Legal and illegal criminality. An American tourist with a boat is robbed by a gang of teenager boys, assisted by the leader's sister. But soon afterward she jumps to the victim's boat to escape her brother's incestuous jealousy. The couple fly together and is hunted by the entire gang. Both happen to enter high-classified military territory. There might be a third and atomic world war, after which no ordinary man could survive. But now and then children are born who are "naturally" radio-active and have cold blood. They might survive in the post-war world and carry on mankind. They are fetched and brought to an underground construction where they are educated by TV. They are told that they are on a space ship moving toward the earth, which they should eventually colonize. This military project seems to be a failure because of a high mortality among the children. - The military soon finds the gang. The couple finds the children and tries to help them to escape. This situation will ... Written by
Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden
Of all the Hammer films I've seen so far, and they are quite numerous, "These Are The Damned" definitely ranks as their strangest and most curious effort. This legendary British production studio specialized in straightforward monster movies and gorier updates of classic horror tales, but this particular film is something entirely different and actually quite hard to categorize. There are two principal and extremely opposite story lines in this film and, even though they seem impossible to blend, director Joseph Losey pulls it off without much effort. The first half (approximately) of the story is more or less reminiscent to such films as "West Side Story" and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", and NO, I'm not kidding. Set on a small and isolated British island community, we're introduced to King (the phenomenal Oliver Reed), his oppressed sister Joan and their docile gang of youthful thugs. The gang targets tourists, like the unfortunate American boat owner Simon Wells. Joan seduces and lures Simon to a quiet alley, where King and C° are waiting to rob and attack him whilst whistling a really awesome tune ("Black Leather, Black Leather Smash! Smash! Smash!). But Joan is fed up with her life-style and dominant brother and returns to Simon the next day, hoping to escape together. As you're subsequently expecting the rest of the story to revolve on an exciting chase & battle between the two parties, the tone and atmosphere of the film suddenly changes completely and turns into an awkward Sci-Fi ploy! Fleeing from King, Joan and Simon end up in a cave where a bunch of children are apparently kept prisoners by the military and the government. There's something odd about these kids as they all share birthdays, feel extremely cold and respond mysteriously to Geiger counters The sudden change in atmosphere is unusual, but very original and fascinating! The second half of the story is clearly influenced by the success of "Village of the Damned", which happens to be one of my favorite Sci-Fi tales and easily of the greatest classics in the genre. A fairly high level of suspense is sustained throughout both story lines and there are several genuinely creepy moments to enjoy. The acting performances aren't superb, but Losey's direction is surefooted enough to compensate. The stylish black & white photography adds tension to the already grim atmosphere and as said the theme song is truly terrific. I read about "These are the Damned" before, but it's an obscure and hard-to-find film. So, thank you very much good people of the BBC, for programming this beauty!
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