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Horror Double Feature: Village of the Damned / Children of the Damned
 

UK 1960 / 1964

This moody little sci-fi classic has it all over the competition when it comes to possessed tykes with telekinetic powers. Midwich's mysteriously hatched brood bores into the subconscious both with their eyes and with their creepy Hitler Youth-like presence. Based on John Wyndham's 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos, and starring George Sanders as the most skeptical of the "miracle" parents, Village gets off to a rousing start when the isolated town of Midwich is cordoned off after some invisible knockout gas descends from above. A few weeks later, every female of childbearing age is pregnant. Much anger and consternation ensue, especially in those families for which the blessed event isn't a blessing.

Nine months later: a town full of blue-eyed, golden-haired cherubs with telekinetic and telepathic powers. The kids mature at an alarming rate and travel the streets in packs. Anyone who looks at them sideways meets with a violent accident. Barbara Shelley, Sanders's wife, is scolded by her child; a motorist who is deemed a threat winds up driving into a wall.

The film is especially refreshing in these days of computer- generated visual effects. Director Wolf Rilla, working from a script cowritten by Stirling Silliphant, generates unease the old-fashioned way: through clammy atmosphere and character development. The opening sequence, in which the military attempts to figure out the extent of the Midwich epidemic, is especially unsettling.

***

A fairly intriguing and atmospheric exercise in science fiction, made as a sequel to Village of the Damned (an adaptation of John Wyndham's novel The Midwich Cuckoos). About a race of superchildren who (in the eyes of the authorities, at any rate) threaten to take over the world, it has some good moments, though its surreal beginning promises a generation war of apocalyptic dimensions that is never delivered, and the film finally falls into some unconvincing liberal moralising (one of the persisting curses of SF in the cinema).

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

Posters

Television Premiere: December 7th, 1960 / January 29th, 1964

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

Runtime 1:17:12 / 1:29:18
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.60 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Village of the Damned

Bitrate: Children of the Damned

Audio Dolby Digital 1.0 (English), DUB: Dolby Digital 1.0 (French)
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratios: - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
Audio Commentaries:
 Village of the Damned commentary by Chronicles of Terror: Silent Screams Author Steve Haberman

 Children of the Damned commentary by Screenwriter John Briley

 Trailer (Village of the Damned - 2:01)

 Trailer (Children of the Damned - 2:21)

DVD Release Date: August 10th, 2004
Keep Case

Chapters 10

 

 

 

Comments

Back in April of this year when I reviewed John Carpenter's Village of the Damned Blu-ray it reminded me of the 1960 classic and realized that I had on my shelf Warner's ''Horror Double Feature' DVD with both the original and sequel, 1964's Children of the Damned., that we had note reviewed it - and that both films had a commentary included!

Both films share one dual-layered DVD disc - progressively transferred in the bastardized 1.78:1 aspect ratio (in the credits Children of the Damned is in 1.66:1, although the trailer is 1.78:1.) Both are cited on IMDb as being 1.85:1. They look fabulous for SD - Village maybe a shade superior to Children with good contrast and occasional depth. There is no damage and the black and white presentations are consistent and pleasing. 

The lossy Dolby sound is decent supporting the score for both films by Ron Goodwin (Hitchcock's Frenzy, The Day of the Triffids, Operation Crossbow). And both have an optional audio commentary and trailer as supplements. The Village of the Damned commentary is by Chronicles of Terror: Silent Screams author Steve Haberman and Children of the Damned by screenwriter John Briley. The latter braches the oft-discussed portrayal of a homosexual relationship between scientists Tom Lewellin and David Neville (Ian Hendry and Alan Badel) and Haberman's commentary is likewise filled with interesting production details including expanding on some of the less-obvious plot points. Both add significant value to the package.

I have watched both films at least a 1/2 dozen times in the past few years. These intelligent early 60's science-fiction efforts are very reminiscent of Hammer Studios work of the same era as well as other  UK favorites like The Day of the Triffids, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, The Earth Dies Screaming, Fiend Without a Face, Night of the Big Heat, Island of Terror, and Quatermass and the Pit. Let's hope this make it to Blu-ray but until them this DVD is an absolute must-own at under $10. 

  - Gary Tooze

 



 

DVD Menu
 

 


 

Directed by Wolf Rilla


UK 196
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Directed by Anton Leader
UK 1964


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


 

 


 

 


 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

 




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