Village of the Damned (1960)


One day in an English village, everyone drops unconscious for several hours. People outside the village discover the phenomenon and investigate. When they step inside the perimeter, they, too, fall unconscious. The terrifying mystery resolves as quickly as it started — everyone simply wakes up, without any noticeable signs of trauma or injury. Or so it seems. A few months later, every child-bearing woman in town is suddenly pregnant, and when they give birth, the children are all Aryan blondes with glowing eyes who share a hive-mind. They can also force their will on people, which leads to a series of unfortunate deaths. Where are these children from, and what do they want?

Village of the Damned stars George Sanders (All About Eve) and Barbara Shelley as the couple who raise David (Martin Stephens), the defacto leader of the strange children. Sanders teaches the children, simultaneously studying them to find out if they mean harm. The government is naturally worried about the kids, but Sanders gives them the benefit of the doubt… up to a point. When it becomes clear the children care about their own survival far and beyond their concerns for humanity, he decides he must risk his life to destroy them.

This British production is especially strong in its first half, as the mystery unfolds. The creepiest sequences are the earliest ones, depicting the sudden incapacitation of the entire village and the outside world’s attempts to study the problem. Once the children are born, it becomes more of a standard horror movie, but still an entertaining one. The horror is mostly psychological, with few violent moments and no blood or gore. The ending comes along abruptly. It isn’t especially memorable or believable, although it does preserve the film’s central mystery. Viewers are left to decide for themselves whether Village of the Damned draws upon our fear of the bomb, communists, extra-terrestrials — or all of the above.

With Michael Gwynn, Laurence Naismith, and John Phillips.

Share Button