From the master of suspense, John Carpenter, comes a chilling new version of the sci-fi classic. 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. In what The New York Times calls "one scarifying trip," the people of Midwich must try to find a way to stop the unstoppable in the Village of the Damned.
In 1995's VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, something has come over the quiet, coastal town of Midwich, California. Whatever it is, causes a mass "blackout", in which the entire town is rendered unconscious(even the livestock). This blackout occurs for some time, before everyone regains consciousness, with barely any recollection of what had occurred, Following the event, all of Midwich, continue on with their lives normally. That is before something even more bizarre comes about. A strange phenomenon. Following the blackout, a number of the Midwich women, miraculously, have all become pregnant simultaneously. But it does not stop there - as the the pregnancies, begin to move along at a rapid rate. And soon all of the women give birth at the same time. All of them born seemingly healthy - minus one that was still born - all of them with a white head of hair, and a set of sometimes, piercing, glowing eye eyes. Initially, although born under mysterious circumstances, things seem rather normal. It is not until the children begin to grow rapidly, that things are clear, that not is alright, Because soon a string of suicides, and other deaths begin to plague Midwich, and they all have but one thing in common - yes, the group of children - which are now being led in their ways by Mara - the child born to Dr. Alan Chaffee and his wife Barbara. The strange behavior of the Midwich children arouses the suspicion of Epidemiologist, Susan Verner, who has studied the town, since the mysterious blackout. She's convinced that the children, are in fact, not of this Earth, and that the Midwich women, were merely hosts to a strange race. Unfortunately, she'd be right. They are in fact otherworldly, and have a plan of domination - this according to Mara. In the end, the town of Midwich, is ordered to evacuate, but with Mara and the rest of the children in control, it is a task not so easy. This is when Alan Chaffee must go one one one with his "daughter" in an attempt to outwit her, and to possibly save the town of Midwich from being destroyed.
This 1995 film from John Carpenter, is actually a remake of a 1960 film of the same name, which itself, was based from the 1957 novel, "The Midwich Cuckoos" from Author John Wyndham. Personally, at this time, I have yet to see the original film, or read the book. But when it comes to this film, it is actually one that I have now seen quite a few times. Yes, over the years, this film has been one of my guilty pleasures. I don't know what it is about this film - but I like it. Yes, knowing full well, just how cheesy it is. Although the acting performances are decent enough overall, there are moments where the acting goes well overboard. Take Alan Chaffee's confrontation of his "daughter" Mara near the end, as he attempts to talk some sense into her. Christopher Reeve's delivery is so over the top, that it is actually unintentionally funny. And, while we are speaking on delivery, some of the things that the child actors are required to say, as they are meant to be intelligent, comes across humorous as well, and sometimes also awkwardly. Another head scratcher being that all of the kids have white hair, and dress like the Amish, yet no one questions it, until the end of the film. I mean, your kid has white hair, and dresses retro. Would that not cause concern? And what about the fact that a scientific group offers the families a sum of $3,000 to bare the children? Which was of course proposed before the mothers had given birth(craziness). I guess that is the magic of a B-Movie. Although John Carpenter is at the helm here, yes, this movie is very much a B-Movie. While it was released theatrically in 1995, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, looks and feels like a smaller production. Here, it is what it is, but one thing is for certain, it is still very much John Carpenter. While I have not seen the original film, as said, from what I've read, here, the location was obviously changed from somewhere in the UK, to stateside, taking on the name of the town from the original, and applying it to the state of California. Carpenter also mentioned something about splitting up the film's focus, from one main character, to, 2, as the film focuses on both of the child characters, "Mara" and "David". Carpenter seems to have not made any major overhauls here, but has changed just enough, in order to put his undeniable stamp on it.
No, this film isn't groundbreaking in any way, but it is one that I have always found fun. Yes, some would call it silly fun, I guess. Here, we have a nice cast assimbled for this film, like the aforementioned Reeve, STAR WARS' Mark Hamil, Kirstie Alley, and a small role for Michael Pare. However, among the film's most known stars is some great support from Linda Kozlowski, as she portrays "Jill McGowan", one of the "mothers", whom refuses to give up on her child - "David", after he begins to show signs of sympathy. Which then brings me to the children, which is an assemblage of youngsters. Lindsey Haun confidently leads the way as the lead of the children of Midwich, "Mara". I'll just say that, "Mara" is a badass. A villain or not, she is to be liked. I have been a big fan of both Lindsey's film work, as well as music, for some time now. Here, as Mara, she kills it(no pun intended). Also noteworthy is a young Thomas Dekker as "David", the alien child with a heart. For someone being so young, he was able to be endearing to us, yes, even if he was required to say things which were well beyond his years(such as how the baby who died, was meant to be his partner/mate, etc.).
To sum things up, JOHN CARPENTER'S VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED will always be a film that gets a mixed reaction. Some like it. Some hate it. In fact, i've seen people online, who call this film, Carpenter's worst. It is all a matter of opinion, of course. I for one, have enjoyed it for years, and no matter if I like it as much as I used to, I still enjoy it overall. It's just one of those films that you can come back to every once in awhile.
This particular release sees the film, for the first time in High Definition, and it looks great
and is much more crisp than the DVD release, which looked a little flat in my opinion. The sound is also great, as the Carpenter co-penned score, really adds to the film. As for the special features for this release, the disc features a newly produced "making of" featurette, an interview with Actor Peter Jason, as well as a new episode of "Horror's Hallowed Grounds", in which Sean Clark visits some of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED's filming locations. Also included is a collection of vintage interviews, a behind the scenes photo gallery, as well as the film's theatrical trailer.
Some details about the features are as follows :
"It Takes a Village - The making of John Carpenter's VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (49m 17s)
This making of featurette which runs nearly an hour in length features Interviews with Director John Carpenter, Producer Sandy King, Actors Michael ParPeter Jason, Karen Kahn, Meredith Salenger, Thomas Dekker, Cody Dorkin, Lindsey Haun, Danielle Wiener-Keaton And Make-up Effects Artist Greg Nicotero. For fans of this film, this "making of" is a real treat, as all involved recall the film candidly. The child actors stress that they did not wear wigs in the film. That Their hair was dyed. And from what they tell us, it was painful. They talk briefly about eccentric Actor, Buck Flower, touch on working with Christopher Reeve and Mark Hamil. Also talked about are the filming locations, and what it was like working with Director John Carpenter. Effects Supervisor Greg Nicotero also talks about a particular scene involving the babies that was eventually deleted. All involved also go on to state that a good amount of the film was actually cut out by Universal upon release, which leaves us to ponder what might have been.
Horror's Hallowed Grounds (20m 58s)
In this episode of Horror's Hallowed Ground, host Sean Clark visits Inverness California, where we see various shooting sights. First we see the school, and the the McGowan house. Then we see the road where Michael Par character crashes The road that the ambulance and military vehicles speed down. And then it is the Midwich town hall, the realty office, as well as Dr. Chaffee's office, and the church. These and other locations are explored.
"The Go to Guy - Peter Jason on John Carpenter" (45m 13s)
Well traveled Actor Peter Jason, talks first meeting John Carpenter, and the subsequent roles that he took for Director John Carpenter. as well as working with Christopher Reeve, and others.
Vintage Interviews (24m 40s)
A collection of interviews conducted around the time of the film's release. Interviews featuring John Carpenter, Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, Mark Hamill And Wolf Rilla (Director Of The Original VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED).
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As I said, opinions of this film differ, but I personally happen to be one who enjoys it, No, it isn't some spectacular film, and it is far from the Director's best work. But as is, I find it perfectly enjoyable. For long time fans of this film, this particular release is worth owning. Not only does the film look great, SHOUT! FACTORY/SCREAM! FACTORY, have given the film some choice bonus features, which shed more light on the film.
Special Features include
- NEW It Takes A Village: The Making Of Village Of The Damned Featuring Interviews With Director John Carpenter, Producer Sandy King, Actors Michael ParPeter Jason, Karen Kahn, Meredith Salenger, Thomas Dekker, Cody Dorkin, Lindsey Haun, Danielle Wiener-Keaton And Make-up Effects Artist Greg Nicotero
- NEW Horror's Hallowed Grounds Revisiting The Locations Of The Film
- NEW The Go To Guy: Peter Jason On John Carpenter
- Vintage Interviews Featuring John Carpenter, Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, Mark Hamill And Wolf Rilla (Director Of The Original VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED)
- Vintage Behind-The-Scenes Footage
- Theatrical Trailer
- Behind-The-Scenes Still Gallery
This film will be released on Blu-Ray on April 12, 2016