Blu-ray Review: Village of the Damned (Collector’s Edition)

Village of the Damned was a classic British science fiction with horror flavor when it released in 1960. The tale of a town where a bunch of ladies ended up with similar kids shocked and amazed movie goers. It remained popular as a cult film for decades except Hollywood knew it needed to be remade since it had that horrible cinematic flaw: It was shot in black and white. TV stations in the 1990s wanted color. Since film snobs got upset at colorizing classic films, this meant the only way to keep the property hot was to remake it. Universal was ready to get Village of the Damned back on the airwaves. This led to John Carpenter being brought since he’d already remade The Thing for them. Now it was time to the master of horror to bring his touch to the tale of an intimate alien invasion.

The seaside town of Midwich could be called sleepy with it’s California coastal charms. One morning the town is so sleepy that nobody wakes up. When nearby folks get too close, they conk out too. What is causing this mysterious wave of slumber? Hard to tell except nine months after it ends, a lot of women end up pregnant. This isn’t that unusual. Think of the number of pregnancies that occur during blackouts, blizzards and World Series victories. But what makes this one special is that all the kids have the same white hair, pasty skin and steely eyes. Perhaps the father was Jackie Rogers Jr. from SCTV? Although unlike Jackie, these kids have the ability to control the minds of normal mortals. They don’t want any grown ups screwing with their master plan. The only hope for Midwich is Dr. Alan Chaffee (Superman‘s Christopher Reeve). He finds out that these aren’t the only weird kids in the world. The difference is the other towns had citizens that freaked out and killed the babies before they could get their superpowers. Are these kids too old to be eliminated by regular people?

John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned isn’t quite up to his usual standards. There’s a few good shocker moments courtesy of the effects work from Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead) and crew. Maybe things would have been a bit more intense with Kurt Russell as the doctor instead of Reeve? Although this is Reeve’s last role before his tragic horse riding accident that left him confined to a wheelchair. Mark Hamill (Star Wars) doesn’t get nearly enough screen time as the local minister. Kirstie Alley (Cheers) and Linda Kozlowski (Crocodile Dundee) are more practical than sizzle on the screen. This movie is entertaining yet remains one of Carpenter’s least Carpenter films. The film ultimately does what the studio wanted: remake The Village of the Damned in color.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the hair and eyes on the children. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. You’ll hear those creepy kids talking with their minds. The movie is subtitled.

It Takes a Village: The Making of Village of the Damned (49:17) allows Carpenter to explain how he was preparing to do a remake of Creature From the Black Lagoon when Universal changed it to Village of the Damned. He wasn’t happy at the property swap. Greg Nicotero shares test footage of the creepy babies.

The Go To Guy: Peter Jason on John Carpenter (45:11) is about what happens when an actor finds himself on the short list for a director’s various projects.

Horror’s Hallow Grounds (20:56) takes Sean Clark around Inverness, California to match up the film locations.

Vintage Interviews and Behind the Scenes (24:36) is the electronic media kit elements including young Carpenter and Christopher Reeve.

Original Trailer makes you fear the kids.

Still Gallery contains behind the scenes and promotional elements.

Scream Factory presents John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned: Collector’s Edition. Directed by John Carpenter. Script by: David Himmelstein. Starring: Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski. Michael Pare, Mark Hamill. Rated: R. Running Time: 99 minutes. Released: April 12, 2016.

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