Friday, 29 November 2013

Review - Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1973 - Dir. Bob Clark)

When this kicked off I thought that I was watching a live action Scooby Doo film from the seventies. It's down to the lovely costumes you see. Plus it's set on a creepy island shrouded in fog. Scooby Doo all over. If Scooby Doo contained a gay necrophile wedding scene.

Alan is an irritating control freak theatre director who takes his happy little band of thespians to a dark island containing a graveyard. Alan also likes playing pranks, a bit like Beadle but with stripy trousers and a neckerchief. The oh-so-amusing prank he plays involves digging up a dead body and getting one of his buddies to rise from the now empty grave. How everyone laughs. For an encore he tries to raise the dead. Nice one mate.

The good thing is that Alan, played by Alan Ormsby (brother of Doncaster Rovers legend Brendan Ormsby... possibly), is supposed to be irritating and he is entertainingly irritating. I can see how his performance would split people, but I quite enjoyed him hamming about, laughing like a pantomime villain and having a good old rant at his chums. In fact, the whole film probably depends on whether you warm to his performance or not. I did. But there's more to the film than just Alan.

Evil-beardy Alan

Boot-swinging Brendan

The zombies are more Zombie Flesh Eaters than World War Z. Ormsby did the effects himself using a combination of latex and toilet paper. Quality. On the whole, they look great, really crusty and dead. It's just that it takes a while for the proper zombies to appear.

Yeah, about fifty minutes pass and there's not a whiff of a dirty shambler. Maybe if they appeared ten minutes earlier my rating would have been bumped up by a point to a very respectable level. When they finally appear though, it has to be one of my favourite moments of any of the zombie films I've seen this year. They claw their way out of their graves (hooray) all to the accompaniment of the strangest film music I've had the pleasure to come across. It's all very atmospheric and strangely disturbing. At times they attack in stunning low def slow motion (probably filmed at 24fps and then slowed down to give that snail pace flip book feel) and again it's worryingly powerful given the tone of the rest of the film.

I've managed to avoid the marriage scene until the final paragraph. It sounds great on paper but it didn't really register with me that much at the time. It's a natural continuation of the degradation that the corpse has suffered before. Lovers of The League of Gentlemen probably won't bat an eyelid. If you're shocked by this type of thing (that's what the film-makers were going for) and find men marrying dead men distasteful then maybe avoid this and watch something entirely more pleasant instead; I'd recommend something along the lines of Antichrist, or the zombie film I'll be reviewing next week...


If you like this you could also try:
Deathdream, Dead and Buried.

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