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Village of the Damned (1960)

Not Rated | | Horror, Sci-Fi | 7 December 1960 (USA)
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In the English village of Midwich, the blonde-haired, glowing-eyed children of uncertain paternity prove to have frightening powers.

Director:

Wolf Rilla

Writers:

Stirling Silliphant (screenplay), Wolf Rilla (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George Sanders ... Gordon Zellaby
Barbara Shelley ... Anthea Zellaby
Michael Gwynn ... Major Alan Bernard
Laurence Naismith ... Doctor Willers
John Phillips ... General Leighton
Richard Vernon ... Sir Edgar Hargraves
Jenny Laird ... Mrs. Harrington
Thomas Heathcote ... James Pawle
Martin Stephens ... David Zellaby
Richard Warner ... Harrington
Sarah Long Sarah Long ... Evelyn Harrington
Charlotte Mitchell Charlotte Mitchell ... Janet Pawle
Pamela Buck Pamela Buck ... Milly Hughes
Rosamund Greenwood Rosamund Greenwood ... Miss Ogle
Susan Richards ... Mrs. Plumpton
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Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

DEMONICAL...UNEARTHLY...THE STRANGEST STORY EVER TOLD! (original poster-all caps) See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 December 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Village of the Damned See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$200,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,400,000, 31 December 1960

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,175,000, 31 December 1960
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on the John Wyndham novel, "The Midwich Cuckoos". The title refers to the fact that when cuckoo birds lay eggs, they deposit them in the nests of other (unsuspecting) birds, who then raise the cuckoo chicks as their own. Compounding the insidious nature of this process, the cuckoo chicks often kill their nestmates in competition for food and parental attention. See more »

Goofs

Just before the credits, there's a long crane shot which ends in the trees. It's obvious that the crane snagged a branch on its way up, because a branch suddenly snaps into the frame. They follow the shot with a brief view of other branches waving around, as though to cover the mistake...but the first branch was *not* blowing in the wind. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Prof. Gordon Zellaby: [on telephone] Good morning. Uh, would you get me Major Bernard at his Whitehall number? Thank you.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Psychic Brats (2012) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Midwich Brick Wall.
8 May 2010 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Village of the Damned is directed by Wolf Rilla and is a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. It stars George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Martin Stephens & Michael Gwynn. It was originally meant to be an American produced picture starring Ronald Colman but MGM got itchy feet on account of what they deemed as some sinister issues. A couple of years down the line the film was relocated to England and shot on location at Letchmore Heath, with Sanders stepping in for the recently passed away Colman.

The peaceful English village of Midwich falls victim to a strange occurrence that sees the inhabitants fall asleep for several hours. With no clue to exactly what happened or what caused such an event, the villagers are further baffled to find all the women of Midwich have suddenly fell pregnant. Come the births of the children it's apparent that all is not well here in this once sleepy little village.

The 1950s was a great decade for the sci-fi movie fan, with the paranoia of potential atomic war and communist fervour taking hold, a ream of B movie schlockers tapped into this feverish air of mistrust. With the sight of giant creepy crawlies and atomic monsters rampaging across America creating much fun, it's arguably with the alien invasion that 50s cinema garnered its real terror. Enter English sci-fi writer John Wyndham (The Day Of the Triffids), who wrote The Midwich Cuckoos in 1957. Wyndham came up with an original idea to take the alien invasion premise to another level, use children. Horrible, creepy, blonde haired, blank staring, children.

The film in truth is too short to fully do justice to Wyndham's frightening novel, while other issues such as the barely believable coupling of Sanders and Shelley ensures the film has a lot of creakiness within. But it's still a potent bit of sci-fi horror that, come the latter stages, cranks up the creep factor as the children are born and the piece becomes a conventional monster movie. It's here where Rilla does a terrific job of building the dread. Armed with a small budget of under $300 thousand (it was a monster box office smash), the stop frame effects work is surprisingly effective, as are the child actors. Led by the impressive Martin Stephens who a year later would continue the creepy vein as Miles in The Innocents. A more than decent sequel would follow three years later {Children Of the Damned} and a poor remake by John Carpenter would surface in 1995. But it's this one that stands the test of time as a genre classic. Spooky atmosphere coupled with a genuinely intelligent and sinister story makes for an eerie 70 odd minutes of cinema. 8/10


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