Sunday, April 24, 2011

#261. Village of the Damned (1960)

Directed By: Wolf Rilla

Starring: George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Martin Stephens

Tag line: "What Demonic Force Lurks Behind Those Eyes?"

Trivia:  Ronald Colman was originally supposed to star in this film, but he passed away in 1958.

Village of the Damned is only 75 minutes long, and I admit to being utterly amazed by this fact. Over the years, I've seen this film probably a half-dozen or so times, and I still can't believe how much the filmmakers were able to squeeze into such a relatively short running time.

It's an ordinary day in the small English village of Midwich, with one minor exception: each and every one of the townspeople has suddenly and mysteriously fallen into a deep, deep sleep. They awaken several hours later, slightly groggy but none the worse for wear. That is, until a month or so later when it's discovered that all of the town's women of child-bearing age are now pregnant. Gordon Zellaby (George Sanders), whose wife, Anthea (played by Barbara Shelley) is one of the pregnant women, teams up with the town's doctor (Laurence Naismith) and the military to try and solve this very strange mystery. However, before anyone can agree on what's causing the phenomenon, the women deliver their babies, all on the same day, and all sharing the exact same size and general appearance. As the children grow and mature at an alarmingly rapid rate, Zellaby and the others continue to search for answers as to why they were born, and why they all have such piercing, cold eyes.

Village of the Damned kicks off with an intriguing mystery when everybody in town falls asleep at the exact same moment. The opening minutes of the film are filled with chaotic scenes of cars that have run off the road, and tractors that continue to move forward with their drivers asleep at the wheel. There's even one house where a faucet has been left open, resulting in gallons of water spilling out onto the floor. The military, which was in the area on maneuvers, starts to investigate this strange occurrence, yet before they or anyone else can figure out what's happening, everybody wakes up, almost as suddenly as they fell asleep. The mystery that surrounds this film, which is always engaging, continues with the unexplained pregnancies, but once the babies are born, the time for questions is over. Each and every one of these youngsters proves to be super intelligent (when you teach one something, the others all learn it as well), a fact that, at first, is treated as little more than a curiosity. But when the children grow, their powers grow as well, and before long these kids are holding the entire town of Midwich hostage.

Village of the Damned is packed to the absolute breaking point with mysteries, thrills and chills, all squeezed into a very brisk, very breezy hour and fifteen minutes.


Anonymous said...

Listening now Shock and I am already laughing with the Pack great start and the Who let the Dogs out was a perfect song for this episode. Great concept and while looking at the ratings I will be getting some demonic dogs. Bridgette IND

DVD Infatuation said...

@Bridgette: Thanks for stopping by.

There definitely were some fun movies this episode, and I liked a few of them a bit more than I would have thought. Please be sure to stop back and let me know what you thought of the movies after you watch them.

And yes, WHO LET THE DOGS OUT was a great song for this episode (though I think this now makes the one millionth time I've heard it!).

Thanks again for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

DVD Infatuation said...

NOTE: It seems as if the comments section was "down" first thing this morning on the site. I'm not sure what the problem was, but it seems to have been corrected. If you are having any difficulty posting comments, please let me know by e-mailing me at

Thanks so much for stopping by, and my apologies for the inconvenience.

DVD Infatuation said...

UPDATE: I've heard from several people that the comments are not working for many of you. My apologies. I have e-mailed Blogger about the problem, and am awaiting their response.

Sorry about this, everyone! Not sure what the issue is, but hopefully they'll be able to get to the bottom of it soon.

Martin S said...

This is a test comment.

DVD Infatuation said...

#Thatsnews: Thanks for the test comment. I did receive. it!

NOTE: The comments should be working now, but you will notice a change. Instead of the comment box appearing at the bottom of the post, it will now be on an entirely new page.

Simply click on POST COMMENT below to be taken there. Again, sorry for the problems and thanks for your patience.

Anonymous said...

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

It's working now, DRSHOCK, I been checking all afternoon, I sent an email to the Planet Feedback and BILLCHETE let me know you was working on it or to email you. I was just getting ready to email and tried one last time. Not sure that I like how it goes to a new page, but if it is working that is great. I just wanted to let you know that I never knew Village of the Damned had an original I always assumed the Carpanter one was an original. Boy Carpanter really made alot of remakes. I will be buying the movie on your suggestion.-BopNStop

SJHoneywell said...

I watched Village of the Damned a month or so ago because I'd never seen it. Such an odd little film. I'm a little surprised it wasn't produced by Val Lewton, because there is a real Lewton feel to this film, not the least of which is the almost criminally short running time.

Then again, it would be difficult for Lewton to produce a film that was made almost a decade after his death.

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by.

@Anonymous: Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm glad you're enjoying the posts, and thanks also for the comment.

@BopNStop: Yes, it's finally working again! I thank you for your patience, and for alerting us via e-mail of the problem. Billchete did let me know he had gotten a few e-mails, and I appreciate you taking the time to let me know (and I'm with you...this "new page" format will take some getting used to, but the embedded comments at the bottom were what was causing the problem, so I didn't have much choice in the matter).

As for VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, yes, Carpenter does have a few remakes to his credit, though as remakes go, his are among the best. I hope you enjoy the original, and please be sure to let me know what you think of it. Thanks again, and thanks also for listening to Planet Macabre.

@Steve: You know, I never thought of it before, but VILLAGE really DOES have a Lewton feel to it (along with the short running time, there's also the minimalist approach to the special effects). Of course, as you said, it would have been difficult for him to have anything to do with it from beyond the grave! Thanks for the comment...they're always appreciated.

Anonymous said...

#12 was awesom i like the critiques of the dog movies - #13 sounds very "extreme" cant wait

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad you enjoyed episode #12. Stay tuned...ep. #13, if nothing else, is going to be interesting!

Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

dogs-dogs-and more dogs-enjoyed the complete episode-some more great dvd movies on all the host's segments-i really like the way the show progresses with the breaks of dvd segements-harshon

DVD Infatuation said...

@harshon: Thanks for stopping by!

Glad you enjoyed the episode, and I do agree with you: the breakdown of DVD recommendations is definitely a plus!

Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anthony Lee Collins said...

The film may be short, but it was definitely influential:

There are even characters in my writing who are based on The Golden (from the comic The Establishment) and are therefore second-generation Midwich Cuckoos.

(BTW: Does blogger have one of those things where you can click when you leave a comment and it emails you if someone responds in that thread? Those are useful -- I just added one myself.)

DVD Infatuation said...

@Anthony: Sorry it took me a while to reply, but I was looking into how you might be able to subscribe to the comments (which was a bit hidden from view...thus making it difficult to track down).

You're only able to subscribe to comments on the postings page (not the page used for comments, or the home page). To subscribe to the comments for this film, you would need to do the following:

1. Click on the title of the post (in this case, it's #261. VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1961). This will take you to that post's specific page.

2. At the bottom of the post, under the footer menu (where you'll see OLDER POSTS, NEWER POSTS, etc.) is a link to subscribe to comments for that page. Click on it and follow the instructions.

Hope this helps (and thanks for your thoughts on this excellent film as well, and for sharing the link. It's appreciated)

Anthony Lee Collins said...

@Dave, thanks a lot for the research, but I came up with an alternative solution. Near the top of your sidebar there's a link to the RSS feed for the site, which I subscribed to a while ago (I'm a big fan of RSS). However, further down there are two more RSS links, one for posts (like the one above) and one for comments. If I'm on the page for a review, the second one gives me a feed with comments for that review. If I'm on the front page it, gives me comments for the site. So, I don't have to subscribe for each post, I can get all the comments, including ones on the reviews I haven't read yet.

DVD Infatuation said...

@Anthony: Your way is about 1,000% better than what I came up with! Thanks so much for pointing me in a much better direction (even if it does shine a light on my technical deficiencies! But what the hell...can't argue with the truth, can I? lol).

Thanks again. I really appreciate you taking the time to post this.