This was always one of those films I told myself I'd get around to watching someday. I'm sure we've all got extensive lists of those, and this was fairly high on mine. I love the premise, namely a hippy theatre troupe dig up a corpse, have a high old time screwing around with it, perform some satanic rituals and then the undead rise to take revenge upon them. End credits. Simple enough.
Actually there's more going on there but to be honest if I hadn't been flicking through my copy of the BOOK OF THE DEAD history of zombie cinema I would have completely missed the whole thing about the film being an attack on the hypocrisy and rotten core of the hippy culture at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s.
I just thought it was a cheap zombie movie with some comedy elements. However, upon watching it following on from reading about it, I appreciated it much more than I would have done otherwise. It's a lot of fun, if slow starting, but once the festivities kick in with an army of corpses attacking the vile main characters, the film all falls into place.
As soon as the gang digs up the aforementioned cadaver, things take a macabre turn and the tone of the film starts to shift from comedy to something more uneasy, before the final act turns it into a full-on horror movie. The zombie effects are cheap but pretty effective, but it's the exemplary score which adds a demented quality to the film – cold, jarring synths and effects warring for supremacy as hippies are massacred.
The film feels a little padded out, even at its brief 82 minutes (about ten minutes of which are just credits), but the idea works well and there's enough going on to hold the interest until the rather sudden ending (an ending which Lucio Fulci would inadvertently echo with ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS). CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS is a nice little Grindhouse flick, cheap, atmospheric and often straddling the lines between good and bad as well as comedy and horror.