Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Bob Clark
Cast: Alan Ormsby, Jane Daly, Jeff Gillen,
If ever there was a flm that left viewers perplexed, it was Bob Clark’s Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. It’s an extremely up-and-down, disjointed affair that probably shouldn’t work. At all… on any level. As a whole, it’s a little on the preposterous side, but we’ll get into the details shortly. Because there’s more to this picture than lunacy and outlandish randomness. There’s a very odd chill to the feature. It has some seriously creepy imagery that just might leave you unsettled, and the sound is great. In fact, if there’s any one single thing this movie gets really correct, it’s the sound.
The story makes absolutely zero sense. A group of filmmakers head out to an island where a graveyard rests. Why they’re there is sketchy as all hell. Apparently the idea is to resurrect the dead. But no one is making an attempt to set gear up, which combats the idea that these jokers are raising the dead in order to create intense cinema. Yet the subject of filmmaking and employment as an actor/crew member is constantly thrown about during the picture. Anyhow, once on the island, Alan, the director and owner of the unnamed production company, gets down to some goofy, goofy business. He’s apparently rigged the whole thing so that when the crew arrive on the island, a few of his other employees are prepped to pop up and generate some bogus scares. Why the hell he has two buddies dressed up as zombies is beyond me, especially given the fact that he plans to dig a body up to make his little seance a reality. The body is indeed yanked from its cramped sleeping quarters, something of a seance takes place and eventually, the dead do rise from the earth, slaughtering the film crew.
It’s hard to believe that the great Bob Clark (he’s credited in the film as Benjamin Clark, probably in the hopes that no one realized it was actually him in charge of this muddled mess) had anything to do with this production. Seriously, it’s hard to soak up the fact that the guy behind this one is the same guy behind the legendary Black Christmas. Sure it looks great, and rather authentic, and yes, the sound is exceptional, but holy hell, the script ranks amongst the worst ever written. Seriously. The dialogue is so horrendous (you know it’s bad when you start to feel a sense of embarrassment for the actors involved) you’ll find yourself scratching your head, shaking that noggin and attempting to fend off a growing sense of nausea in the pit of the belly. Almost every last word uttered in the film is cringe worthy, and Alan in particular, drops some lines that are bound to make you hate humanity. The fact that he refers to his co-workers – all 20-somethings – as children is completely baffling, and horribly, horribly grating on the nerves. And that’s really only one small bone to be picked in what amounts to a damn ossuary. There is no clear direction to the film, there are no endearing characters (Paul and Terry are the closest thing to likable you’ll find, so you can bet they’re among the first to be devoured by the film’s ghouls), no spin or grand revelation. Even the pacing stinks.
The most interesting aspect of this film is the fact that somehow, through all the terrible, it carries some awkward charm. Believe it or not I enjoy the film. But I also recognize it for what it truly is, which is flat out terrible. This simply is not a good film. It’s the polar opposite. And still, if you’re anything like me, you just might find yourself glued to the TV. Can visuals and sound alone make that happen? Apparently so. Is there anything to the cast that wins over the heart of the viewer? Probably not (Jane Daly is damn sexy though, I must confess). This is just one of those really rare, really bad, and really weird films that in some unidentifiable way, works… at least a little bit.