Friday, October 21, 2016

Ted Mikels, The Forgotten Prime Mover Behind Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

A lot of time is spent at this blog giving credit where credit is due to the two prime movers behind Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Bob Clark and Alan Ormsby. After all they wrote, directed, did the make up, and starred in the movie, but there was a third guiding force behind the movie, and one who might have made the movie as possible as the other two.

Ted Mikels was a self-taught movie fanatic who produced, wrote and directed dozens of ultra low bidget horror and schlock films in the 1960's and 0's, including  The Astro-Zombies, The Corpse Grinders, Dr. Sex. The Black Klansman, Ten Violent Women, and Orgy of the She Devils. 

Ted Mikels, Producer of Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

At 87 Mikels was still working on various projects when he died earlier this week.

So, how did Mikels, a West Coaster, end up in Florida working with a group of Hippies from The Florida State drama department?

As an uncredited Executive Producer, Mikels had put up a large amount of money and was responsible for the film's release, but when he arrived in Florida he demanded to see the week of footage that was already shot, and realized to his horror that it was all unsuable and demanded it be thrown out. They were apparently shooting it all wrong, using stage lighting for outside scenes, and Mikels literally had to give them an on the spot lesson in how to shoot outside. 

Mikels explained that he took no credit for the movie because it just wasn't his style. It was released by his production company, Genini, and that was enough for him. Mikels also helped in promotion, advertising, and dealing with theaters, but sold his interest back to Producer Gary Goch when he became impatient about receiving payments from theater showings. 

On IMDB Ted Mikels is now credited as an Executive Producer of Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, but if his own words can be believed, he had far more to do with the look of the movie than just investing a few dollars in the beginning. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Alan Ormsby, Star of Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

Almost everyone knows Alan Ormsby portrayed the role of the detestable Alan in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, but it is less known that he also wrote the script, and did the make-up effects. Ormsby teamed up with the movie's director Bob Clark again twice in 1974 for the films Deranged and Death Dream, then again for Porky's II, where he again wrote the script. 

Here is Alan Ormsby having a goofy moment on Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things. He is quoted as saying about the three movies he made with Bob Clark in the early 1970's: "They were fun to make. There was a kind of communal experience about the process I haven't experienced since." That feeling comes across clearly in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things. I have several friends who make films, and on occasion I get asked to stand in as an extra or just to fill in on set, and knowing that you like the people you are working with makes a lot of difference. Even though the subject matter is grim, it really comes across that these people liked each other and were having fun.

I remember this book from Scholastic books when I was in grade school. Movie Monsters: Monster Make-Up & Monster Shows To Put On. It instructed children how to do monster make up, make fake blood, and stage shows for their neighborhood as he had done when he was younger. 

Ormsby remained in demand as a make up artist throughout the 1970's, doing the make up effects for the Toten Corps zombies in Ken Wiederhorn's classic NAZI zombie movie Shock Waves in 1977.

Shock Waves Zombie from the 1977 Nazi Zombie film by Ken Wiederhorn, make up by Alan Ormsby. This was to be his final make up credit, which is a shame, because I find his work to have been impressive in two classic zombie movies. 

But Ormsby was multi-talented and continued to work as a writer of the screenplays for My Bodyguard, Cat People, Popcorn, The Substitute, and eventually for the television series Nash Bridges and The District.

Although clearly capable of sparkling as an actor, as his electric performance in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things Proves, Ormsby only appeared in one other movie, Dead of Night, and one cameo in the 1974 film Lenny. 

Ormsby met Bob Clark when both were in the drama department at the University of Florida. The pair were responsible for CSPWDT as well as the early 70's classic Death Dream and Deranged, where they helped introduce a young Tom Savini to the horror movie genre.

The Great Masquerade 1974 directed by Alan Ormsby

One film of his I have not seen but will soon is the 1974 movie The Great Masquerade, about a cop who goes undercover as a drag queen on a cruise ship in order to infiltrate a gang of drug smugglers. I almost refuse to accept this is the premise of a real movie until I see it. When I do I will report back. There are no user reviews on IMDB. I may remedy that later tonight if I can find it. Also known as The AC/DC Caper and Murder On the Emerald Seas. I think this movie needs a blog entry of its own. More later.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Working titles interest me, because whenever I assign a working title to a book it always ends up being the final title. I wonder if this is just from familiarity, laziness, or knowing what I really wanted in the first place. 

I wonder what a production schedule of 14 days and $50,000 would get you these days? I have a friend who just raised $4,000 for his latest film through crowdfunding. I appeared in one of his zombie shorts he used to do every year a long time ago. 

I always thought it was cool that directors like Bob Clark would work with the same people over and over. It's conceivable if my friend became famous I might be in one of his movies. You can really see in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, even in Porky's, and many of Bob Clark's other movies that these are people who liked working together and were being treated right. 

Aside from Zreaks, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things was also known as Revenge of the Living Dead and Things From The Dead. I think there are probably at least a couple of other movies titled revenge of the Living Dead, but I've never heard of one called Things From the Dead. I wonder what the deciding factor in titling the movie CSPWDT was.

I see on IMDB Jane Daly is the only actor from the movie who has an IMDB picture. I also see that this movie was shot back to back with Dead of Night as a two picture deal, using many of the same crew. This might be sacrilege, but I didn't care for Dead of Night very much because the central character was cruel, and it was just a mean movie. I'm not fond of movies where people are systematically tortured, like Cape Fear. 

Two more tidbits I just dug up on IMDB. The tombstones were made of styrofoam, and had the names of various crew members on them. I now have to go check that out by watching Zreaks again.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things Gorgon Video VHS

Instead of watching The Monster Club two or three times tonight while I work I think I'm going to put in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things on Gorgon Video. I received this copy of the Gorgon Video release last week.

                    Gorgon Video Children Shouldn't Play With Dead                                                            Things Gorgon Video VHS

I would love to watch this movie with Jenny one time, but unfortunately she's deathly afraid of zombies, so I've never watched any zombie movie with here. I got my burrito ready and sat down to watch, and sadly there was a Faces of Death preview before the movie. Put me off of eating altogether, and now the sound is garbled. perhaps it will stabilize, but it seems doubtful.

I've never see the movie in this release format, so I was a little excited. The Bee Kind, Rewind sticker is slightly ironic, as the last viewer did not rewind. I imagine this video being rented hundreds of times at the mom and pop video store, Coral Video, in Florida, and probably dozens of times being returned in anger when the viewers saw that Faces of Death promo, which is completely uncensored and as grotesque and disturbing as I remember. 

The sound is still garbled, although the picture seems much clearer than even the DVD releases I've seen. That Faces of Death preview sort of through me for a loop. Also, my bean burrito has freezer burn. An inauspicious start to this viewing party. This is the description from the back of the box...

While preparing themselves for an upcoming play, five aspiring actors are led to a deserted burial island by their bizarre director/mentor Alan. (Alan Ormsby-Deranged, Cat People, Porky's II).

     Alan, a "Manson type," seems to exert strange control over his group who he calls his "children." 

     At Alan's urging the "Children" dig up a rotting corpse and Alan attempts a revival with various occult incantations.

     After his apparent failure, the harried children are forced to take the corpse back to their cabin to party.

     Unfortunately, in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, the dead do rise-and they are hungry.

     Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things thrust its unwitting performers into a nightmare of madness and murder in a gruesome movie that follows in the infamous tradition of Night of the Living Dead.

     Occasionally campy and always terrifying- don't see this one alone.

VHS boxes were really interesting because most of the time it was readily apparent that the person who wrote the description for the distributor either never saw the movie, hated the movie, or was incredibly high when they saw the movie. This is an example of that. Also, one was often left wondering why the person who created a cool video box wasn't the person who directed the movie, especially when the movie wasn't half as interesting as the box.

Wait a minute, about a half an hour in the sound is starting to stabilize. I've never seen this on Beta, but maybe I'll even find an 8mm film print some day and watch it. 

Geez I'm glad I didn't ever make the mistake of putting in this tape when Jenny or the kids were around. 

I'm always struck by a few things every time I watch this movie. 

-The island cemetery isn't on an island at all. It's the same one used in Porky's II, and clearly is not on an island.

-I always wondered why almost none of these actors worked very much after this. They all seemed rather competent. 

-This crew just seemed to be having a lot of fun and liking each other. This seems to be born out in that many of them worked in various capacities in future Bob Clark/Alan Ormsby productions. I'd really like to interview some of them and ask if they truly were having the good time it appears they are, maybe get a few stories from that era. 

I guess my final question is if there is any material after the movie. There doesn't appear to be any difference in this cut from any other I've seen. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Two Incantations To Call Forth Satan and Raise the Dead

The Satanic incantation Alan utters after the offering of baby blood

Oh Great Diviner, Master of the Three Worlds, disciple who became master, Lord of the netherworld, Lord of night, Prince of Darkness, despoiler of light, diviner of powers, redeemer of passions, crucible of flesh. By the power incarnate, by the flesh made prowd, by the soul devoured of itself, by these words we do implore, by these deeds we do supplicate and call upon the grace of thee Lord almighty of the underworld to release the souls of all thy servants who lie here unredeemed, to release them to serve thy servant, to bend their wills always to his, thus to thy own. By the blood of babes unborn, by the iversion of the savior, by the bond of thy own hand we do entreat thee, deliver them up to us, to command in thy name, to serve our will and thine own. By Lucifer, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, Arcades, and all the underlords we do entreat thee let them rise, let them rise up spriritus aquitanes await thee let them rise, rise up, Satan, God of all.

They Must be out to lunch.

Shut up, Jeffrey.

Looks like a no show. -Val

Fraud. Cheap plasic fraud. Satan? You phony. You liar. You sorry sot. I paid my money and I expect my merchandise. You cretinous clown. You don't have any power. Petty panderer. Cheap, chisling con artist. Two-bit, penny-ante potion peddler.

You lose, Alan, you lose. Your summation is a bummer. A silly little ghost story. You should have stuck to the clown act, it suits your talent. And your villification of Satan is rice pudding. Soggy oatmeal. Stale goods, Alan, like all your creative efforts. You're a clerk, Alan, a bookkepper- you better accept that. And you know why? Because it takes an artist to deal with the Devil. Not an insurance man with delusions of grandeur. Get out of the grave. Get out of the grave, Alan, let an artist show you how to call a curse down on Satan.

Val's derisive invection against Satan. Which gets The Horned One's attention?

Hail Satanic majesty. Hail mighty master of evil. Tormenter of lost souls. Paragon of perfidy. Antichrist. Vilest of the vile. Respected foe of Jehovah and the Archangels. Usurper. Seducer. Panderer supreme. Hail! So, what's with this little thing we're asking? A few rotting corpses to serve out meager needs. So, what's the trouble, hmm? You got the blood you were asking, right? You got Orville, right? You've got the warlock and his warchest, right? Is that a bargain, I ask you? A wizrd first class. So, where's the goods? Satan, you tweaker of puppy dog tails. You bilious bag of bombast. You paltry purveyor of potions. You half-witted halogon of horse manure. Mighty master of evil? Ha! Your most terrifying trick is growing warts on old ladies' noses, scaring scarecrows, snitching buttons, ingrown toenails, corns, and chicken pocks. 

That's your speed. 

You rang?