Best known for A Christmas Story and Porky’s, the late Bob Clark also helmed two of the best but underappreciated horror pictures of the 1970s. Black Christmas, a slasher film that ranks second only to Halloween, features an inspired and bitchy turn by Margot Kidder as the horny head of a sorority house. Even better is Death Dream, which transforms the short story The Monkey’s Paw into a Vietnam parable, and the tone of melancholic dread rather than shock horror makes it a fitting double-bill with George A. Romero’s Martin. I highlight Clark’s high-water marks in the genre to encourage viewers to seek out those little-seen, truly eerie gems. Clark’s first film, on the other hand, is memorable only for its catchy title: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. Made on the cheap and inspired by early Romero, this zombie flick doesn’t even have the dead rise until the final half-hour. Until then, we’re stuck with an amateur theater troupe chattering away as they venture out to an abandoned island for a goofy séance. These supremely irritating characters are the kind of self-involved, pseudo-witty theater brats you tried to avoid in college. When the zombies finally appear, it’s a bit of a relief to see them munching on their victims. Audiences will either embrace the bad makeup and nonexistent special effects as part of the “Hey kids, let’s put on a show” aesthetic of Clark’s film, or wonder why this movie gained such a minor cult reputation in the first place. Clark went on to make some truly astonishing, even heartbreaking, scary movies; do yourself a favor and seek those out instead.
- Geneni Film Distributors
- 87 min
- Bob Clark
- Bob Clark, Alan Ormsby
- Alan Ormsby, Valerie Mamches, Jeffrey Gillen, Anya Ormsby, Paul Cronin
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