Village of the Damned

From 1995 we have Village of the Damned is a 1995 American science fiction-horror film directed by John Carpenter and a remake of the 1960 film of the same name which in turn is based on the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. The 1995 remake is set in Northern California, whereas the book and original film were both set in the United Kingdom. The 1995 film was marketed with the tagline, “Beware the Children”, and stars the late Christopher Reeve (in his last film role before being paralyzed), Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, Michael Pare, Mark Hamill, and Meredith Salenger.

In the quaint coastal town of Midwich in California’s Marin County, we see a sort of fog or mist pass through during the early morning hours and everyone including humans, animals and birds fall unconscious the same morning at 10 am. The military comes in and when their men cross the town border they fall unconscious too. 6 hours later everyone wakes up at the same time and find a couple of people died in accidents. Later they discover that 6 women, of different ages, are now pregnant including one woman who hasn’t had sex in months and a virgin teenager. None of the women seek abortions, and later all the babies are born simultaneously on one night – five boys and five girls, though one female is stillborn.

The children are all healthy and sound, but have pale skin, unusually soft, flat-sided platinum blonde hair; fierce intellect, and cobalt eyes. However, they do not appear to possess a conscience or personalities. The children display eerie psychic abilities that can result in violent and deadly consequences whenever they experience pain or provocation. Except for David, the others pair off as they know they are supposed to mate later in life. David is smaller, and is unlike the rest of the children in that he has a capacity for human emotion, and compassion. He and his mother Jill McGowan (the local school teacher) share a brief conversation about this, displaying empathy and remorse. The children’s leader is Mara, the daughter of a local physician, Dr. Alan Chaffee.

Even as a baby, Mara exhibited vengeful tendencies with regard to the use of her abilities, using her mind to force her mother to boil her arm in hot soup and commit suicide by jumping off the cliff. The children, who are by now known to have a hive mind, eventually move to the local barn as their classroom and for survival. The town folk learn that there are other colonies of blackout children in foreign countries, but due to their inhuman nature they were quickly eliminated, in some cases at the cost of destroying the entire town. Government scientist, Dr. Susan Verner, is forced to show the children the preserved stillborn baby she secretly kept to study, and the preserved corpse is seen to be undeniably alien. The children collectively force her to fatally stab herself.

An angry mob gathers to kill the children, but the leader is forced to set herself on fire and burns to death, and later the state police are mentally controlled into shooting each other in a chaotic gun battle. Using a method that Susan taught him, Alan hides his thought from the children by envisioning a sturdy brick wall and then plans to detonate a suitcase filled with explosives. The children begin to suspect that Alan is hiding something, and they slowly “destroy” the wall. Finally, Jill shows up, but the children stop her and attempt to use mind control. David, tired of this, rushes to her defense and knocks Mara over. The children turn on David, but Jill rushes him from the building. As soon as the children discover that Alan is hiding his knowledge of the bomb, it detonates in an enormous explosion, killing Alan and the alien children.

Jill and David, however, are safe in a car fleeing the site; she says that they will both move to a place where nobody knows them. David looks off into the distance as they drive away. I wish they could have made a sequel to this. I like the cast and the acting. It’s a good enough film for a late afternoon spin. 7.5 outta 10!

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