Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Village of the Damned (1960)

In this 60s classic, a small town awakens from a temporary blackout to find that twelve of the local women have had immaculate conceptions. The children that are born as a result share a hive mind, psycho-kinetic abilities, and a superior intelligence which threatens both the village and the world! Though the plot and tone of the picture are a bit over the top, it is easier to accept this version (as opposed to Carpenter's later remake) and suspend disbelief when the acting is played up to theatrics and the film is set to thick British accents. The troop of blond children are each very off-setting in their strict conformity, unnaturally mature demeanor, and entrancing stares. The audience is given several proposals as to what the cause of the births may have been, whether they were attributed to radio waves from outer space, genetic mutation, or parasitic organisms, but that interpretation is left entirely to the viewer. The story is also filled with underlying social and political commentary, including themes of nuclear fallout, Socialism, ethnic cleansing, and mutation that all are present in some form of subtext. It also skirts several societal taboos of child murder and abortion. In these ways, the film and the novel it was adapted from serve as a dark allegory of social fears following WWII as told through the safety of a Horror tale. Though the film is very fast-paced, there are several abrupt edits and scenes that do not receive the attention they deserved, scenes that Carpenter would later reproach in the remake. In all other aspects, it is cleanly shot, the acting is top-notch and memorable, it uses smart and disturbing cutaways during the more violent moments, and it also includes visual symbolism in the final scene that uses subtle but clever techniques. By all definitions a classic that modern film fans can still appreciate.

Rating: 9/10.
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3 comments:

  1. One of my favs - watch it every year!!

    Cheers!

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  2. good stuff - the sequel CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED kinda irritates me, though. It goes waaay off-topic and feels more like an episode of 'The Outer Limits' or some hokum like that. I've never, ever gotten around to Carpenter's version. I mean to rectify that.

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  3. Right there with you, review to follow! Carpenters is worth seeing, and while the children are still pretty creepy, overall it feels too 90s and is played too straight to really wow anyone

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