Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972)

MAY 22, 2007


As previously reported here (and, presumably, legitimate news sources), director Bob Clark was killed earlier this year by some douchebag drunk driver. Last night, on his birthday, the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles paid tribute to the man by showing two of his three horror classics: Deathdream and Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (Black Christmas was shown, in an amazing coincidence, at Christmastime, with Clark in attendance. Sadly, I missed it, and now I am even more upset about it). They also treated us to a few trailers from his career, including Porky’s and Rhinestone (sadly, no Karate Dog). Some of his collaborators from both films were on hand to talk about working with him, and the raffle prizes were mostly Clark-related. It was a great time. And luckily for me, I hadn’t seen either film, so I get two HMAD entries out of the deal!

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, or CSPWDT as it’s more commonly known in my head, is a strangely appealing movie. 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, at which point Clark and co. just rip off Night of the Living Dead (a fact co-writer/star Alan Ormsby freely admits). But yet, it’s far from boring. The characters are so delightfully wretched and dumb that nearly every action and line elicits a laugh from the crowd. My favorite is “Your vilification of Satan is rice pudding!” I haven’t the slightest goddamn idea what the hell that is supposed to mean, but I love it so. Other choice bits: “The dead are losers. If anyone hasn’t earned respect, it’s the dead,” “Man is a machine that manufactures manure,” and this exchange:

Man: “I peed my pants!”
Dress wearing woman who hasn’t even moved throughout the scene: “We all did.”

Additionally, there’s a moment late in the film that ranks as one of the all-time best moments in any zombie film. Our lead throws his girlfriend to the zombies, to improve his chances of survival. As expected, the girl gives him the “you asshole!” look, but then, ONE OF THE ZOMBIES DOES TOO!!! Even a brain dead zombie is like “Dude, that’s a real douche thing to do.” Then, he eats her.

Of course, enjoyment of this film is probably determined by the company you’re with. Seeing it with 300 like-minded folks will be much more preferable to watching it with say, my wife (who thought I was going to a “Bob HOPE tribute”).

Hey wait a minute… What the hell are you doing watching obscure 70s horror with my wife, asshole?

(Note - While the title offers sound advice, there are no children in the movie. For years I thought this was about zombie kids.)

What say you?


  1. Just watched this for the first time about a week ago, and like you, I am fully aware that this should be a terrible movie, but dammit, I loved it more than I ever expected. It even held up, if not got better, when I made one of my friends watch it a few days later.

  2. Why would you go to a bob hope memorium? He stinks. This movie is amazing. I peed my pants!


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