Saturday, August 25, 2012

Village of the Damned (1960)

Village of the Damned is a 1960 British science fiction film by German director Wolf Rilla. The film is a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. The lead role of Professor Gordon Zellaby was played by George Sanders. This film was #92 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. A sequel, Children of the Damned, followed in 1963, as well as a remake in 1995 also called Village of the Damned.   - From Wikipedia 


You think youʼve seen this movie before. Hasnʼt it been staged in suburbia, in urbirbia, in outer space? This is a deep human fear: that “another” will infiltrate the ranks of humanity and destroy us from within. How can you trust anyone anymore anyway!

In a small town called Midwich something strange has happened. A breathless George Sanders drops like a bag of rocks. The post mistress and everyone else too. Are they dead? Sleeping? What we soon learn is that there is an eerie “barrier” around Midwich causing this effect on all who are within it. A policeman on his one speed bike rides right past the barrier to investigate a bus crash and promptly falls off his bike onto the ground in the sleep/death trance. Soon the military ropes off and quarantines the village and proceeds to run their own tests. They put a canary in a cage over the barrier
and also send a soldier complete with gas mask in as well. The bird dies and the soldier collapses. A military pilot flying too low crashes into the Midwich forest, asleep (or dead?!) at the switch. Soon we find out from the village doctor who is attending the decoy soldier with the gas mask that he has fainted. And then a cow wakes up! If at that point Midwich had passed into the annals of creepy places we might have been less than satisfied. Luckily the mass pregnancies begin. Every village woman of child bearing age soon becomes pregnant regardless of their marital situation. And thus the invasion from within begins. The scientists wonder if the pregnancies were caused by x-rays, maybe by “static, odorless and invisible gamma rays”. But who or what is controlling these rays? Are you thinking this is a simple matter of devilʼs spawn? Because these 2 month old embryos are as developed as they would be at 7 months. And all of these virginal pregnancies
do seem to fit into a good/evil paradigm. But really, does the devil have a ray gun? So the frustrated, befuddled husbands head to the pub to commiserate. Even ancient George Sanders is about to become a Daddy! A darker tone descends when one of the husbands says, “I hope that none of them lives”. But when all of the babies are born healthy with “strange eyes” and grow to look theyʼre seven year old at age one
while wearing look alike platinum wigs, we all begin to worry. And these children! They look like us, (with wigs) and they kind of sound like us, if we were middle aged women speaking like children. But they also have strange fingernails and hair from an “unknown hair group” (wigs I tell you!). The village attempts to
assimilate the children but these kids barely talk, they donʼt smile and they can all solve the same tricky chinese puzzle box as if it were nothing. One villager even says that “what matters about children is that they are good or bad and these are bad!” Finally the idea that “aliens” might be behind the whole thing comes into the Midwhich mystery. They speculate that there must have been some kind of “transmission of energy”, or that beings from space directed “impulses” at the village in order to plant their suspicious “seed”.
When the townspeople learn that “other colonies” of strange children have sprung up all over the world, they consider their options, because obviously this species doesnʼt mean to live benignly amongst us. They are us but not, so they must mean to take us over. Do we imprison them? Eradicate, KILL them? When our hero the old daddy George Sanders contemplates the idea that these children are “the worldʼs new people” no one agrees. We are only comfortable with the idea that those who will destroy or supplant us must not look like us, they must be easily identified. Otherwise it is insurrection; watch out for the evil within.
- Kirsten Mccory

WOLF RILLA  (1960)
77 MIN

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