Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972)

Confession time, children! Gather around. Closer, please. I'm going to whisper this to you before I spend an entire review proclaiming why. Here goes: I fucking love Bob Clark.

From Porky's to A Christmas Story, the writer/director has a well-known penchant for comedy but the horror genre was his first love and – with classics like Black Christmas and Deathdream – very welcoming to him. To say he left his mark on the genre is a gross understatement. Yet, it all started with the release of 1973's Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things. This low budget cult classic has recently been rescued from the vaults and remastered for its debut on blu-ray this week.

"a seriously great cult classic about a goofy acting troupe of misfits"

Released by VCI Entertainment (who previously issued the film on blu-ray yeats ago), Clark's third feature is a seriously great cult classic about a goofy acting troupe of misfits, dressing like various members of Hanna Barbara's "Goober and Ghost Chasers" cartoon. Led by their spiteful director "Uncle" Alan (Alan Ormsby), the group – who all hate Uncle Alan – winds up holding a séance off the coast of Florida and, eventually, resurrect a mob of zombies who were better left alone and undisturbed in their coffins.

Alright, so you're thinking that (in 2022) zombies – with heavy black eye makeup around their sockets (looking a bit like Keaton's Beetlejuice himself) might be a bit played out but the sheer entertainment value of Clark's visuals, practical effects, and direction makes the movie worth owning and, if you are anything like me, cherishing. Co-starring Valerie Mamches, Jeffrey Gillen, Anya Ormsby, and Paul Cronin, this is a balls-out fright fest of fun and filth. It's funny and awful and everything we should praise in a cult classic and, to the very end, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things absolutely delivers an unforgettable experience.Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972)

From the mock wedding of the featured undead, Orville Dunworth (Seth Sklarey), to the mystical blue robe Uncle Alan wears, the twisting and turning stitch the narrative threads is a comically zany one. The party attendees – after traveling by boat from Miami to this graveyard island of criminals – have their night ruined by a practical joke, a severe lightning storm, and, ultimately, by the undead they unexpectedly manage to scare up.

It is a night that none could have ever planned for which, for the viewers, makes it hilariously exciting. For the first time in years, I even got chills watching as various members of this troupe try to one-up Uncle Alan by raising the dead. Nothing works but, that's the trick, of course it does. They just don't see it until it is too late and everyone is in a bit of a pissy mood.

And, after all the chomping and grinding of bones between teeth, the zombies board the boat heading back to Miami. What fun! Truly, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things! Be the first on your block to know why thanks to the wild imagination of Bob Clark.

Watch the counterculture get chomped in 4K. Scoop this release NOW!

5/5 stars

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972)

4k details divider

50th Anniversary Edition / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray

Home Video Distributor: VCI
Available on Blu-ray
- December 6, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English
English: LPCM 2.0 Mono
Discs: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A

Five young kinky actors and their artistic director come to a desolate and nearly forgotten burial island, complete with a morbid history of MURDER, RAPE, CURSES and DEMONS. Alan (Alan Ormsby), the brilliant but bizarre Director of the company, has brought them to this foreboding place to dabble in witchcraft; specifically to dig up a fresh corpse and use it in a ritual ceremony which is supposed to raise the dead from their graves. It seems as though Alan has really gathered his ""children"" here, only to play a practical joke on them and then to party the rest of the night away. However, the joke's on Alan. His bizarre ritual ceremony really does raise the dead from their graves...only they're in no mood to party!


VCI Entertainment's 4K handling of Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things is indeed a treat. I have truly never seen this film look so engaging and crisp, yet somehow still looking fresh out of 1972. The restoration looks wonderful and does not overdue the processing like other 4K releases of underground classica. The colors in the costumes and clothing are somehow more vibrant than ever. The restoration doesn't take all of the grain and grimy-like tone of the film away, but it improves on the film’s less than humble beginnings.


The soundtrack – released in Dolby Digital 2.0 – is a series of electronic squawks, squeaks, and globs of goo. It is gloriously weird.



  • There is a great all new commentary with Alan Ormsby, Jane Daly, and Anya Cronin. It is fun and informative.

Special Features:

The extras on the disc are great. With three featurettes, 3 music videos, a trivia section, a trailer and a still gallery, this release – complete with a 4-page booklet – is a treasure for fans of the movie.

  • New 2022 Video Introduction and Q&A with Alan Ormsby
  • New 2022 – 90-minute Video Documentary DREAMING OF DEATH: Bob Clark’s Horror Films, with many new interviews with cast and crew.
  • Full Commentary Track with Alan Ormsby, Jane Daly and Anya Cronin
  • Memories of Bob Clark: A video tribute to the late Director.
  • The Los Angeles Grindhouse Festival, May 22, 2007 Q&A. A Video filmed in between a double feature showing of CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY… and DEATHDREAM at the Beverly Cinema.
  • Confessions of a Grave Digger: Video Interview with Ken Goch.
  • Extensive Photo & Poster Gallery
  • “Dead Girls Don’t Say No” Music video by The Deadthings.
  • “Cemetery Mary” Music video by The Deadthings.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer and Radio Spots.
  • New Special Liner-Notes Booklet written by Patrick McCabe

4k rating divider

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars

Film Details

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972)

MPAA Rating: PG.
87 mins
: Bob Clark
Bob Clark; Alan Ormsby
Alan Ormsby; Valerie Mamches; Jeff Gillen
: Horror | Comedy
You're Invited To Orville's "Coming-Out" Party...It'll Be A Scream...YOURS!!!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Will you quit giving us a play-by-play of your flabby bladder?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Geneni Film Distributors
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 9, 1972
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 6, 2022.
Synopsis: Five young kinky actors and their artistic director come to a desolate and nearly forgotten burial island, complete with a morbid history of MURDER, RAPE, CURSES and DEMONS.


Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972)