Friday, June 4, 2010

Film #27: Village of the Damned (1960)

A pregnancy epidemic is sweeping the RDHP’s age-group, and we are doing whatever it takes ensure our homes remain “diaper free.”
-We’ve bought shotguns, practiced shooting neighborhood finches, and spread Avian Flu spores on our rooftops – just in case that bastard Stork decides to pay a visit.
-On our TV sets, we’ve set the “parental controls” to blackout any images of cooing, crawling and other “cute” baby moves – lest the wives catch a glimpse and get any ideas.
-Finally, once a week, just as Molly and Mel begin to peacefully fall asleep, they get an “accidental” punch in the stomach.
You know, just to be sure.

So you can imagine our horror when this week’s movie, “Village of the Damned,” divulged a huge hole in our baby blockade. The biggest threat to our childless bliss is not the aforementioned terrestrial matters, but actually space aliens!

The women of English village Midwich are a bunch of intergalactic hussies. One day without warning, the entire town experiences a blackout ala “Flash-forward.” After a period of hours, the townsfolk awaken with little memory of the incident… only the women don’t just wake up, they get knocked up! Hmmm, a mass blackout… waking up pregnant… who does this remind me of?

Soon every woman of child-bearing age in Midwich – even the virgins – discover they are pregnant, and trace the babies’ conception back to the day of the town-wide blackout. The men folk in town don’t like this one bit: “Who’s Your Daddy!” they scream into their wives bellies.

The mystery can be solved in only two ways. Either Ben Roethlisberger used his huge stash of GHB to poison the town’s water supply before going on another rape rampage…. OR … space aliens from outer space directed some sort of advanced sex machine at the whittle town and forgot to wear their space suits during the fun. Oops! That’ll be one hell of a child support payment!

The scientists in nearby London suspect the later scenario, especially after all the babies begin to grow at twice the normal rate, sport matching Aryan/Alien race features, and possess magical mind manipulation powers.

But these blondes just aren’t beautiful, they’re smart too! So smart even the elders begin to get suspicious. Just what are these half-alien/half-Hitler-dream-children up to? These kids just can’t be trusted, especially when they realize they can make adults they don’t like kill themselves with just the blink of their hypnotic eyes.

The townsfolk soon realize these evil kill-dren need to be stopped before it’s too late. But how can you destroy something that just soooooo cutttttte, yes they are, yes they are, awwwww, whittle cuttties?

It is a creepy kid cavalcade in the 1960s birth-control feature “Village of the Damned.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 4.0
Chris Dimick coos:
“Village of the Damned summed up what I’ve been screaming through the streets of adulthood ever since my first friend announced they were procreating. “You will bring them into this world, but they will take you out of it!”

Don’t get me wrong. I love babies. My god, sometimes while walking down the street I see little babies so cute that all I can do to keep from going insane with delight is to rip my arms off and use them to bludgeon my face in.
But cute babies grow up into disgusting children. Children who throw screaming temper tantrums in malls when you refuse to spend your last wood nickels on a pointless toy. Children who take everything from you --- time, money, strength -- and give you what in return? Love. Phhhhhhhhhhhf! I got plenty of that already, baby.

Basically, things start to go downhill when those babies start walkin’, talking, and bitchin’.
But worst of all, those babies can grow up to kill their makers!

There is a reason so many horror movies feature children. Village of the Damned taps into that fear all parents and non-parents alike share – no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, you are not in complete control of your children.
If organized, they can rise up against you, even kill you, and your last dying thought will be “what did I do wrong?”

When one expects something to be pure and innocent, it is unnerving when it turns into a corrupted, evil presence. Everyone wants the best for their children… after all, they are a reflection of themselves. But when kids are born bad, even in the movies… that can be the deepest horror of them all.

I’ve said it before: children are creepy. But British children! Now that is a group that will scare one’s pants on – permanently. Maybe it is the accent, the taught lower lip, or the Brits way of saying things without expression, but when a British child wants to scare ya, they usually succeed. The kids in this movie were brilliant. Silent, emotionless, and scheming. Never mind the fact that this flick had the Macaulay Culkin of the 1960s horror scene – Martin Stephens, who we last saw in The Innocents. One look from that kid is all it takes to melt any baby-affection.

This movie just had a great spooky element to it rarely achieved in other horror-child films. It was a simple story, but sometimes simple is good. There was no overarching moral, heavy action scenes, or deep emotions portrayed. Just a freaky tale meant to make you think twice next time you run into an albino toddler.

Despite my earlier writings, I really don’t think children are all bad. I do think it would be fun to take on life’s ultimate craft project -- one day. Watch the little tyke grow, dress him/her in Cubs gear, walk through a pumpkin patch one Halloween with their tiny hand inside mine.
But then I think of them as a teenager, refusing to come home at their midnight curfew so they can go snort meth behind the high school. Or take olde Lizzy Borden. Talk about a problem child.
I guess like anything worth doing, child-raising isn’t easy. Nor should it be, given what is on the line.

For now I’ll stay neutral in the baby battles, and heed the warnings of Village of the Damned.
To all my friends and family expecting children soon, I sincerely am happy for you and offer you the following assurances:
'Congratulations…. And beware!'"

N-Rating: 3.3
Nick Rich coos:
"There is just something so quaint about England. Maybe it's all of the lush green landscapes, or the gentle towns that sneak up on you out of nowhere... or possibly the fiendish alien children bent on world domination... yes, there's just something about England.

As you may or may not be able to infer from its title, Village of the Damned had all of these magical attributes and more (sort 0f)! Granted the landscapes weren't in the strictest sense green (as this was a black and white film), the town of Midwich ended up being quite a stressful place to reside (that is if you consider murderous offspring and roving mobs stressful), and the children lolly-gagged most of the film (you know, waiting to be born and learning to walk and all). Throw in a dash of residual WWII culture and you got yourself a stew!

In its execution Village was extremely solid! On more than one occasion I found myself enjoying the deft craftsmanship employed in the making of this film. There were many a shot where I was impressed by the uniqueness therein (the exploration of the unconscious town was especially effective and chilling in crisp shades of gray), which seemed all the more impressive because they were nestled around a seemingly by the numbers film. The more I watch older films the more I find myself in awe of how on their game they were back in the day. Sure things were a bit more linear and didn't go too crazy in the way of storytelling (usually)... but I think they more than demonstrated that having a plan and executing it well (even if it's not flashy) can still bring you out ahead in the end.

And that's how I felt about Village... while it may not have blow my socks off, it definitely tugged them down a bit. I was content to sit back and soak up the Britishness seeping off the screen watch all the while enjoying a properly woven tale. I say my good man, what more can one really ask for? Quite? Quite.

The Skinny:
Check this flick out if you've just received the news (and it's devastating) that you are sterile... or if you're in the mood for a bit of the Queen's English."

Quote of the Viewing:
[An invisible force field surrounds the town of Midwich, causing both man and animal to blackout. A cow is shown passed-out on the ground, then slowly rising to its feet in a daze.]
Nick: “Do you know what’s happening here, Chris?”
Chris: “No, what?”
Nick: “Something utter-worldly!”

Things We Learned from Village of the Damned:
-Cows can issue a pissed-off moo.
-Abstinence doesn’t work in Britain.
-Always keep your guns and knives next to your liquor.
-British accents are soothing.
-Whether a boy or girl, British babies all wear dresses.
-Britishness enhances creepiness.
-Angry children will kill you.
-Russians are heartless bastards who kill their own children.
-Mind control sounds like the collective “weeeeee.”
-To leap forward in science, one must embrace danger.
-Angry mobs always originate in bars:

RDHP Point/Counterpoint
Topic: To breed or not to breed?

Top Five Reasons Children Scare Us
Evil children aside, having kids is a scary thought. Below, five reasons why the RDHP would be just fine with becoming that weirdo old childless couple who drive the country in an RV.

They’re Mini-Mes
As a hybrid of us, they know both our strengths AND weaknesses. Not to mention I remember the terror I was as a child/teen. And I hear you eventually get what you gave. (I love you, Mom and Dad! It’s been 15 years; think you could lift the restraining order for this Christmas?)

We’ve heard the horror stories. Crap flowing out of diapers, all the way up to a kid’s hair? Really? No… really? PASS!

Public School
Even if you do manage to turn out a decent child, then you have to let them go into the world of public school each day. Do you remember what those days were like? The type of people that go there? We don’t think we could go a whole day without worrying that Little Nicholas didn’t get shivved in the lunch room.

Pregnancy and Child-Birth
It is like something out of a Cronenberg horror movie, really. An ever growing humanoid is implanted inside a woman’s stomach until it violently explodes out her private parts in a bloody mess. WTF?! How do women do this? (Ladies, we have the utmost respect for you. You are hard-asses.)

I can picture it now. “Oh geez, you know, I would love to sit with you in the first row behind Wrigley’s home plate for Game 7 of the World Series, but Little Johnny just swallowed his Tonka truck wheel and it’ll be at least four hours before we leave the ER.”

Top Five Reasons Children Intrique Us
Still, there is a side to us that feels starting a family could be quite swell. Below, five reasons why we smile when we see a daughter holding her father's hand.

They're Mini-Mes
Conversely, it would be interesting to raise a little hybrid of you and your mate in your image. Pass down your morals, values and wisdom... maybe even your interests. Watch them mimic you as they grow, see your wife's face in theirs. Create a family.

Childhood Redux
If you have a kid, you can rightfully do all those kid things again, under the guise of doing it with them. Play cars on the hardwood floor, head to the zoo, break out the board games, take swings in the batting cages, and hit up mister Chuck E. Cheese for a redo on the mole game. It's okay, Junior is with you!

Fish Sticks and Mac and Cheese
What happened to these delicious morsels? Why once we stopped being a kid did these wondrous food items disappear from the menu. Have a kid, and all of a sudden the "gross" (i.e. delicious) food of the past is back on your dinner plate once again.

Holidays with the Kiddies
How fun would it be to take your child trick-or-treating? To see them pick out and proudly display their Halloween costume. To dye Easter eggs again or hear them yell thanks to Santa for the presents. Pretty damn fun we think.

Game of Catch
It is a cliché, I know that. But every time I think about throwing a baseball with a son or daughter, it really gets me. Throw in a thought about my kids first game at Wrigley Field, and it's Niagara Falls on my face.

Their Size
So, like most other humans (I presume) I am fascinated with tiny versions of things: mini-cheeseburgers, mirco-machines, mini-landscapes and the like... but when it comes to the mini-ness that babies have... I can't take it!!!!

RDHP Presents:
Excuses Heard in Midwich
for Mysterious Pregnancy

Even self-proclaimed teenage virgins ended up “with child” after the great blackout rocked the town of Midwich in this film. Then there was the unpleasantness of the husband returning home from a long trip to find his wife preggers. Here are just a few excuses heard around Midwich after the entire town woke up packing baby heat:

“I’m not pregnant, I just sat on a watermelon. Doctors remove it on Wednesday!”

“Pot bellies are all the rage in Bangkok, so I decided to get some stomach implants.”

“You think I’m pregnant!? How dare you! Oh, so you think I’m fat. I’ve been really stressed lately and chocolate is the only thing that will keep me company… no thanks to you! Why won’t you spend any time with me? I was talking to your mother and she…”

“This is a costume. I’m going as the Octomom for Halloween.”

“It was like that when I got here.”

“Cheating? No, relax, I’m just dying! This is a giant tumor!”

“Oh Muhammad, you and your conspiracy theories. I know our daughter has blonde hair, blue eyes, and white skin, but she totally has your nose!”

“Pregnant? No, I’m just big boned.”

“Mom, I swear, this is Jenny’s baby. I’m just holding on to it for her.”


  1. Have you seen the mid-90's remake with Christopher Reeve and Kristi Allie? After reading this it seems that the remake was suprisingly close to the 50's version. Except in the new movie that butthole Christopher Reeve gets drunk and fights himself in a junkyard.

  2. Hahaha, nothing worse than a drunk fighting himself in a junkyard. I'd say that is quite a "disgusting sight"!
    Never seen the remake of this, though didn't John Carpenter make it!?
    I'm interested to see if it holds the same "creepy" factor, though with Carpenter behind the helm I'm sure it has a good shot.