Friday, October 31, 2014

BAD DREAMS




There’s no denying that the 1960s was a transformative, important and turbulent decade. One of the most recognizable pop culture elements from the 60s was the nebulous counterculture movement, a loosely connected series of phenomena that covered everything from feminism, anti-war demonstrations and racial boundary pushing. One of the most noted (and arguably most derided) of these counterculture outcrops was the free love movement, especially the branch often just called “the hippies”. By the time the 1960s were coming to a close, the hippie movement, at times, seemed like a fulfillment of the promise of the counterculture. Then the 1960s fell apart in rapid succession. Woodstock wrapped up on August 18, 1969. It was, by most accounts, a wonderful experience. But the media were already covering something very different.

On August 9, Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Steve Parent were murdered by the followers of cult leader Charles Manson. The next day, they would kill Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. To the police and the American public, the identities of the killers would remain unknown for months. In December, arrests were finally made and the faces of the accused would be shown on television for the first time. But they weren’t the typical killers. They were flower children. They were the counterculture. The Altamont Speedway Free Festival, an outdoor concert devised as a kind of “Woodstock on the West Coast”, was held just 6 days after the arrest of the Tate-LaBianca killers. It was meant to be a peaceful festival but it ended infamously when an African American man named Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by the Hells Angels, a motorcycle gang that had been hired as security for the festival. The murder was caught on film and would later become the central narrative event in the David and Albert Maysles documentary GIMME SHELTER. The two concerts, Woodstock and Altamont, became metaphoric bookends for the counterculture movement. One was the fulfillment. The other was the death. When the shots were fired at Kent State in May of the next year, whatever was left of the movement was sullied forever.

The counterculture movement, tainted by the aftermath of the Manson murder trial, would forever be linked to psychopathy in the horror film. For example, there is an echo of the cynical, Conservative view of the counterculture movement in Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, a movie which concerns a brain dead (for the lack of a better word) horde arriving to challenge and overthrow the prevailing culture. Cult leaders became more sadistic than ever and more manipulative. Several Manson inspired films came out during the 1970s. Simply put, the aftershocks of 1969 were felt throughout pop culture for a very long time. When Jim Jones ordered the suicide of his 909 followers in his Peoples Temple compound in Jonestown, Guyana, in November 1978, those aftershocks turned into tsunamis.

BAD DREAMS recognizes those shock waves. It also recognizes the capitalistic and objectivist elements of the 1980s, two newer cult-like cultural movements. It tells the story of Cynthia, a young woman who awakens from a 13 year long coma. Cynthia is in a mental institution under the care of Dr. Alex Karmen. When Cynthia was a teenager, she was a member of a cult that called itself Unity Field. They were a peaceful commune that believed in the solidarity of humanity, that they needed to give up everything about themselves and just love one another. One night, the leader, a man named Franklin Harris, decides to baptize his followers with kerosene. He then sets them, and himself, ablaze. The only person to survive is Cynthia. Trapped in the institution and forced to undergo group therapy, Cynthia becomes convinced that Harris has returned to kill her. One by one, the men and women in the institution begin to die horrible deaths. Cynthia believes that Harris is killing them. The staff and police think they’re just suicides. For the sake of those wanting to watch the film, I’ll stop there.

BAD DREAMS was billed as a kind of successor to the throne of Freddy Krueger with the horribly burned visage of Harris prominent in print and video ads. It certainly has similarities with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS. Both films are set in mental institutions. Both deal with repression. Both films have murders being masked as suicides. Lastly, both films star Jennifer Rubin. Where the difference really lies is in the minutiae of the narrative and its eventual outcome. While DREAM WARRIORS kept to the tried and true “sins of the father” style narrative, BAD DREAMS focuses more on the conflict between the free love 1960s and the "me first" 1980s. Using Cynthia as an audience identifier, the film addresses not only the possible outcomes of a society that strives for personal betterment and advancement over that of the common society, the main point of difference between the 60s and 80s, but also the lost possibilities of the inbetween years. It is the ultimate in cynical social commentary. The past has been obliterated by a future no one wanted. In its place a shrine to the inner focused and selfish individual was constructed. There’s no place in this new world for Cynthia. All that can be asked of her to is to get on some mood pills, forget the good that once was and suck it up. As the film progresses, Cynthia begins to fall more and more under Harris’s spell. Not because of her weakness. She simply stops wanting to live in a world that could find no compromise between love and selfishness.

I like BAD DREAMS. I think it has more to offer than most of the horror films of the 1980s. It is nasty when it wants to be and the plot machinations add a sense of forward thinking to the proceedings. I don’t want to spoil this film so I won’t talk about specifics but I will say that the film ends much differently than you would expect it to. The ending is a source of mixed reactions. Some people dislike it because it breaks with the established reality of the film, pushing it more into giallo territory. I happen to like it because it brings the subtext of the film to a much more satisfying conclusion. This is a film I enjoy thinking about more than I enjoy watching (which is weird for a horror film) and I will say with absolute conviction that this is not a brain dead film. There’s a lot to chew on and the text of the film is married to a fair amount of striking visual moments. That puts in a different league than most horror films. It isn’t perfect (no film really is) and it won’t satisfy everyone (no film really does) but for what it has to offer, BAD DREAMS certainly delivers.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

V/H/S/ 2




V/H/S/ 2 is a massive improvement over V/H/S/, an anthology film far too preoccupied with misogyny and splatter to do anything really noteworthy. It was bloated and overlong, outfitted with a wraparound story that failed to tie the whole thing together. Only two of the stories were visually inspired. Two of them were absolute disasters. But people seemed to like it (go figure…) so here comes the sequel. Immediately, the sequel is better. Why? Because it only runs 96 minutes. At 116 minutes, the original felt interminable. The sequel also dials down the sexism and misogyny, replacing them with tales that don’t want to alienate every woman watching. Not that the film doesn’t contain some squeamish fan service for the 16 years old boys in the audience, but the percentage is definitely, thankfully, lower.

The wraparound story continues the tradition of the original. It’s total shit, barely even qualifying as a story. The first segment, Phase I Clinical Trials, is the worst of the bunch and the one most written to appeal to hormonal teenagers. Basically a rip-off of the Pang Brother’s THE EYE, this tale revolves around a man who has received an eye implant, actually a camera that records everything he sees, relaying the signal back to an anonymous cybertech corporation. Only a few hours after receiving the implant, he begins seeing ghosts. A young woman shows up at his apartment to tell him all about the spectral encounters she’s been having since receiving a bionic ear implant. But really, the only reason she’s there is to strip naked. After fucking our hero's brains out, she is drowned by a ghost. With no other option, he decides to cut out his implant.

Utilizing the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY brand of horror, this is nothing more than a loud, boring assortment of jump scares. It also has the stupidest explanation for the found footage angle in this entire series of films. Not only does the implant look stupid, it’s only here as an excuse for someone to cut their eye out. Also, I would like to add that Adam Wingard is as good in front of the camera as he is behind it. Which is to say that he’s horrible.

Things step up a bit with the next segment, A Ride in the Park. It isn’t the first zombie film told from the perspective of a zombie but it is definitely witty and entertaining, only let down by an overly sentimental (and within the zombie canon, completely ridiculous) ending. The third segment is more of the same, interesting and entertaining but somewhat ruined by a ridiculous ending. This segment is called Safe Haven and it concerns a documentary crew visiting the compound of a religious cult. As the interview goes on, the behavior of the cult members becomes more erratic, eventually exploding (in one instance, literally) in violence. It is revealed that the female interviewer is pregnant, something the cult members are very interested in. The segment ends with the birth of a massive, hilariously fake, horned demon.

Safe Haven is the most interesting segment of the film, one that could have easily been expanded into a noteworthy feature. It is the longest of the segments and the one that has the most going on in it. But it still feels painfully brief. Much of the plot is cursory and not explained well. After the segment ended, I wanted more. I wanted to understand more. Perhaps it’s just because I’m a sucker for a good cult story, but I genuinely wanted more time with this story. Because of its short running time, it devolves into little more than a collection of violent scenes. This change from tense to bloody comes about too suddenly and ruins the flow of the segment. It doesn’t feel earned but that is a result of the running time allotted and not because of the writers. A feature length would have worked much better and the dedicated budget could have gone a ways to fix the absolutely stupid looking demon that threatens to sink the segment into the cold depths of unintentional comedy.

And then we get to the final segment, Slumber Party Alien Abduction. I don’t know exactly how to feel about this one. It’s technically the most accomplished (it’s about time we have a dog cam in a horror film, especially since we’ve already had a dog flashback scene in THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2) but it’s also garish, obnoxiously loud, and incredibly disorienting. It’s also, despite its great title, ultimately forgettable. After the first films terrible alien sequence, Joe Swanberg’s dreadful The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger, I was hesitant to sit down and watch yet another V/H/S/ alien story. This one turned out much better. It’s a fun segment, light on story, heavy on spectacle, but it all turns out to be much ado about nothing. There isn’t much of an impact. Still, I loved the attaching of a GoPro to a dog. It gets bonus points for that. I also liked that it did the traditional “found footage ending shot” thing of the camera lying on the ground, staring dispassionately at the last person to hold it. Even if that poor, dying creature is a cute, little dog.

V/H/S/ 2 is uneven and frustrating. The frustration is the result of the film never really achieving a consistent level of quality. The tone is also all over the place (which I suppose is fine in an anthology film but one that really sticks out here). As a sequel, it is a much better film than the original. As I’ve stated, the horrible stink of misogyny is gone and much of the violence is toned down. It now genuinely feels like a film and not just a throwaway piece of fan service. If the series can keep the level of improvement going, we might get a winner in V/H/S/ 4.

HELLGATE


I just finished watching HELLGATE. I have no idea what it was about. I honestly don’t. The film starts with a bunch of 30 year old 20-somethings telling ghost stories. One of them brings up a local fable concerning a young woman who was kidnapped by some bikers. With little more than rape on their minds, they take her to the shitty little town of Hellgate. Before they can even get off of their bikes, the young woman’s father shows up. He tosses a cleaver at the lead biker, striking him in the head. Bad idea. The biker loses control of his bike and drives it head first into the young woman, killing her. Years later, the father finds a magic crystal. Turns out the crystal can bring dead things back to life. He uses it on a couple of dead animals before deciding to use it on the body of his dead, hot daughter. She comes back to life as a kind of phantom, luring young men back to the town of Hellgate. A friend of our group of *ahem* 20-somethings gets lost on the way to meet his storytelling friends. That’s when he spots our lovely undead villain in the middle of the road.

From there, things get shaky. And by shaky, I mean “make no fucking sense”. I spent more time trying to figure out which timeline we were in, what time of the day it was, and where the characters were moving to than I did actually paying attention to the dialogue and on-screen action. From what I can tell, the film happens all in one evening, but there’s no way that could possibly happen because of the series of events. The magical crystal is never explained nor does it operate consistently throughout the film. At one point, the father uses it to bring back a goldfish, which then mutates into a volleyball sized monster. I kept waiting for that to happen to his daughter but it never did. It can also shoot lasers whenever the film decides it should. We get a whole subplot concerning one of the bikers but it literally goes nowhere, even though the film purposefully brings him into the narrative twice.

It’s just a fucking mess. And it’s not even an entertaining mess. How do you make such a nonsensical piece of shit - one that features exploding turtles, gigantic goldfish puppets, impromptu can can dances performed by zombies, laser shooting rocks - and yet fail to make it even laughable? And who do you hire for your lead? Ron Palillo. That’s right. Motherfucking Arnold Horshack is playing a twenty something year old lover boy, even going buck naked in the most awkward massage scene ever put on film. How in the hell was this not a camp masterpiece? How is it that I sat all the way through the film without applauding even once?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW


I used to post on horror forums. A lot. Go ahead and name any big horror forum on the internet. I was a member on that forum. One of the most common topics I read about was that horror should not be PG or PG-13, that “real horror” was only R-rated fare. The people who were saying this would call themselves "real horror fans". But I don’t think they were. I think they were gore fans. At some point (I’m looking at you, 1980s), horror became inescapably bound up with spilled blood and body parts. There has always been a flesh aversion in horror. Horror has long been preoccupied with the horrors of the body and the horrors that can be wrought upon the body. But that isn’t the primary interest of horror. It isn’t the end-all, be-all of horror. Horror can exist without spilled blood and exposed offal. The people who don’t want to watch anything that doesn’t have copious amounts of carnage are not watching horror films for the true purpose of horror, to create fear and dread. They’re watching it for the pleasant side effects of the special effects revolution, the gore, the torn-out throats and shredded corpses.

There is nothing wrong with that. I enjoy a good special effects show. They’re magic tricks, no different than making a woman disappear or pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I enjoy that. But I enjoy the other aspects of horror more. I enjoy being frightened. I enjoy being placed in uncomfortable positions. Neither of those things requires a single drop of spilled blood. Neither one of those things requires an R rating. The people who dismiss PG rated horror or PG-13 rated horror are simply looking for something different from horror films. They don’t want horror predicated on what horror is. They want horror predicated on what horror can entail.

I think the final segment of TRILOGY OF TERROR is probably one of the most universally loved bits of horror from the 1970s. The killer Zuni fetish doll is a remarkable bit of horror imagination. It is a piece of film I first saw nearly ten years after it first aired on ABC. It scared the hell out of me. This little bit of film features nearly no blood. What it did best was create an unrelenting sense of dread. Watching it was pure fear and adrenaline. If it were released into theaters in 1975, it would have rated PG. Released today, it would be hard to rate it higher than PG-13. For those people who only accept horror if it is positively dripping with blood, this final segment of TRILOGY OF TERROR would seem like a disappointment. But they usually love it. Same goes for \HALLOWEEN, a film that would only get an R rating for its nudity. So it seems more than a little odd that horror films without an R rating get disparaged so frequently on horror forums and blogs.

The release of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW was met with elation from many horror fans. Surprisingly, some of the people who threw their hands up in disgust at PG/PG-13 rated horror seemed to be among the fans of the film. This surprised me. Not only was this a made for TV horror film (just like TRILOGY OF TERROR) but it’s a slasher film without any actual slashing. Now some people might find my categorization of this film as a slasher film a bit strange but it fits the category pretty damn well. A simple minded man named Bubba is tracked down by a group of vigilantes after a girl Bubba was playing with is nearly killed in a dog attack. Thinking Bubba is to fault, they track him to a field. Bubba is hiding inside the hollowed out costume of a scarecrow. That isn’t enough to fool the hunting dogs the men have with them. They shoot Bubba dead. When the case goes to court, the men are found not guilty. A day or so later, one of the men spots a scarecrow in his field. The men write it off as a prank. That night, one of them dies under mysterious circumstances. The others soon follow suit. Has Bubba returned from the grave to seek revenge or is someone avenging his death?

That is the kind of story that fueled dozens of slasher films. DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW however flirts with a possible supernatural explanation as well, a difference that makes it feel a bit more open-ended than the typical flesh-and-blood slasher. But that little difference doesn’t make that much of an impact until the final act. For most of its running time, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW stays with the familiar slasher territory, even though it substitutes knifes and strangulations for explosions and head-first dives into woodchippers. All of this is carried out skillfully and with great care, meting out suspense sequences that put 80% of 1970s theatrical releases to shame. As a diehard giallo fan, I appreciated the way the film directs and then misdirects repeatedly in interesting ways.

In the grand scheme of things, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW is nothing more than a blip on the radar. It doesn’t have mass appeal, primarily because it was a TV movie that never had anything like a proper home video release, but it has obviously made an impact on anyone that has seen it. It’s a cult classic and a film that works remarkably well even today. And more, it’s proof that a film that does the most important and basic of horror tasks well does not need to coat itself in blood to be effective.

BLOOD SONG


There are two distinct movies going on in BLOOD SONG. The first concerns a man named Paul. When Paul was a child, he witnessed his father shooting his mother and her lover to death. The father then turned the gun on himself. Now a man, Paul escapes the mental hospital he has called home since he was a child. Hitching a ride with a stranger, Paul becomes upset when the stranger criticizes his flute playing. As the only link Paul has left with his old life is the flute his father gave him when he was a kid, Paul doesn’t take too kindly to the criticism. He kills the man and steals the car. Later, Paul picks up a young woman. They retire to a motel that night and have sex. Again, he starts playing the flute. Again, it isn’t appreciated. Again, Paul commits a murder. The next day, Paul is out burying the body when he notices a teenage girl watching him. This is Marion and the other story belongs to her.

Marion is in love with a boy named Joey, a fisherman who is hoping to catch a job in Portland so that he can run away with Marion. Marion is anxious to leave. Her home life is a bit of a wreck. Her father is a verbally abusive drunk. Marion is partially crippled, the result of her father driving while drunk. But her biggest problem is the nightmares she’s been having recently. In every one of these dreams, she sees a man murdering someone. That man is Paul. Turns out, when Marion was in the car accident, she required a blood transfusion and the donor whose blood she received was Paul. Now they share a psychic link. When Paul spots Marion, she runs away. She tries to convince Joey that her dreams are real, that Paul isn’t some figment of her imagination. He doesn’t believe her. No one does. But as Paul closes in on her, Marion readies herself for a confrontation.

This brings us to the biggest problem with BLOOD SONG. Those two stories never coalesce into a satisfactory whole. The only link between the two stories is the nightmares, usually just a single scene cross-cut between the two narrative lines. The explanation for them, the psychic link caused by the blood transfusion, is the most ridiculous bullshit I’ve ever heard, even worse than the narrative device used in FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET. It makes the film laughable, even more than the “you don’t like my flute playing?” horseshit that proceeds every murder. It’s obvious that the psychic link was to be the films hook, that one thing it did differently than all the rest of the films this was to compete with. But why? It makes no sense. It’s the kind of childish bullshit you would expect to find in a fantasy film, not in a reality-based horror film.

The best possible solution would be to simply have the two narrative story lines. As they naturally meet up when Marion spies Paul dumping the body, the psychic link angle could have been dropped completely. It’s never even mentioned after that anyway. It just gets dropped. So why not drop it altogether? Why keep the one thing that makes the movie laughable?

Anyway… the final third of the film is actually pretty good. It’s standard, routine horror stuff but it’s done well enough. There is a particularly painful murder in the final third that more than makes up for the painfully anemic first hour and the chase scenes are done with a good degree of care and competence. If the idea of watching Frankie Avalon kill a bunch of people doesn’t make you want to give BLOOD SONG a try, I would recommend watching it just for the final third of the film. All in all, it’s not a bad film. Just a stupid one. It wastes a lot of time and meanders a bit during the first hour but the payoff is decent and the film is made fairly well for what is basically just a cheap B-movie.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS



The title HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS probably resulted in more rentals than the box art or cast list ever did. You have to hand it to the creative team. It’s a helluva title, one that pretty much sums the film up better than any other combination of words could have (save for Vroom! Vroom! Tit Parade). You would expect that the film itself would never live up to the title. Surprisingly, it does. It also happens to be the best film Fred Olen Ray ever made. Now that isn’t much of an achievement as Ray’s film tend to be absolutely painful to watch, but the man had an undeniable skill at capturing a fanbase for himself, one built around tits, blood and bad jokes.

That’s basically all HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS has to offer. It’s told as a kind of pulp fiction splatter film. A private detective named Jack Chandler is looking for a young runaway. Meanwhile, a group of psychopathic hookers are carving up their clientele with chainsaws at the behest of an Egyptian warlock. Chandler tracks the missing girl to a seedy bar but is drugged and kidnapped. The girl he is looking for is a member of the murderous chainsaw cult. Worse, they’re planning on using the girl as their ultimate sacrifice. But she has plans of her own. Out to avenge the death of her friend, she has infiltrated the cult, planning on destroying them from the inside.

Now if you forget all about the chainsaws that sounds like a somewhat respectable tale. But Ray isn’t concerned with respectability or seriousness. This is a gross out comedy through and through. In keeping with the hard boiled fiction angle, Chandler narrates the film, providing exposition and terrible one liners at a fantastic clip. The film itself moves along with all the ease of a ten cent detective novel, never pausing or wasting time, only concerned with resolving the narrative as soon as possible. Some of the material is funny. Most of it is embarrassingly bad but the film does have an infectious sense of humor and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I laughed more than I thought I would.

The skin of display comes courtesy of two of the original 1980s scream queens, Michelle Bauer, a former porn star and Penthouse pet gone semi-legit, and Linnea Quigley. Neither was ever known for their acting abilities (only Brinke Stevens, the third in the holy trilogy of 1980s scream queens, seemed to be capable of serious acting) but none of that is required here anyway. Both look good, disrobe frequently and add a level of 1980s nostalgia to the mix. Jay Richardson, the George Hilton of 1980s/90s American genre films, manages, for once, not to annoy me and Gunnar Hansen is on board to provide a little wink to the more hardcore genre fans.

At a quick 75 minutes, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s fast paced, reasonably likeable and hard to take serious. All that, combined with the flesh and blood displayed onscreen, makes it the perfect party movie or a decent enough way to waste an hour and a half. I can’t fault the film for being groan inducing because it wants to be. I can’t fault it for being poorly made because it doesn’t care if it is or not. All the film wants to do is make you chuckle and shake your head in disbelief at the onscreen mayhem. It succeeded at both. I laughed, I facepalmed and I gawked at the sight of Quigley “dancing” naked while struggling to lift two massive chainsaws that probably weighed more than she did. In other words, I enjoyed myself. No shame. Don’t feel bad about it at all.

CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS


CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS is an odd film, especially when viewed against DEATHDREAM. Bob Clark, director of both films, had a two picture deal. To quickly fulfill that deal, both of the aforementioned films were shot back-to-back, utilizing some of the same locations and cast. But while DEATHDREAM was a very serious, anti-Vietnam allegory, CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS is some strange mixture of horror and comedy, peppered with inside jokes about indie auteur theater, if not indie auteur cinema. The script was completed in less than two weeks and it shows. But the rushed nature of the production and the absolute lack of funds and preparation work in favor of the film. Everything is simply thrown together in a haphazard, amateurish way. It has the kind of lovable incompetence of something like PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE without the painful awfulness of, well, pretty much everything else Ed Wood Jr. made.

Giving the plot any real consideration seems like a waste. The basic idea of it is as follows: a group of theater members and their insufferable asshole of a boss, Alan, head off to a deserted island to engage in pranks, verbal abuse and a little black magic. None of the theater members want to be there but every time one of them suggests leaving or expresses displeasure at the situation, they’re threatened with unemployment. They proceed to use a freshly exhumed corpse named Orville in an attempt to summon Satan. When that fails, Alan has them drag the body back to the abandoned cottage where they will be spending the night. Soon, the dead begin to rise and lay siege to the cottage.

The zombie bit of that only accounts for about 15% of the total running time. The rest is spent listening to the characters bitch and argue and blabber and tell bad jokes. Simply put, the horror to comedy ratio favors the guffaws over the shrieks. There is an admirable attempt at horror misdirection. The film opens in full horror mode as two ghouls attack a night watchman. However, this is little more than a set-up for a false scare later in the film. The ghouls are two actors employed by Alan and the night watchman is just tied to a tree and left to whimper for the rest of the film. When the “ghouls” finally show up later during one of Alan’s dramatic “raise the dead” bits, actors scream and the ghoul flail about. Then it is all revealed to be a joke. No one laughs. Not even the audience.

But then the dead really do come back to life. And this is where the film actually earns some laughs. The best I can say is that the zombies look better than the ghouls from BURIAL GROUND. That’s really the best I can say. Some of the zombies appear to be wearing rubber masks. The rest just look like they’re coated in pancake batter. Aside from one brief scene of gut munching, the zombies mostly just drag people off screen. There’s no attempt at bloodletting. They just swarm an actor, the actor screams, cut to the next character, repeat.

So what we have here is a film that isn’t really funny and most definitely isn’t scary. So that means the film sucks, right? Well… no. I don’t know how to describe it and I sure as hell don’t know how to explain it, but CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS is a very easy film to watch and a very easy film to enjoy, even if it fails at everything it sets out to do. There’s just something about the attitude of the film and the cheap look of it that I find really endearing. It looks like something a group of friends made over a weekend. It has that homemade feel to it and a kind of “just for the hell of it” air about it. No one seems to be taking it seriously and no one seems to mind doing the stupid shit the film calls for. This is the first time in a long time that I can say that the intangibles of a film make up for the failing of the production pieces. That is honestly the best way I can describe it.