Village of the Damned (1960) Poster

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  • Two months after the inhabitants of the English village of Midwich fell into a deep sleep for several hours, all of the women of child-bearing age are found to be unaccountably pregnant. Five months after that, they all give birth to ten-pound babies, all possessed of blond hair, glowing eyes, and extreme intelligence. Although all the villagers are afraid of the children and want to destroy them, Professor Gordon Zellaby (George Sanders), whose wife Anthea (Barbara Shelley) gave birth one of the children, asks for permission to study them. However, it soon becomes clear to Zellaby that the children are becoming too powerful to control. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Village of the Damned is based on the 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by British science fiction writer John Wyndham [1903-1969]. It was adapted for the screen by screenwriters Stirling Silliphant, Wolf Rilla, and Ronald Kinnoch (as George Barclay). A sequel-of-sorts, Children of the Damned (1964), was released in 1963, and John Carpenter remade Village of the Damned (1995) in 1995. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It is not made clear in the film where the children originated. Some of the more knowledgeable members of the community hold a conference in London at which they discuss possibilities. Dr Carlisle (Keith Pyott) presents the idea that the children may simply be human mutations. Professor Smith (John Stuart) suggests that they may be the result of energy transmissions from elsewhere in the universe. In other words...aliens. That would explain the defined "time outs" where people lay unconscious for several hours, all at the same time and in all of the communities where the children were eventually born. The alien origin is upheld in the novel. There is one point in the book where it is revealed that, during the time out, someone had taken a photo of Midwich from high above. In the photo was spotted a large, white, spoon-shaped object, presumably an alien spacecraft, sitting exactly in the center of the time-out region. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Physically, all 12 of them have light golden hair, narrow fingernails, and eyes that glow. They develop at an astounding rate. All the children weighed over 10 pounds at birth. At four months of age, they function as normal 18-month-old children. Mentally, they possess telepathic powers, and they seem to possess a "mass mind," such that, if you demonstrate something to one of them, they all know it. Zellaby terms it "one mind raised to the 12th power". Microscopically, their hair shaft has a peculiar D-shape. Emotionally, the children appear to be cold and possess little sense of conscience. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • By superimposing a negative image of their eyes over the pupils, thus making the darker iris appear to glow white whenever the children used their powers. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The film does not speculate on a reason. In the novel Zellaby speculates that the children are like the cuckoos' offspring: simply dumped in another nest for the surrogate parents to raise. He reckons that perhaps the entire world is just a huge testing ground for releasing certain strains of species, basically just to see what happens, i.e., who ends up dominating and who ends up being dominated. He is uncomfortable with the theory, but given the lack of hard evidence for human evolution, he is prepared at least to speculate, somewhat cynically, that we were all "put" here at one stage or another and are being observed from above purely out of cold, scientific curiosity. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • That question was never answered in either the book or the film. However, Midwich wasn't the only place in which the strange children were born. Thirty infants were born in a town in northern Australia, but they all died within 10 hours of birth. Ten infants were born in an Eskimo community in Canada but, because fair-haired children violated their taboos, all the children were killed. Attempts were made to educate the children born in a mountain community in the Soviet Union, but eventually they were destroyed by an atomic bomb. In another community in Irkutsk, Russia, the men murdered all of the children as well as their mothers. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The film was shot in the village of Letchmore Heath, near Watford, approximately 12 miles (20 kilometres) north of London. Local buildings such as "The Three Horseshoes Pub" and "Aldenham School", were used during filming. Photos of some of these sites can be viewed here. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It is decided to place all 12 children in a separate building where Zellaby can teach and study them. When it becomes apparent that the children are using their powers to force others to obey their collective will, Zellaby decides they must be destroyed, much like the Soviets destroyed the children born there. Zellaby carries a bomb with him into the classroom and concentrates on visualizing a brick wall so that the children cannot detect his intention. Moments before the bomb explodes, David scans his mind and detects what he's about to do. But it is too late. The bomb explodes. As the building bursts into flames, the children's glowing eyes can be seen floating in the air. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The ambiguous final scene in which the children's glowing eyes can be seen floating amid the destruction has been the subject of much conjecture. Some viewers point out that the children in the other villages were able to be destroyed, so it's likely that Zellaby succeeded, too. Other viewers, however, are left with the feeling that the children may have survived in noncorporeal form. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Yes, but not by another person. One might guess that Martin Stephens-who plays David Zellaby, the most prominent of the strange, blonde-haired children-was dubbed by a female actress specializing in boys. But that is his own eerily precise diction. According to the commentary on the DVD, Stephens voice was simply overdubbed with his own voice to add a touch of alien quality to it. So, yes it was dubbed, but it was his own voice. Source: Steve Haberman's audio commentary for Warner Brothers 2004 DVD release, Village of the Damned/Children of the Damned Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The title of the novel, The Midwich Cuckoos, is a reference to the cuckoo bird, which lays its eggs in the nest of other birds in the hopes that they will be raised by the resident parents. Often that's what happens, and the cuckoo nestling typically expends the resources available to the other nestlings, resulting in the cuckoo being the only nestling to make it to adulthood. This concept was probably difficult to convey via film. Without the cuckoo scenes that serve as a parallel to what the children are doing, the title would make little sense. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Those who have both seen the movie and read the book say that the adaptation is fairly accurate. In the novel, most of the story is conveyed through the weighty philosophical discourse of Gordon Zellaby, the main human character, an aspect that was difficult to put into the film. Two differences are mentionable. One is that the film relies heavily on the children's ability to read minds, something not emphasized in the book. The other is that the idea of the "brick wall" is entirely invented for the movie. In the book, Zellaby is only able to carry out his explosive task because he has identified their only weakness—that they trust him. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Actually, Village of the Damned is an American film. It was made by MGM studios but filmed on location in the UK with an English cast. Similar classic British horror films that have been recommended by viewers of Village of the Damned include The Innocents (1961) (1961), in which the governess of two strange children suspects that they are possessed by ghosts. One of the children (Miles) is played by the same Martin Stephens who played David in Village of the Damned. Based on a novel by John Wyndham, author of The Midwich Cuckoos, The Day of the Triffids (1963) (1962) features alien spores arriving on earth in a meteor shower. In The City of the Dead (1960) aka Horror Hotel (1960), a young college student investigates witchcraft in a small village in New England. In Dead of Night (1945) (1945), a group of people in a country farmhouse tell each other about their nightmares. Also recommended are two British omnibus movies: From Beyond the Grave (1974) (1973), an anthology of four stories by British science fiction writer R. Chetwynd-Hayes, and Torture Garden (1967) (1967), in which four people learn their fates at a sideshow exhibit. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Children Of The Damned takes the position that the strange children are advanced forms of humanity itself. It suggests that the energy transmissions were not alien but from an advanced race of humans far in the future. The children in Children of the Damned are also different from those in Village of the Damned in that they were from all races, one per continent, only used their powers when needed to survive, and didn't know why they were there. The only similarity between the children from both movies is that they were telekinetic kids with glowing eyes. Edit (Coming Soon)

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