Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things

Okay, I saw this when I was a kid in the 70’s, and most people who saw this as kids at that time didn’t use much of their upstairs hard drives to remember the lengthy build-up that is two thirds of this movie. The movie was ghoulishly funny in an adult way that was really beyond a tyke’s comprehension, so kids tended to sit there for an hour scratching their chins, understanding only vaguely that the acting troupe performing satanic rituals on the “burial island” (or whatever it is), is doing something monstrously, horribly WRONG. What they’re doing is worse than devil-worship, actually; they’re being generally disrespectful in a kind of place (a cemetery) that demands respect as a first requirement. They’re…asking for it.

Why these people are so bizarre is anybody’s guess. Why the crazed leader of the theatre group, Alan (Alan Ormsby), has chosen this place and these activities for a night of fun is never explored. These people all simply appear to be warped. And, in the tradition of E.C. comics, transgressors are not given a chance to learn the error of their ways and repent; however silly and young and “sorry” you may be, in this universe, if you do something that the spirits of the dead strongly dislike, you will be punished–as in, you will be ripped unceremoniously apart by ghouls, and devoured. While screaming. And then the ghouls will steal your boat.

And the little kids watching this on late-night TV in the 70’s seemed to understand this implicitly. It was not at all surprising what happened to this group of misguided transgressors. You may not have deeply understood the fine details of “why.” But you knew SOMETHING TRULY AWFUL was going to happen to them, and that essentially, they deserved it. I remember when I watched it that before the film started, the station (Channel 9 out here in Los Angeles) would show scenes of the “good stuff” to get you jazzed, so, you knew some “zombie consequences” were coming down the pike. These people were seriously doomed. And for all its cheapness and crudity and cheesy performances, this is a very frightening and threatening flick, and no one who’s seen it, I am willing to wager, has ever gone to a deserted cemetery to jokingly work Satanic rituals for the purpose of raising the dead. The rituals might actually work. And where would you be then?? Huh??? This is a feature length public service announcement to teach kids A.) not to work satanic rituals, because it’s wrong, and B.) to always consider the feelings of other people, particularly dead people, because there are consequences to pissing people off–particularly dead people. As such, the film reenforced a lot of strong moral values, and did a lot of kids a lot of good, I feel.

This is a casual, home-made horror film. The goopy red blood has a little bit of peanut butter in it to make it flow better and give it some opacity. The actors are probably wearing clothes from their personal wardrobes, and those hairstyles are theirs as well. It looks like some nice sets were built (nice considering the almost nonexistent budget of this piece), but the tone is almost that of a backyard Halloween show. The participants are having fun more than anything else–college kids playing with masks and dirt and sticky stuff, just barely aware that they’re making a twisted 70’s morality play. This is grim, upsetting material, and irredeemably wicked and bizarre, but really somehow very enjoyable.