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Village of the Damned

Village of the Damned (1995) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  99m  •    •  Directed by: John Carpenter.  •  Starring: Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, Michael Paré, Meredith Salenger, Mark Hamill, Pippa Pearthree, Peter Jason, Constance Forslund, Karen Kahn, Thomas Dekker, Lindsey Haun, Cody Dorkin.  •  Music by: John Carpenter, Dave Davies.
       An American village is visited by some unknown life form which leaves the women of the village pregnant. Nine months later, the babies are born, and they all look normal, but it doesn't take the "parents" long to realize that the kids are not human or humane.

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Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
Image from: Village of the Damned (1995)
If my summary doesn't tell you anything about the quality of this effort, then hang your head in shame. A film directed by John Carpenter should not be average. It should stay in your mind long after you've finished viewing it for a good reason. This is, after all, the man who directed such classics as They Live, Big Trouble In Little China, and The Thing that we're talking about. Normally, when I see his name on the director's credit, I expect big things out of the film.

The problem here is that the whole production has a very made for television feel to it. The effects, while very high-rent and solid in their execution, feel very much like they were designed to plug up holes in the story. The iris effects are an excellent example. The writing staff, unable to think of a more subtle and effective method of demonstrating that these children have unnatural powers that enable them to convince people to do terrible things, overutilise these psychedelic iris effects to a point that would be comical if it didn't feel so childish.

The cast has a very low-rent, daytime television feel to it, too. While Christopher Reeve had made himself synonymous with the Man Of Steel to such an extent that the idea of the Superman films being remade seems like Hollywood's ultimate blasphemy, a look at his resumé in front of the camera on other films gives the impression that he was just another B-list actor who caught a very lucky break. Linda Kozlowski is famous for being the straight arrow in a very stereotypical comedy series about a type of individual that hasn't really existed in the English-speaking world since the dawn of mass media. You could put clips of her in those films next to clips of her in this film, and, set decoration aside, not be able to tell them apart. Mark Hamill provides us all with a dose of that patented Christian Love (™) by telling us how these children have no souls, aren't like us and therefore must die, and so forth. Surprisingly, he delivers the most believable and credible performance in the entire film, even if he does look a bit worse for wear.

The redeeming factors in this adaptation are another masterful score from Carpenter, combined with the kind of closed-open ending that Carpenter has been famous for ever since The Thing. Instead of the typical "they all died, the end" ending that is characteristic of lesser horror films, Carpenter stimulates the viewer's imagination by giving it some room to move in. I mentioned the scoring for a good reason, too. Carpenter also has the ability to make the human voice seem like something other than a useless tack-on, as opposed to 99.99 percent of the RIAA's output. The intonal humming of the choir during the closing credits theme will stick in your memory long after you've forgotten the film. It makes the barnyard siege sequence in particular stand out more than it really deserves.

I gave Village Of The Damned a five out of ten. With a different cast and a better writer, it could have earned a ten out of ten. It is one of the few films with a score that I'd like to own on compact disc when I couldn't give a toss for the film itself.


Review by mentalcritic from the Internet Movie Database.

 

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