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DVD: Village of the Damned (1960)
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1 (NTSC)

August 10, 2004



Genre: Horror  
After a town re-awakens from a sudden mass-coma, doctors discover the women have been impregnated by alien seeds that will spawn freaky-eyed kids with a global control complex.  



Directed by:

Wolf Rilla
Screenplay by: George Barclay,  Stirling Silliphant,  Wolf Rilla
Music by: Ron Goodwin
Produced by: Ronald Kinnoch

George Sanders,  Barbara Shelley,  Michael Gwynn,  Laurence Naismith,  John Phillips,  Richard Vernon,  Jenny Laird,  Richard Warner,  Thomas Heathcote,  Martin Stephens,  Charlotte Mitchell,  Keith Pyott,  John Stuart,  Bernard Archard,  Sheila Robins,  Peter Vaughan,  Tom Bowman,  Susan Richards,  Rosamund Greenwood,  Sarah Long,  Pamela Buck,  Alexander Archdale

Film Length: 77 mins Process/Ratio: 1.85:1
Colour Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages:  English/French Mono
Special Features :  

Audio Commentary by Author Steve Haberman ("Chronicles Of Terror: Silent Screams") / Both "Village Of The Damned" (1960 - 77 min) and "Children Of The Damned" (1963 - 89 min) on one single-sided dual-layer disc / Theatrical trailer for "Village Of The Damned" and "Children Of The Damned"

Comments :

Based on John Wyndham's tale, “The Midwich Cuckoos,” Sterling Silliphant's script lay dormant for several years when MGM felt the project carried a perceived anti-Catholic view during the conservative 50s. When the studio resuscitated the project, director Wolf Rilla and co-writer George Barclay (producer Ronald Kinnoch's pseudonym) tweaked the script, and while certain elements still remained taboo – MGM still didn't want the word “pregnant” uttered – the finished film managed to evade worrisome distributors and sensitive critics, becoming a huge success with audiences.

Still a potent little shocker in spite of its short running time, “Village of the Damned” is also a superb mood piece, with steady direction by B-level director Rilla. Author Steve Haberman gives some concise career portraits of director Rilla, and the film's excellent cast of familiar British character actors, headlined by the inimitable George Sanders, and child actor Martin Stephens (the creepy lad in “The Innocents,” minus peroxide mop). Haberman's comments are bracketed by some obvious gaps, but his track includes some good background info on the locations, special effects, and key differences between Wyndham's novel and the final screenplay.

Warner Bros' transfer is made from a really nice print, and Ron Goodwin's restrained, yet atmospheric soundtrack comes through eerily in the film's original mono mix.

In spite of being remade in 1995 by John Carpenter (with an opening that closely parallels Rilla's deliberately paced montage), the 1960 version still makes the skin crawl. Best to watch late at night with a big bowl of popcorn on a really big screen.

© 2004 Mark R. Hasan

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