The weekend is finally here, kids, and if you're looking for something fun to do, you could always boat out to a small island and perform Satanic rituals to raise the dead... OR... You could come on out to see me and Child's Play actor Alex Vincent at Halloweenapalooza at the historic, haunted Hotel Ottumwa in Ottumwa, Iowa, happening today!
Hmm? What was that other thing I mentioned, you say? Why, I'm talking about today's spooky film, of course! Filled with spooky cemeteries and restless corpses, today's movie was directed by Bob Clark of Porky's fame. With ol' Bob being no stranger to youthful shenanigans, surely we're in for a devilish treat, right? Right?? Well, there's only one way to find out. Grab your shovel and get digging, because it's time to unearth 1972's Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things!
Our story opens on a secluded island off the Florida coast as a cemetery caretaker is attacked by what appears to be a vampiric ghoul, but the "ghoul" and his accomplice dig up a grave, remove the corpse, and one of the men hides inside, taking the corpse's place. Soon after, a theatre troupe led by a ill-tempered and pretentious director named Alan arrive by boat. Alan gives the troupe a tour of the island, and after breaking into an abandoned cabin to drop off their luggage, they return to the cemetery to dig up a corpse for a Satanic ritual Alan plans to take part in. The "ghouls" attack the troupe, revealing themselves to be fellow actors named Roy and Emerson, but the prank isn't well received. Alan coerces the troupe into helping him perform a ritual to raise the dead. The ritual fails, and after being ridiculed by his subordinates, Alan orders them back to the cabin for some fun, along with the unearthed corpse named Orville.
Alan continues to torment the troupe with Orville, propping him up and even marrying him in a mock wedding ceremony. One of the women, Anya, becomes extremely disturbed by Orville's mistreatment and has a violent nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, the dead begin to rise, apparently from the delayed effects of Alan's ritual, and attack Roy and Emerson. Roy is bitten and escapes to the cabin, only to die of his injuries while the undead surround the cabin.
Wow. Where do I begin? While it's obvious that the crew at least tried to make their ghouls more gruesome than Romero's in Night of the Living Dead four years earlier, this mostly amounts to raccoon eyes and a few key corpses with costume shop prosthetics. I mean... hell, look at this guy. Yeesh!
Within the first five minutes, the horrible dialogue and ham-fisted attempts at humor made me want to shut this movie off. Alan is so insufferable that I actually cheered when he finally got what was coming to him. It's ironic that this movie is about a theatre troupe, because there isn't a single one among them who can act. Their characters are erratic, each of them horrified and amused by Alan's antics and back to horrified again at the flip of a switch. I just couldn't bring myself to care about any of them. This movie should be required viewing in film and theatre classes as an example of what not to do.
Bottom line, this movie is just plain dumb. Save yourself a downright painful hour and a half of bad dialogue and dated gay stereotypes and just watch the cemetery scene from Porky's II: The Next Day instead. It's pretty much the first thirty minutes of this movie anyway. At least Bob Clark worked the comedy kinks out in the eleven years between these two movies.