A Christmas Story Director Made A Comedy Horror First, Stream The Cult Classic Right Now

By Brian Myers | Published

The family holiday classic A Christmas Story was brought to life by the late Bob Clark, a director whose previous works weren’t exactly family-friendly. The raucous adult comedies Porky’s and Porky’s II and the slasher film Black Christmas were among his most notable works, and not something you’d likely have taken the kids to see at the theater. But a decade before his iconic Christmas movie, one of Clark’s earliest films was an extremely low-budget zombie film called Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, a cult classic that deserves quick attention while you can still stream it for free.

Alan Raises The Dead

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things follows an egocentric theater director named Alan who has talked his theater troupe into taking a boat to a small island for an occult ritual. On the island is a cemetery that Alan says is a place where the criminally insane were buried. After the group digs up one of the bodies, a now black-robed Alan reads from an ancient grimoire an incantation that he says will bring the freshly exhumed corpse back to life.

In classic horror film fashion, the spell that Alan casts works all too well. After first believing that nothing happened, the group retreated to a cabin on the island to spend the night. But before they can fully settle in, the earth in the cemetery begins to stir as dozens of the dead rise from their graves and prove that Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things.

Impressive Work With Such A Low Budget

I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of zombie films, many of them with acting, sets, and special effects that far outshine anything that Clark was able to do with Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. However, considering the entire production budget was an estimated $50,000 and Clark used college kids to play most of the roles, the film itself is praiseworthy of the innovations and effort that Clark was able to accomplish with a shoestring budget.

A Pioneer In The Genre That Gave Us Classics Like Evil Dead

bruce campbell

And while the acting in Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is reminiscent of what you might experience at a small-town high school play, it suits the sort of low-budget horror production in a way that’s almost endearing. The storyline of kids trying to raise the dead was among the first of its kind, making the film a bit of a pioneer.

One Of The First To Copy George Romero’s Style

Clark was one of the first directors in the U.S. to directly copy the style of zombies that George Romero used several years before in his 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead. While Romero’s creatures were fresh corpses that come to life compared to the age-old resurrected ones we see in Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, the slow and lumbering movements of the creatures are the same. This adds an element of horror that is almost palpable, as the characters are slowly pursued and picked off (and apart) as they try to find a way to escape the island.

Stream Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things For Free


The tension that emanates from Alan as he emotionally and psychologically abuses his crew pairs well with the slow build of terror that you’ll feel in Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. The film is a slow burn that is well worth the wait.

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things has certainly grown to be a cult classic on its own merits, though nowhere to the extent of any Romero or Fulci entry into the zombie horror genre. But those who watch the film will see how later filmmakers would copy some of what Clark was able to accomplish with a movie that still stands as one of my favorite horror films from the era.

You can stream Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things on Pluto.