Forgotten Films: Children of the Damned (1964)

Creepy kids are up to no good in Children of the Damned.

By Scott A. Cupp

This is the 186th in my series of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films 

When I was 8 or 9 I saw George Sanders and Barbara Shelley in the classic horror film Village of the Damned, which was based on the remarkable John Wyndham novel The Midwich Cuckoos. It was a very effective film with the trope of evil children pitted against a secluded town. In it, one day in the town of Midwich, every person mysteriously falls asleep. Soon, every woman capable of bearing children is found to be pregnant. They all give birth to blond children with golden eyes and a bad attitude.

The film as very successful financially, so naturally it was time for a sequel: Children of the Damned.

But the kids in the first film had been destroyed, so what to do? Following the oldest Hollywood rule regarding sequels, they decided to remake the first film with slight differences.

In this new movie, British psychologist Tom Lewellin (Ian Hendry) and geneticist David Neville (Alan Badel) are working for UNESCO looking into child development. One of their exercises takes them to young Paul Looran (Clive Powell). When given a large 3D puzzle, he completes it in about a minute while the other students being tested are still picking up pieces.

They are amazed and go to check on his parents. They meet Diana (Sheila Allen) who exudes the phrase “lower class” – undressed, unkempt and uneducated. They try to find out about his father. There is no father present. Diana obviously is scared of the boy and hates him. She agrees to let the scientists examine at him.

Meanwhile, other scientists have encountered five more children of the same age and abilities. They all are children of single mothers with no fathers present. And, like Paul, they are super smart and creepy. They can make people do anything. Paul, for example, has set Diana off to rendezvous with the front bumper a speeding truck in a dark tunnel.

The new batch of kids all solve the big puzzle in the same amount of time as Paul, down to the second. They’re brought to London through their various embassies and it’s soon discovered all six are in telepathic communication — instant communication.

But there are politics in motion. The embassies want the kids for themselves and intelligence services get involved, but the kids will have none of that. They have decided Paul’s aunt Susan (Barbara Ferris) will be there spokesperson, against her will.

They hole up in an abandoned church. Bad things befall anyone who tries to remove them. A large church pipe organ turns into a weapon. Soldiers kill each other unwillingly.

This was an OK film, not nearly as effective as the original but better than the 1995 Village remake with Christopher Reeve. I thought the political aspect was pretty shallow and the military involvement might have come from a Republic serial. There seemed to be no real thought to what the soldiers were doing or what might happen to the attackers or the civilian populace.

So, it was not bad, just not particularly good or creepy, until the events surrounding the Indian boy Rashid’s (Mahdu Mathen) killing are resolved. The final resolution of the film was weak to me. Overall, I’m glad I saw it, but I won’t watch it again without one of the creepy kids compelling me to do so.

Of course, your mileage may vary. But watch at your own risk.

Series organizer Todd Mason host Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.  

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