Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972)

directed by benjamin clark
brandywine/motionarts

For almost two-thirds of this (very) independent picture’s running time, I couldn’t stand the damn thing, mainly because the main character is completely insufferable, dampening whatever alleged “humor” I was supposed to be getting from the subpar scriptwriting. Besides which, nothing much happens during this hour, and I was getting pretty tired of looking at the hideous, dated togs sported by some of the clowns in the cast. At long last, however, the dead finally rise from their graves – this cannot possibly count as a “spoiler” – and mostly redeem things … but not for the reasons you may suppose. No, what really turned my opinion of this movie is the sound design, because as the corpses claw their way out of the earth (with suspicious ease) and start to stalk their way around the garishly designed and oddly luminescent cemetery and grounds – the film looks much the way colorized “classics” do, the effect at times almost fauvist – the soundtrack begins BLARING all sorts of unexpected, unrelenting sonic surprises. Was that a cow? I wondered. Is that a foghorn? Is this an Edgard Varèse composition? Man alive (hahaha), is it terrific. The silent final scene is great as well.

why did i watch this movie?

I was going to cue up Deathdream, but then I read it was this director’s second horror feature … and it turns out I’ve seen his third film, Black Christmas. So, uh, due diligence.

should you watch this movie?

Naturally, you want to follow the through-line of “Book of the Dead” bushwah. Or study the evolution of corpse paint.

highlight and low point

The repartee is sophomoric at best, and I cannot stress enough how repellent I found the lead role, but this invective hurled in his direction is wonderful:

It IS happening! Don’t sit there whining,
you sickening pervert!

rating from outer space: c+

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