Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (I will refer to it as simply Children from here on out) is a phenomenal movie title. So much so, that it was THE reason I chose to watch it. Numerous bands and TV shows have taken the title for their own. Not many people know, and even less actually seen, the piece that originally had this great title.
Children is super low budget horror fair. So much so, that there’s really no zombies in it until two thrids through the movie. So what makes a zombie flick with no zombies watchable?
The script, oddly enough. I know, a script, in a b horror movie? Like…dialogue? Worth hearing? Yeah. The characters, especially the lead Alan, are quite eccentric, but it actually makes sense. Why? Because this is a movie about some kids in a theater group, who think it would be awesome to try some voodoo ritual stuff on a dead guy they dug up named “Orville.” Theater troupe kids are usually borderline gay in their behavior, so it all fits. Stereotypes are fun. We get plenty of them here, including the guy who’s just there to get laid, the slut, the people who are “against” whats going on and about to happen, and the “assholes/cronies” who play tricks on everyone else, scaring them, thus sealing their fate later on.
So we got some dumb shit kids digging up bodies, and trying to resurrect them. Guess you can’t figure out what winds up happening to them? That’s sort of beside the point however, as the dialogue actually steals the show here. Sure, it’s somewhat typical (by today’s standards) discussion of the dead, disrespecting them, and so on and so forth, but it works.
For those uninitiated in old horror, the film quality is probably going to be the first obstacle you will have to overcome. Both a blessing and a curse, it will keep most general audiences away, while giving 70’s horror fan boys butterflies in the stomach, because the poor quality of the film actually lends really nicely to creating a grim and bleak atmosphere. It enforces the fact that you know something bad will happen. And for about an hour, we’re treated to all the reasons why these kids deserve it…and they deserve it so bad.
The pacing is slow. I mean that. So don’t come in expecting things to movie along swiftly. I was obvious that the dialogue was stretched out to its max just to create a feature length film. Directors doing things like that scares the shit out of me, but as I’ve mentioned before, I was just so damn interesting in what they had to say, I never felt bored, looked at the timer wondering when the “good stuff” would start to happen, or caught myself yawning.
Special effects wise it’s bare bones. Instead we get zombies that look very realistic, like the freshly dead. The reason being is that, I’m pretty sure, actual actors played the zombies, even when they were motionless. This creates some nice scenes where your just waiting and hoping, that Orville takes a huge chunk out of Alan’s neck in the middle of his ranting and rambling on about “Art” and other “higher” ideas.
That concept also works really well, the fact that the person who’s mouth is being shot off the most, is in fact, the main villain and focus of much of the action. We get to watch him parade around, ordering his cronies to do his bidding, while assuring those in doubt everything will be fine. I’m positive Children didn’t invent this narrative style, but they sure do know how to make someone who’s easy to hate, but fun to listen to.
Lightweight B horror at its finest, Children isn’t going to scare you out of your seat, make you sick with it’s nauseating gore, or wow you with big special effects or riveting kill scenes. Consider it more of a really long, interesting conversation (Tarantino must have seen this at least once before he started making films) with a very macabre backdrop and a good finish, albeit a little light on the red stuff.
Recommended for those with patience.