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
Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author. Links to non-KQEK sites have been included for your convenience; KQEK is not responsible for their content nor their possible use of any pop-ups, cookies, or information gathering.