Thursday, March 7, 2013

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things Cast and Crew

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things is a movie about Orville. Orville Dunworth. A man just trying to ride out eternity in peace. Until a pesky theater troupe of young punks digs up his corpse and uses him in a black magic ceremony to celebrate Satan and raise the dead. But nobody messes with Orville Dunworth.

Orville Dunsworth
Portrayed by actor Seth Sklarey, whose only other acting credit was Porky's II: The Next Day, Orville is the main character in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things.

Movie synopsis: An eccentric theatre director, Alan (Alan Ormsby), leads his troupe to a small island that serves as a cemetery for deceased criminals. They proceed to situate themselves in the caretaker’s abode as Alan prepares for some unknown deed. The group marches to the graveyard where Alan begins a seance of sorts to call forth the dead from their slumber. This experiment appears to fail, so they trek back to the cabin, bringing one of the ‘stiffs’, Orville, for their amusement. Tensions soon begin to flare among the group regarding the morality of their recent actions, and, as soon as the troupe decides to depart, with or without their director, the dead rise from their graves to enact their revenge.

My favorite performance in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things is by

 Valerie Mamches. Although Mamches didn't pursue a career in movies, she is considered a great stage actor who has been a coach to many since CSPWDT. Here diatribe against Satan here is one of the best moments in horror movie history. 

One of my favorite things about this movie is you get the feeling these people liked each other and were having fun making it, even if the lead character was supposed to be a dictator everyone disliked, you got the idea they all liked each other. Not many of these actors worked very much after Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things. Jeffrey, played by Jeff Gillen, had few other notable performances after CSPWDT, but one of them certainly is remembered every Christmas.

Ho. Ho. Ho. Jeff Gillen as Santa Claus in the classic A Christmas Story.

But if brawn is your style, Paul, played by Australian born actor Paul Cronin is your guy. He plays mighty Joe karate with a shuttered window, comes to the defense of his girlfriend terry when the evil Alan suggests he invoke the rule of primal juncture and "break her in" as a member of the troupe. Unfortunately, what Paul is probably best known for in the movie is...

Being eaten by this zombie chick. Cronin is one of the few actors in CSPWDT to have appeared on screen before, or after, the movie was released, appearing mostly in cop roles. 

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
Here is Jane Daly as Terry about to become fertilizer. She went on to appear on television many times, on shows like The X Files, ER, Matlock, Cold Case, and many others. Things to do in the forest. I can think of a few. But watch yourself with this seduceable Brownie. 

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
Anya Ormsby, who was married to Alan Ormsby at the time of shooting, is another one of the talented actors who suddenly decided to end their acting career abruptly after Children Shouldn't Play With Dead  Things. Her spacey, wide-eyed performance here is certainly indicative of someone with serious acting chops, but after only two more movies and one television appearance, her acting career was over. In this scene near the end of the movie, Alan offers her up to the zombies to buy himself a few more moments before he is munched to bits. The funniest part about this scene is when he pushes her down the stairs the zombies all stop momentarily and look up at him like "you're a real dick." At one time Anya Ormsby was a friend of the poet Lyn Lifshin. I don't recall how I know this information, but it seemed important to me at one time. 

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

Alan ormsby, who played Alan, and also did the make-up effects, literally wrote the book on make-up. At least The Scholastic Book version. Movie Monsters: Monster Make-Up and Monster Shows To Put On was published in the 1970's. Ormsby began work in feature films with the Bob Clark-directed Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972). In addition to writing the film's script, Ormsby played the lead, Alan, and provided the film's make-up effects. Two years later, Ormsby and Clark re-teamed on Deranged and Deathdream. Deranged, a horror film inspired by serial killer Ed Gein, saw Clark producing with Ormsby writing and co-directing the feature (with Jeff Gillen), while Deathdream saw Clark directing another Ormsby script.

The early 1980s saw Ormsby continue as a screenwriter with Ormsby providing the scripts for My Bodyguard (1980), The Little Dragons (1980), Paul Schrader's Cat People (1982) and Clark's Porky's II: The Next Day (1983). Ormsby returned to directing with Popcorn. Written by Ormsby, the film production saw him leave the director's chair early on, to be replaced by Porky's actor Mark Herrier. The only footage shot by Ormsby that remains in the final film are the scenes from the faux horror films shown in the theater. In 1996, he co-wrote The Substitute, which became a successful series of films.

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

The zombies in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, referred to as ghouls, had some of the best make-up of the 1970's, and although the film is often referred to as "campy," or "cheesy," they're pretty scary. Bob Sherman, Curtis Bryant, William Smedley, Debbie Cummings, Peter Burke, Chester Phebus, Thomas L. Vaultonburg Sr., and a dozen others played those zombies. 

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things appeared on Elvira's Movie Macabre, Season 5, episode 17. I happened to be in the audience that very night, and had a cross country meet the next morning. On the bus it turns out almost everyone had stayed awake to watch the movie. I ran poorly that morning at Stronghold Castle in Oregon, Illinois, but I was never a good runner. The course wended its way through the woods, and that morning I was so far in the rear no one was even close to me. I daydreamed about the movie and took my own sweet time running the course. It's one of my most powerful memories in this lifetime, and one of the reasons this is my favorite movie. Thank you Elvira Mistress of the Dark.

remake has been in the works for several years now, first with original writer/director Bob Clark at the the helm, but that project died when Bob Clark and his son perished in a tragic car accident a few years ago. Then rumors surfaced that Fangoria had taken up the project with Tom Savini slated to direct, but that project, too, has stalled despite reports to the contrary. Tom Savini would be perfect for this project as he worked with Alan Ormsby and most of the original crew doing make up effects for Deathdream.

Originally reviewed rather poorly, and referred to for many decades as campy, cheesy, and low-budget schlock, the recent resurgence of the zombie genre has brought a new generation to Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, and a whole new appreciation. This film holds up. It more than holds up, it gets better with age. 

Here's a zombie haiku written by Outsider Poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg

Zombie Haiku

With your Uptown brains
in my Downtown brawn, baby

we're unstoppable

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
Here in the final scene we see the undead boarding the boat, and we're supposed to imagine they'll head towards Miami. Since these zombies haven't transformed those they've attacked into zombies my guess is their time in Miami will be rather short. I would like to stand on the island where this was shot and look at the neon sign in the background of this shot one day, if it's still there. It's good to have goals.

Here's something few of you have seen before: a Beta Gorgon Video copy of the movie Children Should't Play With Dead Things