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Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things


‘…the shocks and scares are as raw as the outre fashions…’

We’re still working our way through the Bob Clark Horror boxed set of blu-rays for 101 Films, with this the earliest of the three films provided. I have to admit, I hadn’t seen 1972’s Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things before now, and with some reason; the stills for this film do make it look like less than essential viewing. But this turns out to be the story of a motley film-crew who disturb evil forces while shooting a cheap horror film, so there’s a good reason why the images provided look so down at heel; Clark’s film is really quite well upholstered for a lo-fi movie. So having got that misconception out of the way, let’s take a deep dive in…

‘They’re having problems all over the world with people breaking into cemeteries,’ is dialogue which gives you the tone of Clark’s film; the featured film-makers are very much part of the atrophying of society, as evidenced by the director Alan (co-writer Alan Ormsby) and his bright orange shirt and horrific multi-coloured striped strides, arguably the worst I’ve seen in decades of reviewing film. Sure, this kind of apparel may be acceptable or even fashionable in Canada, but there’s no excuse for such fashion faux pas, even in the name of art. Alan and his crew are searching for a grimoire, a book of demons in what would come to be the Evil Dead style, with a text that could ‘inflame the mind of Satan’, so it must be pretty bad if even a level-headed, straight-shooter like Auld Nick can be inflamed…

‘People create their own demons,’ is a key line here; while Clark takes the time to explore some of his patented mean-spirited Porkys-style pranks and sub-sub-Shakespearean comedy, the mood snaps back to sinister with a deft focus pull to a spider waiting in a web. The action eventually switches from a graveyard to an abandoned house, supposedly empty but with a foreboding light on outside, and soon our garishly dressed film-makers are under attack, but by zombies, vampires or what?

‘I peed my pants,’ says one character over and over again, but you’re unlikely to do the same; while the kind of flesh face-mask popularised in Texas Chainsaw Massacre appears here way ahead of its time, the shocks and scares are as raw as the outre fashions, if done with Clark’s customary enthusiasm. As a huge fan of Black Christmas, this boxed set provides a valuable lesson in Clark’s development as a film-maker; the talent is clearly there. Watching this made me curious to know more about Clark, who went from this rather humble offering to directing James Mason, Christopher Plummer and Laurence Olivier in Murder by Decree within a few years; there’s an excellent hour long doc named Dreaming of Death supplied as part of the copious extras on this blu-ray package.

Special Features:
• Commentary with Alan Ormsby, Jane Daly and Anya Cronin
• Alan Ormsby Interview
• Memories of Bob Clark
• Confessions of a Grave Digger: Interview with Ken Goch
• Grindhouse Q&A
• Cemetery Mary Music Video
• Dead Girls Don’t Say No Music Video
• Trailer
• Photo Gallery

Bob Clark Horror Collection (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray)

£44.99 GBP Out April 3rd 2023 in the UK!

Bob Clark Horror Collection (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray)


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