Village of the Damned (1995)
Director: John Carpenter
Christopher Reeve/ Alan
When a blackout falls upon a small town, ten women wake up pregnant (even though one of the girls is a virgin). All ten chicks give birth to their children (minus one, it’s still-born) and the brats grow up to sport blonde hair, showcase mind controlling gifts and gnarly glowing eyes. Let the fun begin?
Next to Dario Argento and David Lynch, John Carpenter is my favorite horror director. I’ve never hated a John Carpenter flick and "Village Of The Damned" is no exception. But I will admit that this remake (based on the 1960 film of the same name) is one of his lesser works.
My main problem with the film is definitely its script. It starts off properly with a spooky set up (the blackout and the pregnancies) but then instead of capitalizing on the psychological tension that could’ve been present in respect to the situation, it goes for cheap thrills. Will a parent stand by his child whatever his actions may be? Is individuality the source of humanity? The movie only glazes over these questions never really getting into them. It’s way more interested in showing innocent folks offing themselves, impaling themselves or cars blowing up.
Solely scratching the surface isn’t this script’s only problem. It also half-asses a lot of its subplots and makes very silly decisions. For example, why do the kids respect the Reeve's character? We never see him do anything to earn that respect. Or who’s the genius that put a propane tank at the end of that damn road? Real smart. Or what ever happened to that whole “the city will get bombed” thang? If you’re going to slap in a heavy plot twist like that, you better address it later on or at least use it as a “tension” device. And last but not least, why the hell wasn’t Meredith Salenger’s character taken full circle? I was very interested in her plight but in the end, they just let her drop like unwanted baggage.
Yes, this is a stupid film, which brings me to why I still somewhat enjoyed it. I think “guilty pleasure” is the term. How the hell can you go wrong with watching 9 little runts all dressed in the same retro-like clothes, walking in unison and using their glowing eyes to make people harm themselves? You can’t! How can you go wrong with the army and the police being mind controlled into annihilating each other with firearms in a sea of explosions and bullets? You just can’t! Granted the mayhem does become a tad redundant after a while (adults piss kids off, kids glow their eyes, and adults die), but that doesn’t mean that it’s not enjoyable to watch.
"Village Of The Damned" makes up for its lazy, dumbass script with a kool initial premise, slick scenes involving mass murder, kids walking or turning their heads at the same time, slick visual effects (yes, I loved the glowing eyes), a fast pace and a good performance by Christopher Reeve. Instead of exploring its themes fully, it gives us an hour and a half of harmless cinematic candy to suck on. No more...no less. Now look into my eyes, can you see them glowing? Yes? Good. Read the rest of this review NOW!
The more memorable gore scenes would have to be a dude frying on a BBQ, a man impaling himself with a broom, a woman burning alive, someone cutting themselves open with a scalpel and gunshot wounds. Not overly gory, but violent enough.
Christopher Reeve (Alan) shows a lot of range here and nails the part. Kirstie Alley (Susan) relies on cigarettes to act; she smokes in every damn scene! That’s pretty much all she delivers. What was her part’s purpose again? Linda Kowsloski (Jill) brought enough depth to her character for me to care. She’s solid here and made me forget her "Crocodile Dundee" days. Michael Pare (Frank) is a very charismatic actor and he shines within the time that he’s given. Meredith Salenger (Melanie) does a lot of crying and that’s pretty much that. Too bad her character wasn’t explored more. Mark Hamill (Rev George) does ok as the Reverend but he chews too hard on one hunk of scenery (“don’t you feel!!!”). Easy tiger…easy. Lindsey Haun (Mara) has the look for the part and handles her “serious” dialogue very well. Thomas Decker (David) impressed me with his subtle way of communicating emotions. Nice work young man.
T & A
I guess it's ladies night tonight because they get both Christopher Reeve and Michael Pare shirtless. We get jack all.
The opening aerial shot is pure Carpenter. The black out scene and what precedes it also comes through. But after that, I couldn’t feel Carpenter’s trademark style for most of the film. It started looking flat, almost like a TV movie. Only on occasion would Carpenter’s directorial touch shine through (mostly the shots involving the children). Did Carpenter direct the whole film?
The score by Carpenter and Dave Davies is uneven. Only at times does Carpenter’s brilliance resonate.
As a regular “horror” movie, this flick entertained my pointy ass on a dumb cheese level. As a Carpenter genre effort, it was pretty disappointing. This “kids on a rampage” tale with a sci-fi twist is perfect fodder for that lazy Wednesday night where you’d rather crash and watch a dumb movie then crash and watch a smart one. Just shift your brain on “off” before viewing it.
The film is based on the book “The Midwich Cuckoos” by John Wyndham. It’s also based on the 1960 movie “Village Of The Damned”.