Village of the Damned (1960)

village of the damned 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: The eyes have it.

Remade in 1995 and based on the John Wyndham novel ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’ the story centers on a small English village where one day everyone mysteriously falls asleep for several hours while under the spell of some invisible, odorless gas. When they awaken everything seems normal, but later on all the women become pregnant, even those that were not married or were still virgins. When the babies are born they are found to be different from their human counterparts as they have a higher intelligence, odd shaped heads and bright blonde hair. Later on these same children gain the ability to read other people’s minds and dispose of those that they don’t like penetrating them with the spell of their glowing eyes. As the rest of the village panics one man (George Sanders) feels that he may have the ability to stop them, but only if he can somehow control his own thoughts, so they won’t be able to tell what he is actually up to.

As a sci-fi thriller it’s not bad. The film’s short running time has a nice compact style to it with a story that evolves at a fast pace and continues to add new twists. The special effects for its day are realistic enough to be passable and the violence is surprisingly high. Sanders is effective in the lead and Martin Stephens as the leader of the children is quite creepy.

I found it a bit baffling though that the townspeople wouldn’t have quarantined the strange children from the start as it becomes quite obvious from the beginning that they aren’t normal. Instead they are allowed to roam freely even as they become increasingly more sinister. I would’ve also have thought that some of the mothers who gave birth to these strange beings would’ve disowned them and even refused to take care of them once their unnatural and frightening oddities became apparent.

The ending is frustrating as the film does not supply any answer as to who these kids where and what type of alien presence impregnated the women and why. The movie tells us that other places have been effected with these strange children as well, which leads one to believe that this is only a part of some other more sinister plot with far reaching consequences that never gets tackled. Instead we get left with a short film that acts like a small chapter to a fascinating idea with broad potential variables that unfortunately never gets followed through on.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: July 5, 1960

Runtime: 1Hour 17Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Wolf Rilla

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

4 responses to “Village of the Damned (1960)

  1. I Too Thought A Mother Or Two Would Have Taken Off. However, Remember The Time Period. Must Be Why They Also Never Discussed Termination Of Obviously Inhuman Fetuses Either.

  2. I agree with you about the “frustrating” ending. The film could have been a pilot for a TV series.

    Given their special powers, I think it would be difficult to quarantine them. It is also unlikely the mothers would want to give up their children until they have committed a crime.

    I wrote a short essay on Village of the Damned called “Demon-Human Hybrids.” If you would like to read it, feel free to post any feedback: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/village-of-the-damned/

  3. Joseph Kearny

    Small, imaginative SciFi classic.

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