Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (Bob Clark / U.S., 1973):

Scooby Doo gets the analysis it deserves: "Jaded young deviants, that’s us." In Bob Clark’s spoof of independent filmmaking, the artiste is a perverse despot (Alan Ormsby), chin-whiskered and striped-pantsed, who treats his troupe to a merry night of blasphemy. A cemetery island serves the crypt-defilers just fine, the ninny with illusions of grandeur duels with a smartass sorceress (Valerie Mamches) over grave-rising incantations; the monster mash that eventually ensues is the natural comeuppance to a necromantic jest taken too far. Ed Wood and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein are the main tributaries, Clark accordingly avails himself of the best abysmal wisecracks, offhand surrealism, and decomposing mise-en-scène available. The most affable characters are the saucer-eyed ingénue (Anya Ormsby) who brings a fine stoned gravity to the smarmy vaudeville, and the exhumed stiff (Seth Sklarey) who endures the indignities in a tattered tuxedo until it’s time to join the undead feast. "That makes him a ghoul? Boy, that’s typecasting." Grubby, but it works. The "not-so-holy-but-it’s-okay" wedlock between husband and zombie adduces an unexpected note from Viridiana, the barrage of horrid morbid puns is worth it for the moment when the munching zombies pause to give the auteur the stink eye for tossing in his leading lady to save his own skin. With Jeff Gillen, Paul Cronin, Jane Daly, Roy Engleman, and Robert Philip.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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