John Carpenter’s “Village of the Damned Collector’s Edition” gets an HD upgrade from our good friends at Scream Factory. John Carpenter directed the movie from a screenplay by David Himmelstein, Steven Siebert, and Larry Sulkis. The original script for the 1960 film was written by Stirling Silliphant, Wolf Rilla, and Ronald Kinnoch based on the novel by John Wyndham. The cast is made up of Christopher Reeve in his last performance before being paralyzed, Kirstie Alley, Mark Hamill, Linda Kozlowski, and Michael Pare.
Something is terribly wrong in the tiny village of Midwich. After an unseen force invades a quiet coastal town, ten women mysteriously find themselves pregnant. Local physician Dr. Alan Chaffee (Christopher Reeve) and government scientist Dr. Susan Verner (Kirstie Alley) join forces when the women simultaneously give birth… and the reign of supernatural terror begins. The people of Midwich must try to find a way to stop the unstoppable in the “Village of the Damned.”
“Village of the Damned” doesn’t have that John Carpenter quality we’ve come to expect from the director’s more “personal” projects. The passion we see in his remake of “The Thing from Another World” is all but absent here. I don’t get a sense of emotional attachment to the source material like I do for Howard Hawks’ original 1951film. Maybe that’s because I’ve read and seen interviews with Carpenter and his production partner where they admitted they were less than enthused to take on the movie and had ulterior motives.
Since “Village of the Damned” was made before the CGI craze hit Hollywood, we get a lot of practical and traditional special effects. Director Carpenter features not just one, but two burned and charred bodies for horror enthusiasts to enjoy. The visual effects of the children’s eyes are also a treat to look upon.
John Carpenter shares the responsibility of the musical score for “Village of the Damned” with The Kinks’ singer, songwriter and guitarist Dave Davies. The combination of these two talents makes for an eclectic soundtrack. Let’s just say it’s not quite as menacing as what we’ve come to expect when sitting down to watch Carpenter’s productions.
“Village of the Damned Collector’s Edition” is rated R for some sci-fi terror and violence. It’s rather tame by today’s standards. It also contains gore, profanity, and frightening and intense scenes. If released today, the movie would be rated PG-13.
Scream Factory provides us with new special features for their Blu-ray release of “Village of the Damned.” “It Takes a Village: The Making of ‘Village of the Damned’”contains interviews with Director John Carpenter, Producer Sandy King, Actors Michael Pare, Peter Jason, Meredith Salenger, Cody Dorkin, Karen Kahn, Lindsey Haun, Danielle Wiener, Thomas Dekker, and Makeup Effects Artist Greg Nicotero.We get to return to the Village with” Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – Revisiting the Locations of the Film.”
Producer / Actor Peter Jason opens up in “The Go To Guy: My Career with John Carpenter.” Vintage interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, a theatrical trailer, and a behind-the-scenes still gallery are found as well.
John Carpenter’s “Village of the Damned” isn’t necessarily a bad movie. It just feels like the iconic director was going through the motions. Almost like he really didn’t have any personal stakes in creating something that would stand the test of time like his own “Halloween” or “The Fog.” The acting isn’t really bad and there are some chilling moments, but I couldn’t shake the idea that I was being walked through an updated Reader’s Digest condensed version of the original 1960 British film.
“Village of the Damned Collector’s Edition” is available now on Blu-ray.