I once spent over two hours talking about this movie with Rob Zombie in a Los Angeles hotel when I was 15. True story.
If you're paying attention, you realize at this point that I will allow a great deal of amnesty toward a movie for low production value if they somehow manage to evoke an atmosphere with whatever ingredients they've been afforded. Bob Clark's "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" was made for a meager 70k, which would prove an agonizing task for most. Part of me thinks if this film had any more money than it did though, it might not be what it is. Sometimes, I think cheapness lends a grit that can help movies of this nature feel more effective. They also tend to feel more spirited. I think it's mainly because the people involved sure as hell aren't there for the paycheck. They're doing it because they're passionate about the project, and that really shines through. It's what truly gives something a soul and probably explains why low budget films garner cult followers.
This is probably one of my favorite zombie films, and in fact when I think of zombies, the image of lead corpse Orville is what comes to mind. The situation is familiar, but it is the characters - a bunch of eccentric college thespian types - who keep it fresh.
So, a bunch of pretentious theater assholes land on a rustic island replete with cemetery where they throw some Warholian rehearsal party, resulting in sacrilege and desecration. They also dig up a body, too. They tow the body back to the house where they're all staying, name it Orville, and proceed to have a party for it, which yields some pretty evocative imagery that should hang with you for a while. It's not so much gruesome as it is morbid. Eventually, the dead have had enough disgrace and rise from the earth to seek retribution against their trespassers.
It's pretty typical stuff, but like I said, the characters are fantastic and seldom likable, and the filmmakers manage to develop enough sympathy for Orville that you're really cheering for him once he's gunning for the living characters, who seem more like antagonists as they abuse and degrade the dead. In fact, they all pretty much have what's coming to them. Not in the sense that the characters are so one-dimensional and stupid that you want the guy with the axe to just get them off your screen. In fact, the characters are all very well written and acted, with one of the supreme highlights being Alan Ormsby's (also the film's writer) performance as the leader of the asshole pack. While this film has been routinely assailed for its bad acting and writing, these detractors are completely missing the satire of it all. The characters in this film aren't actually meant to be taken seriously as victims. In fact, they are a contemptuous skewering of the high brow "art fags" one routinely encounters in the world of art. These people take themselves way too seriously to respect anybody who isn't them, so there is definitely a great deal of satisfaction taken by the filmmakers in ripping them limb from limb.
The film was directed by Bob Clark, who also gave us "Black Christmas," the first two "Porky's," films, as well as "A Christmas Story." Check out the trailer, courtesy some asshole with no taste.