Classic British Sci/Fi Horror from the pen of John Wyndham The Midwitch Cuckoos).
Worth it for the first film alone (imo). The sequel is, although a decent film, not a patch on the first.
"One afternoon in the English village of Midwich everyone falls asleep.When they awaken some hours later it seems as if everything is normal,but soon all the women and girls of childbearing age,even those claiming to be virgins, are found to be pregnant.When they give birth the children are all strangely alike with flaxen hair and golden eyes.Soon they begin to exert a sinister control over the other villagers.
Along with The Day The Earth Caught Fire,this is a true classic of British sci-fi.A great cast,led by George Sanders and Barbara Shelley as Prof. Gordon Zellaby and his wife,Anthea,play it straight down the line and manage to overcome the casting of the,rather too obviously alien,children.As with all of John Wyndham's work, and this is taken from the novel The Midwich Cuckoos,several interesting and provocative ideas are explored,all of them still relevant today.Foremost among them,the question of how societies should react "aliens" in their midst,especially ones who are more intellectualy advanced.After all,the children are basically Homo Sapiens who find themselves living amongst Neanderthals and must struggle to survive in an atmosphere of unified hostility.
The cosy English setting and black and white photography make the film seem old fashioned in many ways,but also add to the reality and unsettling atmosphere in a way that John Carpenter's abysmal remake singularly fails to do.In a way that was possible back in 1960,but is not now,there is a naivety that permits the use of a small cast.Sanders for example plays a polymath whose expertise is accepted on just about anything scientific, and Michael Gwynn as Zellaby's army Major brother-in-law has a direct line to the top men in the War Office.As for the children's strange powers,the only special effects are a bit of business with their eyes.But all of this only improves the film by making the viewer concentrate on plot and character.
George Sanders is on top form as is Barbara Shelley and the only thing that lets the film down is the slightly pedestrian direction by Wolf Rilla.
Children Of The Damned is an altogether different matter.A poor follow up that trys to blend '60's kitchen sink drama with a new generation of alien children.It fails to advance any of the ideas from the original film and produces few new ideas of its own.It's nice to see Alan Badel and Ian Hendry in starring roles,but this is not a highpoint of either of their careers.Unlike Village Of The Damned,which draws the viewer in virtually from the opening scene,Children Of The Damned is tedious and unoriginal and soon becomes boring.
Nevertheless,this dvd is well worth buying just for Village Of The Damned,which is certainly the best film adaptation of a John Wyndham novel,primarily because it sticks to its English roots and doesn't try and Americanise it for an international audience."
Don't let the freaky front cover put you off by the way.
And available for 1p less at Amazon if you don't use Quidco