I Saw a Film!

This cult classic, starring famous make-up artist Alan Ormsby and his lovely little wife, sport some of the best outfits (much less hippy and far more “clown”) and deliver some of the greatest “bad” dialog you’re likely to cringe at this side of a porn video that insists on having a “story”.

Basically, a group of buddies, some of which are actors (possibly they’re all actors, I wasn’t sure) take a trip out to a graveyard island (which actually exists as part of NYC) in a kind of expectation of having some sort of adventure with spirits, or demons, or scaring their girlfriends maybe? What actually happens, after they manage to scare the pee out of one another, is they dig up a corpse and play with it for far too long. Ormsby the wife, is a doll. She’s very spooky and has some of the best trippy-hippy moments in the film, but her big lovely eyes sell the role.

Eventually they really dig themselves in deep and end up actually bringing a slew of dead folks back to life. Considering the age of this thing, being just a touch younger than Romero’s incipient zombie epic, I’d say they did a fine job with the typical zombie hoard which are of course starving for living people. This makes complete sense for people who’ve been deprived of human contact for as long as they have been, and their desire to literally eat people probably is just the effect of such deprivation.

The usual problems that plague zombie films are in full effect here, the dead are not very convincingly dead, though they are ugly and creepy, there’s far too much left of them to imagine them corpses from the grave. Some years ago I read an article about Civil War grave-robbing. For a time, and in certain places, having war memorabilia from that era drives a thriving underground (groan) industry! Investigators said that what’s left of a Civil War era body will fit in the palm of your hand. What the robbers are after are buttons, medals, buckles and the holy grail: swords. I also worked for a time in forensic entomology. This time of year, July, where I am, North Carolina – a piece of meat of any sort out in the elements won’t last but a few hours. We placed 200lb hogs in cages (so large animals couldn’t feed on them) and they are literally down to bones in a matter of 2.5-3 days. There’s a reason we don’t find a lot of dead stuff in the woods, creatures, especially a large variety of insects, make short work of the resource. So you can imagine my zombie complaints. There are generally not enough flies, and not enough dogs tearing them to bits. Also, they have eyes . . . eyes are tough membranes full of liquid but once we die that membrane can’t keep the liquid from draining out. Eyes don’t last long. Are we grossed out enough yet?

Eyes are important because of one scene of this film that really is the fun bit. And I’m going to give it away. The zombies manage to chase the Ormsbys back into the shack and cornered husband throws wife to the hungry creatures who all, wife included, fix him with an intense judgmental–Oh no you ditn’t–glare before they chow down on her. It’s a fun guffaw, and “Oooh, bad-guy” moment, but all those eyes . . .

I doubt we’re meant to like any of the characters in the thing, and so seeing them get swarmed or carried off is sort of the point, or thrill of the ride. This film lacks a bit of the creep factor the old Romero Night of the Living Dead has, especially when you meet the rednecks who are sporting with the shooting of the zombies. There are at least a few sympathetic characters in that old movie, this one is more of a comedy because we’re really rooting for zombies.

The Ormsbys would divorce a few years later and I feel certain husband tossing wife to the monsters had to be part of what instigated that. I know it was just a movie, but her glare is hard. She doesn’t even scream, just glares.

Anyway, this hilarious bit of horror film history is free on Prime making it well worth the experience. And while I gave away possibly the best bit, there’s plenty more, and really what are you watching a zombie movie for?

3 thoughts on “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972)

    1. Ha ha, I was working for a medical and veterinary entomology professor on a forensics course, we would train the police to recognize and calculate time of death based on the age of maggots and condition of the bodies. NC is a lovely place, especially the coast and the mountains, the middle flat area (where I am) isn’t quite so impressive, but folks are still pretty decent and the food is spectacular.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely, had some awesome food in Charlottesville, some hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains, did some panning for gold on a press trip there. Fortunately maggot aging didn’t come up, but a cool thing to slip into your review!

        Liked by 1 person

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