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Village of the Damned

77 minutes
horror, sci-fi

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

The 'creepy voice' effect, according to the film historian who did the commentary, was done simply by having the child actor record his lines again, and dub them over his original voice.

The film script was written simultaneously with the original novel, but production was put on hold when new studio management worried the film would be seen as anti-Catholic. Later, to recoup their investment, the studio sent the script to its UK subsidiary where it could be produced at a lower budget, which forced a rewrite to make the script 'British' again.

Even when the movie was completed and sent to theaters, the studio hesitated to schedule a release. It was an accident when one theater put on the movie to fill a gap. Fortunately, it proved to be popular!

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This entry created 14 September 2021. Last revised on 14 September 2021.

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Village of the Damned

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star no star no star (8.40)

John Wyndham (a pseudonym) was an English science-fiction writer, best known for Day of the Triffids. He also wrote The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), which in 1960 inspired Village of the Damned (and its many sequels and remakes).

Gordon Zellaby (played by George Sanders) is a professor living in the village of Midwich; he married late in life to Anthea (Barbara Shelley), whose brother works at the highest levels of the military.

While using the telephone one day, Gordon slumps to the floor. Indeed, we soon realize that everyone within five miles of Midwich has been stricken. Then, after a few hours, everything returns to normal. The military asks Gordon to be their eyes and ears in Midwich, to watch for anything else unusual.

A few months later, every woman of child-bearing age in Midwich is pregnant. The pregnancies seem normal, except that the fetuses are maturing at an accelerated pace. Gordon and Anthea soon welcome their first child, which they name David. Like the other dozen or so babies just born, he has striking blonde hair and strange eyes.

Gordon observes that what one child learns, they all learn. They exhibit heightened intelligence and a lack of emotion. And when their eyes glow, they can exert control over other people.

From the government, Gordon learns that the Midwich children are not unique – there were four other incidents globally. The military wants to lock the children up, but Gordon thinks they could be the future of mankind – he persuades the government to place all the children in a home, with him as their instructor. Meanwhile, the people of the village are increasingly disturbed by the actions of the children…

The acting is solid in this one – George Sanders brings a sober intensity to his role. Martin Stephens is creepy as Gordon's son David (I think the weird voice was dubbed); he was actually one of the most popular child actors in England at the time. Barbara Shelley is another solid performer, and achingly beautiful. There's also a variety of supporting actors doing quite well as government officials, a doctor and a vicar, and ordinary villagers.

The special effects are limited but effective. The 'glowing eyes' special effect was only seen abroad; English censors wouldn't allow it.

The film is short by today's standards, moves briskly along, and keeps tension levels high.

Can you game it? When a mob approaches the children, they easily use their mental powers to defend themselves. However, they realize they are vulnerable to ranged weapons. It does not seem like something you could turn into a scenario.

Recommended. Enjoyable and suspenseful.