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Release Date: December 6th, 2022 Movie Release Year: 1973

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

The late great Bob Clark is having a 4K moment this year after two great other releases, his third feature Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things comes to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in a new 50th Anniversary set from VCI with mixed results. The film was never amazing to look at to begin with and this SDR 4K presentation doesn’t do it many favors but it’s a fun low-budget zombie flick with great audio and an excellent assortment of bonus features to dig into. Worth A Look


The SET-UP: Five young kinky actors and their artistic director come to a desolate and nearly forgotten burial island, complete with a morbid history of MURDER, RAPE, CURSES and DEMONS. Alan (Alan Ormsby), the brilliant but bizarre Director of the company, has brought them to this foreboding place to dabble in witchcraft; specifically to dig up a fresh corpse and use it in a ritual ceremony which is supposed to raise the dead from their graves. The PAY-OFF: It seems as though Alan has really gathered his ""children"" here, only to play a practical joke on them and then to party the rest of the night away. However, the joke's on Alan. His bizarre ritual ceremony really does raise the dead from their graves...only they're in no mood to party! NOTE: ""BENJAMIN"" CLARK is really ""BOB"" CLARK, the creative director behind the hit films PORKY'S, BLACK CHRISTMAS and A CHRISTMAS STORY among others. ALAN ORMSBY, though he turned in what has been described as ""...one of the most obnoxious screen performances in history!"", has actually made a mark for himself as the screenwriter for such memorable films as MY BODYGUARD, CAT PEOPLE, KARATE KID 3 and PORKY'S 2.

UHD Disc #1 - 4K Feature, 4K trailer, Alan Ormsby+ commentary track and new 90-minute Bob Clark Documentary (The Horror Films of Bob Clark), plus Liner Notes booklet, 2-sided coverwrap and a O-card/slip case limited to the initial production run.
Blu-ray #2 – Restored Feature, 4K trailer, Alan Ormsby+ commentary track, and new 90-minute Bob Clark Documentary, plus Liner Notes booklet, and 2-sided coverwrap
Blu-ray #3 – ALL Extras from the 2016 Blu-ray, plus the new 2022 Alan Ormsby – Fan Q&A

Worth a Look
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + 2 x Blu-ray Discs
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English: LPCM Mono
English SDH
Release Date:
December 6th, 2022

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


Theater troupe director Alan (Alan Ormsby) has a twisted and sick sense of humor. Together with his band of actors and actresses, he aims to conjure the dead in a night of terror and practical jokes on an island that once served as a graveyard for the criminally insane. Digging up a corpse for a magic ritual, Alan’s games divide the troupe but when the ritual actually raises the dead, this company of actors will have to fight together to survive. 

Filmmakers gotta start somewhere before they hit it big and horror is usually an easy genre to make a mark. You don’t need a huge budget, you can shoot at night to hide your low-fi production values, and amateur actors are tolerated by the audience because usually, they end up dead in delightfully gory fashion. That’s pretty much the game plan for Bob Clark’s Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things - although none of the cast are children. Written and starring Alan Ormsby, the film keeps to simple basics of a gaggle of coeds trespassing into areas where they’re not wanted only here they manage to provoke the undead with a mystic encantation that raises them from their eternal slumber. 

It’s a heck of a premise for a small horror feature shot for the slim sum of $50,000 on an island off the coast of Miami, Florida. While the production value is slight with obvious cheap sets and near-weightless styrofoam gravestones, Clark effectively uses his tools to steadily build suspense for the first two-thirds of the film leaving the last act to be a balls-to-the-wall zombie flick. You’re given enough time to love and hate various members of the cast and then enjoy their ultimate demise by a gang of the undead in pancake makeup. 

At the center of the show is the delightfully hammy Alan Ormsby as the outright horrible theater company showman Alan. From the start, he’s a power-hungry jerk who treats everyone around him like dirt. Why exactly he’s so exalted by his band of players is a tidbit of a mystery, but their jobs and hopefully eventual fame hinges on tolerating his indulgences. When Alan recites an incantation from the book of the dead it’s a lark. When he digs up a dead body it’s horrifying and the group starts to show how far is too far - but by then it’s too late to stop the evil that has clawed its way out of the grave. 

It’s been the better end of twenty years since I last truly sat down to watch this flick. I had a great teacher in school who frequently showed low-budget cult classics to prove the point that you don’t need a huge budget to make a good movie, you only need a half-way decent script, plenty of preparation, and a lot of creativity. Two years later Bob Clark would show what he could really do with horror with the terrifying holiday classic Black Christmas but all of his best aspects as an efficient storyteller is on display with Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. From the steady build of suspense right down to the timely scares, you can see Clark was ahead of the game for his third feature film.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a truly great horror film, but it’s an effectively creepy one. I love the film’s dark sense of humor and I admire the gumption it took to stage a venture like this on such a slim budget crewed up by a gang of amateur filmmakers. At 87 minutes, I appreciate the film takes its time to get into the horror mischief so that when the creatures do pop out of their graves it’s shocking and scary right through to the final haunting images as the credits roll. 


Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things celebrates 50 years of grave-defiling horror with a new three-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray collection from VCI. The 4K version scores a BD-66 disc with a BD-50 reserved for the 1080p version and another BD-50 disc for bonus features. The discs are housed in a sturdy multi-disc case with alternate slipcover artwork and reversible insert art. The two Blu-ray discs were stacked with the 4k disc getting its own bay. Also included is a six-page booklet with an essay by Patrick McCabe detailing the film’s production and life on home video. The discs load to animated main menus with traditional navigation options.

Video Review


To celebrate fifty years of Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, VCI delivers a new SDR 4K 2160p 1.85:1 transfer that is best described as probably as good as it's going to get. To be fair, this movie has never looked great on home video and while this is probably the best the film has looked on disc, it’s not exactly a stunning example. Part of what fights this release is the exceedingly simple no-frills production values. Shot cheap at night with an amateur crew, there are lighting issues, focus issues, and then there are simply scenes that are so damn dark it’s neigh impossible to see what’s going on. I’ve never seen a film print of this one so my reference points are the old DVD and briefly looking at the 2016 Blu-ray while clerking a video store in Chicago. Black crush is a problem, but then I’ve never known it not to be an issue. When things are in focus and well-lit, the film can actually look quite good with some bright healthy colors and sharp details in the makeup of the undead and the cast.

It’s just that those shots are intermittent with any number of issues including a noisy grain structure niggling in between. The 1080p Blu-ray version included in this set isn’t any better either. I’ll slightly tip the edge to the 4K disc because those really good shots do look better, but on the flipside when it doesn’t look great it’s easier to see the issues and faults smacking this title. As I’ve only ever seen this movie a handful of times, I’m not proficient in its history or handling over the years but given what I know about the production unless there’s a magically perfect print out there, this one just isn’t going to be a showstopper regardless of the format. Which then makes you ask “why do a 4K disc at all?” It’s alright, for this film it is what it is.

Audio Review


At least on the audio front Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things scores a lively and effective LPCM 2.0 track. Indicative of the low-fi shoot, the dialog can come and go as it sounds like every line was recorded on set without any over-dub to clean things up. Sometimes voices are right on the money, sometimes they’re hot, others they’re practically a whisper. This is especially the case when our gathering of theater folk is in the cemetery. Once things move into the old cabin it cleans up a bit since the location is much tighter. There are some simbalance issues here and there, but I’d wager that’s all part of the original recordings and can’t be fixed too much. All in all, it’s a solid track and that last act is pretty great horror creature feature stuff.

Special Features


The big get for fans of this indy horror gem is the collection of bonus features. Between the three discs, you’ve got hours of interesting content ahead of you. I love it when low-budget movies like this one get a stacked slate of extras. It highlights how much heart and care went into the production to bring it home. The various personalities interviewed clearly had a lot of love for the show and gave it their all. It’s a nice selection of new and archival bonus features. The Alan Ormsby interview is well worth digging into but apparently, something got cocked up with the audio so there are subtitles to help you out. 

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc 

  • Audio Commentary featuring Alan Ormsby, Jane Daly and Anya Cronin
  • Dreaming of Death: Bob Clark's Horror Films (HD 1:12:50) 
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (4K 3:13)

Blu-ray Disc One

  • Audio Commentary featuring Alan Ormsby, Jane Daly and Anya Cronin
  • Dreaming of Death: Bob Clark's Horror Films (HD 1:12:50) 
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (4K 3:13)

Blu-ray Disc Two

  • New Interview with Alan Ormsby (HD 33:32)
  • Confessions of a Grave Digger - Interview with Ken Goch (HD 9:08)
  • Grindhouse Q & A (HD 11:27)
  • Memories of Bob Clark: A Tribute to the Late Director (HD 10:08) 
  • "Dead Girls Don't Say No" The Deadthings Music Video (HD 3:50)
  • "Cemetery Mary" The Deadthings Music Video (HD 3:55)
  • Tribute Video (HD 2:00)
  • Photo Gallery
  • Radio Spots

As Bob Clark’s third feature film, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is a prime example of low-budget filmmaking gone right. Assembling an amateur cast and crew of college buddies, Clark managed to craft a solid and creepy horror flick that still holds up five decades later. Sure, it’s not the greatest film ever and Clark would go on to bigger and better projects, but this is a showcase of what a talented filmmaker can accomplish with very little. Now for the film’s Golden Anniversary, VCI delivers a new three-disc 4K set for fans to devour. The video transfer for either 4K or Blu-ray isn’t something to get too excited about. Given the production limitations, it was never a film that ever looked amazing on home video and this round stresses the need of a 4K disc at all with only a few subtle improvements over its 1080p counterpart. Audio is in relatively solid shape considering all things and the collection of bonus features is well worth digging into. It’s no Black Christmas or A Christmas Story but it’s kind of awesome to see the late great Bob Clark’s catalog get so much home video love this year. Ultimately this one is Worth A Look.