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In the small English village of Midwich everybody and everything falls into a deep, mysterious sleep for several hours in the middle of the day. Some months later every woman capable of child-bearing is pregnant and the children that are born out of these pregnancies seem to grow very fast and they all have the same blond hair and strange, penetrating eyes that make people do things they don't want to do. Written by
Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>
On a perfectly normal, lovely afternoon in the English countryside, a small town is suddenly taken over by an unseen presence. Everyone within the town - man, woman and child - suddenly passes out cold for no apparent reason whatsoever. Anyone who attempts to enter the town from the outside is also stricken down, yet revive instantaneously when removed from the danger zone. No one, not police or military, can pass the invisible barrier, but within a few hours the strange presence is gone. Everyone seems to be alright...until a few weeks later, when all of the women in town who are of childbearing age discover themselves to be pregnant. Nine months later, a dozen identical children are born to these somewhat suspicious mothers, children with white- blond hair and scary eyes that glow. The children are oddly emotionless and only associate with each other, acting as a single entity. Worst of all, they can make anyone do whatever they want them to do, which often has fatal results. Can kindly schoolteacher (the wonderful George Sanders), whose beloved wife has borne one of these creatures, help the alien children embrace their human half? Or will he have to destroy them all?
This is an absolute masterpiece of paranoia, sci-fi style. The acting is superb, especially by the late and under-appreciated Mr. Sanders, whose compassion and intellect sets the tone for this quiet and somewhat sad little tale. The lovely Barbara Shelley as Sanders loving wife is sweet and totally believable. Indeed, the townsfolk are all very realistic and approachable, kind and simple folk who don't really deserve the wrath of the spooky children who have invaded their small town. Young Martin Stephens, who also turned in a creepy performance in the ghostly masterpiece "The Innocents" is every bit as creepy here as George and Barbara's "son."
Filmed in moody black and white, this movie creeps along with all the menacing stealth of a thick London pea souper. This is an intelligent horror film which deserves better attention. It probably won't be appreciated by people who consider expletives and explosions to be main characters, but for people who prefer horror with brains (and not brains ripped out of skulls) this is the film for them. Fans of George Sanders shouldn't miss this; it's quite a switch from his usual smarmy roles, and a nice switch at that.
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