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Village of the Damned
DVD disk
Oct 8, 2004 By: JaneBlo
Village of the Damned order
Director:
Wolf Rilla

Actors:
George Sanders
Barbara Shelley
Michael Gwynn

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Village of the Damned: At exactly 11 oclock one day, people are collapsing in a small English village called Midwich. The reason is a mystery. After a while, they all awake and soon thereafter, many of the towns women are with childbut what kind of child? This 1960 cult classic is now available on DVD with its sequel, Children of the Damned in a horror double feature.

Children of the Damned: In this 1963 sequel to VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, the children are no longer Aryan types, but rather international-- one from every major race of the world (African, Asian, Russian) The governments of the world are after them as these kids are too brainy and too powerful to simply ignore. But in the end, who will win...the children or the army?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Village of the Damned (4 stars): Based on the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, this film starring George Sanders and Barbara Shelley is a sci-fi/horror classic most famous for its eerie children with their glowing eyes, Hitler-youth blond hair and identical black outfits who possess amazing mind control powers. These children are to be feared as their powers are deadly. No one is sure where they came from exactly and the suspenseful mood of the film hung around until the final act, a brilliant ending for this picture. I loved the gothic feel of this film, perfectly filmed in black and white with an appropriately set dark, moody score. The children are amazing, especially their leader David, played by Martin Stephens as I think he may be the eeriest kid in any horror film I have ever seen. Their cold, never-smiling faces and slow movements and proper black outfits are something to behold, a freaky sight indeed. They always know what we are thinking, but we have no idea what they are up to. Good story with an exciting and (having not seen it before) surprising ending.

Children of the Damned (3 stars): There exist many similarities between the two films, but also some important physical differences: the childrens eyes are glowing less than in the original film here, they are also no longer dressed the same or even blond. The other major difference between the two films is that CHILDREN is set in the city, whereas VILLAGE was set in a small country village, both in England. This film has some beautiful shots of some of the characters running through the empty city streets, in search of the children. Very atmospheric and creepy because of the emptiness and silence in the streets. However, I did not enjoy this film as much as I enjoyed its predecessor and I am not sure why. Both films had similar story-lines (children of unknown origin with strange telepathic powers trapped in a hostile adult world), but this film was more politically themed which is not surprising as it was supposed to be a moral fable about the cold war. That may have played a part in me not loving this film as much. The kids were also less eerie looking here-- really enjoyed the look of the kids in the original, that blond country-club/Hitler youth type. Their leader, Paul, did not impact me as much as the leader David in VILLAGE. Also, this film was around 15 minutes longer than the original which caused me to become somewhat bored. A typical sequel, because it is not as good as its original.
THE EXTRAS
Audio Commentary on VILLAGE by Chronicles of Terror: Silent Screams author Steve Haberman: We find out interesting tidbits such as why this film was controversial/anti-Catholic and was originally shelved. Haberman speaks in an even tone, with few pauses. He clarifies many aspects of the film and the commentary is enlightening and fun to listen to.

Audio Commentary on CHILDREN by films screenwriter John Briley: Mr. Briley speaks in a slow, monotonous tone which is irritating and no fun to listen to. He relates way too many stories about his own life, and about the Cold War, and this is boring to hear. Not much additional background on the film is given, a commentary worth ignoring if you ask me. Its worth mentioning that this was Mr. Brileys first original screenplay.

Theatrical trailers. Both films contain very cool trailers for the films, worth checking out.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If sci-fi/horror cult classics are your cup of tea, then not only have you heard about these two films before, but you have most likely enjoyed them as well Well, now one can view them again and again on DVD, forever preserved digitally in all its cinematic brilliance. All in all, both films offer us things we enjoy: entertainment and visual candy mixed with a healthy dose of suspense and evil...children, that is. This double feature will delight anyone who loves the gothic look of old, black and white gothic horror stories.
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