When contact is lost with Midwich, a high-ranking military
man drives to the village to discover what has happened to
his friends the professor and his wife. It seems the entire
population, both humans and animals, have simply passed-out.
No one can enter the outskirts without suffering the same
fate. After several hours the people begin to regain consciousness
with no knowledge of what has taken place. When the professor's
wife learns she is pregnant she is delighted, but then it
is revealed that every woman young enough has conceived. They
all give birth to strange and highly-developed babies. As
young children they are extremely advanced and possess mental
abilities such as mind-reading and compelling individuals
against their will. It seems that colonies of similar children
have been born in other countries, and such were their powers
that the authorities were obliged to destroy entire regions
to wipe them out. Can the professor reach them on a personal
level or will he be forced to take similar action...
of the Damned is based on the excellent Midwich Cuckoos
book by John Wyndham, and is equally entertaining in its interpretation.
George Sanders plays the professor with a calm and methodical
assuredness, and Barbara Shelley avoids the normal penchant
of this time for dramatic and hysterical overacting. There's
a feeling here that every scene is important or even critical
to the whole, and the film succeeds by having the first major
event happen before the titles even appear and then lifting
the closing credits immediately after the climax. In other
words, Village of the Damned starts, tells the story
concisely, and then finishes, with no sign of padding anywhere
in the script. Quite simply it's a masterpiece.
A couple of minor points: Why is the church bell tolling 11:00
am when there's nobody conscious to ring it? And where did
they find such a brilliant dog (played by Bruno!), who made
all the right actions and reactions without looking in any
way excited or directed? I remember reading once somewhere
that there was a curious debate over whether the children's
eyes lit-up when they took over someone's mind (apparently
they do in one version of this film but not in another). Well,
I can tell you that here they shine in all their glory.
a huge fan of John Carpenter's work you might expect me to
say that his remake of Village of the Damned (starring
Christopher Reeve in his last role before his accident) is
everything this original is not. That's not the case. Carpenter's
film was only made because he was offered the money; a purely
business enterprise, which is okay, but you have to wonder
why anyone bothers to remake a classic film when it can only
be worse (Assault on Precinct 13, anyone?).
In Children of the Damned, a series of intelligence
tests carried out on children across the country reveal one
such subject to be outstandingly gifted. When other countries
perform similar tests five more similarly talented children
are revealed. They are brought to London for further study,
but when a government man plans to spirit the English boy
away for experimentation the six children group together in
an abandoned church. Two men arrive to recapture the children
but are attacked with resonating harmonics. The world powers
realise the danger of children who know each other's minds,
and if they can't possess them as a weapon for their respective
countries then they are prepared to destroy them. Then a professor
discovers via a blood sample that the children are human,
perhaps advanced by evolution a million years.
loosely on the situations created for John Wyndham's The
Midwich Cuckoos, comes this original sequel to Village
of the Damned. This time we have a United Nations of representative
children, with Paul, Mi Ling, Nina, Ago, Rashid and Mark harking
from different countries which see the potential for their
use as weapons. It's very much the same idea as Village,
with the youngsters grouping together for strength and support.
However, this time there's little sense of the eeriness and
fear felt by others in their presence. Also, because there
are no UFO
Ed Straker-like silver-blond wigs there's no feeling of the
children being a strange breed of their own.
in itself is an eminently watchable film without a great deal
really happening during its running time, the conclusion reminding
me of many a 1950s B-movie cold war solution of blowing-up
what you don't understand. The first film is the classic,
but it certainly makes sense to package these together. Bizarrely,
the only extra on these discs is a James Dean Collection trailer
(eh?!), but don't let that deter you from buying what amounts
to a fabulous couple of films.
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