makeup.

The score is electronic weird planet SF music. Are we entering another world?

The DVD is not very good quality, but has a happy, fond commentary track by the cast.