After the amazing success of George Romero’s 1968 zombie shocker, “Night of the Living Dead”, New Orleans-born Benjamin “Bob” Clark, after working on several forgettable movies, decided to film a send-up of the horror classic and with fellow University of Miami student, Alan Ormsby, they set about creating the now-classic fright spoof “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”. The premise is simple – Ormsby plays a full-of-himself director named Alan (probably THE most obnoxious character in a horror movie until Franklin Hardesty came around in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) who brings a group of actors to a burial island off the coast of Florida in order to film a movie. What the actors don’t know is that Alan and some friends have set up an elaborate joke to play on the actors once they reach the island which, of course, backfires horrendously. As in nearly zombie movie to date, the group is forced to take refuge in a nearby dwelling, this time the cemetery caretaker’s home, and all hell breaks loose.
The movie is VERY dated – the clothing the actors wear are SO early 70s, you have to wonder what everyone during that time was thinking (or smoking) when they got dressed every day. The cast isn’t bad at all, although nearly all of them go by their real first names which helps if you get confused but have a cast list handy. The first part of the movie drags a bit as Alan plays the Little Dictator to his motley group (and you just keep wishing a zombie WOULD hurry up and have a munch on him!) but give this film time. It does tend to grow on you.
The zombies are the best part. For a 1972 film made on a budget of $50,000, which would have been a pretty good chunk of change back then, it shows in the SFX, some of which were also done by Renaissance man, Alan Ormsby. The zombies are still the Romero shamblers but in “Children”, they do occasionally show a spark of “difference”, especially in the final scene (you’ll know what I mean when you see it). There aren’t any steaming entrails or much gore but, for this film anyway, it doesn’t take anything away from the movie. It’s still creepy – filmed at night in an eerie cemetery, Orville the corpse kept around for “good luck” or something, the scenes when the zombies are revived and mightily honked off at that (there’s just something about seeing a rotting hand shoot out of the ground that gets me every time!). It’s a fun movie and can be purchased at places like Amazon for dirt cheap – all zombie fans should have a copy.
Also, if the name Bob Clark sounds familiar, he went on to direct what is arguably the first slasher movie, the horrifying “Black Christmas” (1974), the teen sex romp, “Porky’s” (1982) and everyone’s favorite holiday movie, “A Christmas Story” (“You’ll shoot your EYE out!”) (1983).