Village of the Damned

By David Sturm, Copyright 1996

The remake of "Village of the Damned" turns from boring to ludicrous about the time the angry mob with torches shows up.

Where, one wonders, do movie mobs get these big flaming torches, especially in suburban Connecticut. Wouldn't flashlights be more convenient and practical?

Then all becomes clear--this movie mob has torches so that the leader of the vigilantes can end up setting herself on fire. The script is tailored to set up stunt, make-up and special effect set pieces.

Too bad. The concept behind "Village"--ruthless aliens incarnated as human children--has a lot of creepy potential.

The source material here is a novel called "The Midwich Cuckoos," which was filmed in England as "Village of the Damned" in 1960. Like most British science fiction of that era, it was well acted and took pains to seem plausible but was a tad short in the fright department.

The remake is helmed by director John Carpenter, who has turned out some white-knucklers in the past but is turning into a hack. The journeyman cast includes Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Michael Pare and Mark Hamill.

In Midwich, one morning, everyone in town suddenly keels over in a dead faint at 10 a.m. When they wake up some hours later, all the women have been impregnated. They all give birth on the same day and all the kids have white hair, ray gun eyes and telekinetic powers.

Fear spreads through the town as kids exercise their power to make people do disturbing things, like commit suicide or shoot each other. Meanwhile, a shady scientist wants to "monitor their developing powers."

One problem is that the little monsters are blank-faced, unlovable robo-kids who think and act as a team. They're about as scary as dolls.

But imagine Patty McCormack from "The Bad Seed" (1956), Chris and Martin Udvarnoky from "The Other" (1972) and Drew Barrymore from "Firestarter" (1984) as these "damned" kids and you have an idea what this movie could have been.

Back to Video Review Archive.