'Village of the Damned' Blu-ray: Masterful Restoration of Thrilling Tale of Immaculate Misconception
Warner Archive provides a good candidate for a Saturday Thriller Theater matinee with the July 31, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1960 classic British horror movie "Village of the Damned." Speaking from personal experience, folks who already own the "Damned" DVD will love the greatly enhanced video and audio of this remastered release. The contrast is much sharper, you literally can see every detail, and the audio that helps set the creepy tone is crystal clear,
The most awesome thing about "Damned" from a modern perspective is that it is a probable inspiration for most Stephen King fare. (It also is recalled that "The Simpsons" parodies "Damned" once or more.) The English rural village of Midwich stands in for the small Maine communities that attract big bads in King novels, Also ala King, a sudden eerie event early in "Damned" triggers the ensuing well-crafted terror.
"Damned" opens innocently enough with man of letters Gordon Zellaby having a routine telephone conversation with brother-in-law Major Alan Bernard (Michael Gwynn). The aforementioned surprise occurence is Gordon suddenly seemingly dropping dead. The typically British response of Alan is puzzlement but not especially strong concern; he merely mentions to his superior that his duties are taking him near Midwich and that he would like to ensure that the husband of his wife is not a rotting corpse.
On arriving at the outskirts of Midwich later that day, Alan discovers that the area is littered with people who apparently fell in their tracks. Gordon and his neighbors subsequently waking up does not lead to any explanation for the mass narcolepsy.
The real fun begins on the townfolks learning that Gordon spouse Anthea (Barbara Shelley) and every other woman physically capable of giving birth has a hot-cross bun in the oven. Trauma and drama ensues regarding women such as the "innocent" who claims that she "has never been touched" and the wife whose husband is on a year-long absence when she receives news of the impending birth.
An abbreviated gestation period and the little surprises physically maturing at an accelerated rate are additional early indications of something weird. The good people of Midwich also soon learn that other communities are having a similar phenomenon.
Early indications of sinister elements occur when the kids likely are biologically in their terrible twos but seem like roughly 10 year-olds. These youngsters having straight platinum blonde hair, blank stares, a creepy voice pattern, and ability to make their eyes glow begin boldly demonstrating their abilities to read minds and to use mind control to exact revenge on those who purposely or inadvertently do them wrong do not endear them to their elders . The only disappoint in "Damned" is a girl being stopped from putting a bully in his place.
Popular (and talented) British child actor of the era Martin Stephens plays leader of the wolf pack David Zellaby. He shows far more poise and understanding of his role than adult thespians. You really would not like him when he is angry.
The underlying dilemma is that the kids simply want to protect themselves and to understand what makes us foolish mortals tick. The related problems are that the kids merely looking and behaving weird is a large strike against them. Their lack of hesitancy to use their powerful mind-control powers to inflict karma on those who harm or otherwise mistreat them is an additional issue.
The "enemy" both being children and coming from the women of the village complicates things; their practice of attacking only when provoked is another factor, The Cold War era of the film is reflected regarding the underlying consideration being that the threat seemingly is currently controllable. The debate includes whether to imprison, kill, or find another option regarding the menace.
The Superman element is finding the equivalent of Kryptonite in dealing with a foe that literally knows your every thought and can directly turn your attack against you. The fact that there is the sequel "Children of the Damned" indicates the effectiveness of the final assault. One need not be a mind reader to anticipate that Archive is releasing a Blu-ray of the sequel by the end of 2018.
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