Last night, as per our annual Halloween scary movie schedule, the family watched Village of the Damned (1960). This is a British film, produced by MGM-UK, and I’ve always had something of a fascination for it. When I was seven or eight, an issue of Starlog magazine I had acquired had a retrospective feature on this movie, and the pictures of the kids with glowing eyes freaked me out. I instantly wanted to see the movie, but didn’t get the chance until I was a teenager. I thought it was great at the time. Let’s see how it holds up!
VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED
The movie is set in a village in southeast England where one strange day in the late 1950s, everybody falls asleep. The British army moves in to investigate, and finds drawing too near the town causes any intruder to fall asleep as well. A few hours later, everybody wakes up, and so far as anybody can tell nothing is any different, except for one thing: all the women in town of child-bearing age are pregnant.
They give birth five months later (!) to a dozen children. The babies develop rapidly and without any of the normal childhood sicknesses. These children stick together and when one learns something, the others learn it as well, without needing to speak to one another. As they grow, they develop powers to read others’ minds, and to control others as well. Using their mind power causes that freaky eye glow that so disturbed me as a youngster.
I don’t want to ruin anything by saying too much more about the plot. Let’s run it through the rubric.
Story/Plot/Characters–Acting is great, pacing is perfect, story is compelling. (4 points)
Special Effects–Already this movie challenges my system a bit, for there are few special effects. I can’t count that against the movie, simply because it chose not to use them, can I? The trick with the children’s glowing eyes is effective. On the other hand, there is a scene where a house catches on fire that is clearly a model, and also, cars do not explode simply because they hit a brick wall. (1 point)
Scariness–My daughter, 6 years old, says it wasn’t that scary. On the other hand, my son, 10, covered his eyes at a couple points. I found it moderately scary. (1 point)
Atmosphere/Freakiness–This movie is chock full of atmosphere and freakiness. (2 points)