In the horror community Bob Clark, the same guy who made “A Christmas Story,” is best known for “Black Christmas.” However Clark made other horror films that are very interesting and tend to get overlooked. For this entry I’m going to discuss his 1972 film “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” a dark, gory and very disturbing entry in the zombie genre.
A group of actors are brought to a creepy island by their jerk of a director Alan. On the island is an abandoned house and cemetery, where several criminals have been buried. Alan has a corpse dug up and performs a satanic ritual to make the dead rise from their graves. It doesn’t work, so the disappointed Alan uses the corpse for sick, disturbing jokes. An actress tries the ritual again and this time it works. The dead do rise from their graves, however they are hungry for flesh so the actors take refuge in the house. Unfortunately the zombies overpower them.
It may sound like a typical zombie movie but it isn’t. One aspect that separates this film from others is there is no hero. In addition things just get worse and worse for our characters, to the point where there is no silver lining for them. Also the way Alan interacts with the corpse he digs up is very disturbing, it reminds very much of “Nekromantik.” It was a disturbing film for time and is quite frankly still disturbing today. In addition the foggy, mysterious island and cemetery make for a perfect for horror movie atmosphere. There is not a modern horror movie I have seen that can match the vibe of this film. Composer Carl Zitter’s score deserves mention as well.
The most impressive aspect about this film though is that it was made for only $70,000 and shot in two weeks. Watching the film you wouldn’t think that it was made for that relatively low amount of money. Just goes to show creativity will beat budget any day.
I highly recommend this film, especially if you are a fan of zombie movies. Sleazy, dark and a perfect representation of ‘70s horror.
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