CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (1972) Reviews and 50th Anniversary Edition discs news

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Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is being reissued by VCI Entertainment in a brand-new 50th anniversary 4K UHD and Blu-ray Collector’s Edition discs.

This new release will include an all-new introduction and Q&A with lead actor and script contributor Alan Ormsby, the brand-new feature-length documentary Dreaming of Death: Bob Clark’s Horror Films, and more. VCI will also be releasing the film on standard Blu-ray and DVD. All editions will be released on October 25, 2022.

Here’s our previous coverage of the film:

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‘It’ll be a scream… yours!!’
Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is a 1972 American comedy horror film about friends in a theatrical troupe who dig up a corpse. They intend to use the dead body in a mock satanic rite, however, things backfire with deadly consequences. Also released as Revenge of the Living Dead, Things from the Grave and Zreaks. Promoted with an exclamation mark as Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things!

Written, co-produced and directed by Bob Clark [as Benjamin Clark]. Alan Ormsby (Popcorn; Cat People 1982; DeathdreamDeranged) stars and collaborated on the screenplay but is uncredited.

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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.

The Brandywine Motionarts Films production was shot in fourteen days in Miami on a budget of approximately $70,000 and Clark employed some of his college friends on it.

Reviews:

” …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.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

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“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.” Broke Horror Fan

“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

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“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.” Combustible Celluloid

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

“The acting is amateurish but lively, and Ormsby’s makeup effects for the undead creatures runs to the campy side of the spectrum. Worse, the movie grows tedious once the zombie attack begins. Nonetheless, there’s a certain acidic wit to the piece, and the filmmakers clearly have no illusions of generating high art.” Every ’70s Movie

“It’s fairly obvious to tell that this is a Night of the Living Dead rip-off, and the payoff in this movie isn’t too bad; the scenes of the dead coming out of their graves are very good. However, to get to that, you have spend an hour with some of the most annoying characters you’ve ever endured…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is a hell of a lot of fun and something that can be considered to be ahead of its time in regards to the comedic horror route it takes with zombies. What really makes the movie so enjoyable is Alan. So over the top, such a pretentious w@nker yet somehow you can’t take your eyes off him. As his behaviour worsens you really want to see him get his comeuppance, which he does in excellent fashion.” Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life

“Clark uses a few camera tricks to fill in the blanks left by the lack of budget, including slow-motion during the more frightening moments. The lighting is undeniably creepy, as is the graveyard set. The scene where the zombies come out of their graves is one of the best of its type, with numerous zombies emerging all at once from holes in the ground. It’s both cartoonish and nightmarish at the same time.” Groovy Doom

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Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is definitely a product of its time and modern audiences will need to summon a bit more patience with the material than they may be accustomed to. That being said, the picture does have a fairly ravenous fan base, and anyone looking for a slow-burn payoff will be in for a treat.” Horror DNA

“It should be awful. Nothing happens for over an hour, as a theater troupe just sort of hangs out on an island pretending to raise the dead. Then, with little warning, the zombies finally rise with 15 minutes to go in the film […]The characters are so delightfully wretched and dumb that nearly every action and line elicits a laugh from the crowd.” Horror Movie a Day

“Whether Ormsby intended his portrayal to be utterly grating or simply gave a bad performance, the character of Alan is the true villain of the film and stoops to a low during the final scene that even makes the zombies pause for a second (a great moment!). Despite its flaws, Children features a terrific concluding half-hour in which the horror finally takes over completely.” Mondo Digital

” …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.” SGM

” …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.” 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

“Highly derivative of Night of the Living Dead and filled with amateurish performances, strained comedy, and zero production values, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things does convey, nonetheless, undeniable power in the rising-dead scenes and a genuine mood of unease throughout that most big-budget horror outings fail to capture.” TV Guide

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” …a great low budget zombie flick that really got going in the last third with an extended zombie attack that was noticeably loud in its execution with the zombies banging on the windows and proving to be very unsettling. The cast all did a great job but the real star here was Ormsby in an obnoxiously over-the-top performance that made me think of what Jim Carrey would be like in a 70’s zombie movie.” The Video Graveyard

“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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VHS sleeve image courtesy of Video Wasteland

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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

Filming locations:

Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida

Technical details:

1 hour 27 minutes
Audio: Mono
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

Trailer:

Full film free to watch online [1080p HD]:

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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