|Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things|
|Riffed by||Ghosts On The Big Brown Couch|
|Riffers||Timothy Tompkins, Charlene Cavalcante, Dori Fleischmann, Catherine Wacha|
|Date Released||December 17, 2013|
1973's Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things is a case of filmmakers who would soon go onto bigger and better things. Co-Screenwriter Alan Ormsby would someday work on projects as skillful and varied as Popcorn, the remake of Cat People, and Disney's Mulan. Writer/Director Bob Clark would go on to make hit films Black Christmas, Porky's, and the classic A Christmas Story.
But before those, there was... this. Not a completely awful film (it at least has the distinction of being the first American cannibal zombie film shot in color, building upon the work of Night of the Living Dead's George A. Romero), but it certainly is a film filled with awful, awful people. The worst of these is Alan Ormsby himself. That is to say, he probably isn't an awful person in real life, but in the film he's an incredible tool, playing a guy named... Alan (a lot of the actors in the film play characters named after themselves, which somehow makes their annoying performances feel so much worse).
The plot is basic: A bunch of actors (this is getting way too meta) are trying to set the mood for a play they are rehearsing (a play about which we never learn anything) by going to an island off the coast of Florida and digging up old corpses and playing with them... because that's how acting works, right? Well, with Alan in charge that's the name of the tune, which eventually is bound to turn into a funeral dirge. Long before then, though, the audience will wish that they could strangle the cast themselves. By the time zombies start coming to life (or death, or whatever) and munching on these people, it almost doesn't seem like punishment enough.
Johnny finally works up the courage to open the front door of the apartment, concluding action that has been building up since Episode 4, Count Dracula and His Vampire Brides. Johnny thinks a police officer awaits, wanting to report a complaint about the violent scuffle between Dori and Becky which shattered the window in the living room. Since no one except Johnny can see the ghosts, though, Johnny is bound to take the blame.
As it turns out, however, the person at the door is not a New York police officer; it is a sneaky Ghost Hunter who has long been wanting to investigate reports of strange happenings within that apartment. Johnny is prepared to give him the brush-off, but a michievous Dori ensures that he gets inside, hoping to toy with the poor sucker.
As the agent of F.A.P.S. (First American Paranormal Society) goes about the business of running tests for paranormal activity (with Johnny's reluctant permission), the usual group gets together to watch 1973's Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things. Eventually Johnny takes a break to send Becky off to provide some basic (invisible) evidence of supernatural happenings so that maybe the Ghost Hunter will leave. She soon returns, however, annoyed that anything she did to impress the guy he instead rejected as cheap trickery cooked up by Johnny.
After the film concludes, the Ghost Hunter announces that he will soon return to the apartment with a full team of investigators. Johnny objects, but the Hunter threatens him, saying that he has enough evidence to make the apartment a world famous curiosity spot, making Johnny's life a living hell if he doesn't cooperate. Moreover, the Hunter intends to sweep the apartment and "cleanse" it of paranormal activity, because it is his opinion that all ghosts are evil.
At this point Dori has had enough. She possesses Johnny (something which we had not previously known the ghosts could do), and uses him to whack the Ghost Hunter over the head with a frying pan. When the Ghost Hunter regains consciousness (in the elevator, just as it reaches the downstairs lobby) several minutes later, he finds that "Johnny" has also stolen the videotape out of his camcorder. When he discovers that his digital audio evidence has also been compromised (in this case, completely through his own incompetence), he lets out an echoing bellow of rage that can be heard for blocks away.
Meanwhile in the apartment, Johnny is once again himself, and not at all pleased at having his body taken over. Dori tells him to chill out, but Babs insists that she promise to never possess him again. Johnny is willing to compromise, saying that in the case of an emergency they can probably make an exception. As it turns out, though, Dori's definition of "emergency" is very different from Johnny's. She's in the mood for Chinese food, and when Johnny, who has all the money, says no...
Notes EditScott Zee, actor and voiceover talent, and riffer from The Turkey Shoot with Scott Zee, finally gets through the front door and makes a full guest appearance (having first knocked on that door as the cliffhanger to Episode 4, Count Dracula and His Vampire Brides, and then patiently stood outside throughout the action of Episode 5, The Naked Witch. He gives an excellent performance as the Ghost Hunter, a somewhat clueless (if ruthless) gentleman who isn't even aware that the name of his organization if fairly embarrassing.
The animation for Episode 6 required a bit of creativity for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the animation character set used for episodes of Ghosts On The Big Brown Couch (all animation for the show comes from http://goanimate.com/) does not allow for violent actions (while there are some sets that do have more "slapsticky" actions, their humanoid forms are not nearly as detailed or realistic, which is why Writer/Director Timothy Tompkins had to reject their use for the show). Because of this, a lot of work has to be put into "faking" scenes such as the frying pan smacking the Ghost Hunter on the head (or the flyswatter attack on Johnny from Episode 1, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf).
Secondly, it is the art style of all GoAnimate characters that they never turn around to face away from the "camera"; they are always facing forward. So for the scene in which there is the surprise reveal that Johnny has been possessed by Dori, it was necessary for Timothy (who is not artistically gifted) to "draw" a version of Johnny facing away from the viewer. While the results were pretty rough, they were sufficient for the two or three seconds for which the figure had to be onscreen before he turned around for the reveal.