One of my favorite actors, who was taken from us far too soon, was Christopher Reeve. Yes I adored him for his perfect portrayal of the Man of Steel in 1978’s Superman: The Movie but Reeve was a phenomenal and versatile actor who made many great movies over his career from serious drama in films like Street Smart and Monsignor to hilariously funny comedies like Sidney Lumet’s brilliant Deathtrap and the slapstick Noises Off from director Peter Bogdanovich to one of the greatest romance movies ever in Somewhere in Time written by the legendary Richard Matheson. Although he did a few movies, mainly for TV that might fall into the horror genre there really was only one that stood out and happened to be directed by one of horror’s greats, John Carpenter. The film was Village of the Damned, a remake of the 1960 cult classic.
The quiet town of Midwich California has just been struck by a mysterious event that left many residents seemingly unconscious. When they all awaken, ten women are inexplicably pregnant. Nine months later the babies are all born on the same night but as they grow older the town notices they are not at all normal. All the children have pale skin, white hair, extraordinary intelligence but seemingly no personalities or conscience. And when anyone defies them, they harness incredible psychic powers to set the town right. The doctor who cares for them, Dr. Alan Chaffee (Reeve) somehow seems to have a connection with them but will it be too late to do anything about their ultimate plans?
Although never regarded as one of John Carpenter’s ‘classics’, Village of the Damned is a great flick with a solid story arc, great performances all around and a genuinely creepy vibe. Reeve heads up the cast including Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, Mark Hamill, Michael Paré and even a young Thomas Dekker as one of the creepy kids. Carpenter does a great job of actually telling a story and not just relying on the creepy kid gimmick. There are some very gruesome kills in the film and with them being perpetrated by children they are that much more disturbing. Village of the Damned is a great remake and an underappreciated gem in Carpenters oeuvre.
The new Collector’s Edition from Shout! Factory offshoot Scream Factory is loaded with some awesome new features including a brand new making of documentary full of tons of new interviews with cast and crew, a new episode of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds visiting all the film’s locations, a feature on Carpenter and some nice vintage features. Village of the Damned is better than you might remember it being, give it a chance if only for a 99-minute visit with the greatly missed Christopher Reeve. Highly recommended.