Welcome back to another tantalizing edition of Get Rekt – the show all your friends are talking about! Today, I’m going to score my 10th favourite movie of 1960, the chilling horror classic Village Of The Damned! Adapted only a few years after John Wyndham’s novel, the excellently named Wolf Rilla introduced us to creepy kids and mind-walls. It’s my favourite screen version of the story, but I’ve always felt it could be updated with more potency.
Sales: 3: The film made a profit – not a tidy profit, but a profit nonetheless. I’m sure it has made more money over the years with video and DVD sales, but it wouldn’t be classed as any more than a cult hit from a financial perspective.
Chart: 3: Similar to the category above, the film performed well enough for a low budget film wherever it was released.
Critical Consensus: 5: By and large the film has been positively received since release. There have been sequels and remakes but this remains the definitive version. Nowadays it may not be as effective for modern audiences because so much time has passed – but show this to a younger audience today and it still works. New critics coming to the movie with fresh eyes tend to lavish plenty of praise upon it.
Director: 4: I’m tempted to just give high marks for Wolf Rilla’s name. Rilla’s background in Television perhaps adds to the low-fi documentary style approach, which in turns aids the murky, stroll through a graveyard at night aura, and his decision to make the film more grounded in English culture certainly helps add a touch of realism. Often mistaken for a Hammer production, it does have certain connotations with that School, but takes a less grandiose approach to its scares. It’s short, effective, punchy, and with enough paranoia and subtext for critics to break it down and analysis.
Performances: 4: An admirable British cast of lesser known familiar faces serve their purpose – from paranoid husbands to increasingly terrified mothers, and of course a range of creepy kids. Some of the performances seem a little hokey now but I enjoy the majority of the cast.
Music: 3: Ron Goodwin’s most famous works are of course for his War films, but the score for Village Of The Damned is suitably incessant and mysterious. It’s reminiscent to me of the music used in the original Twilight Zone series – sudden swells of strings, wavering bell and key sounds, and throbbing brass.
Cinematography: 4: While there isn’t anything obviously impressive going on, again its the holistic approach to the filming – the pastoral countryside and idyllic spaces becoming blocked up in the minds of the inhabitants, the suggestion of a perfect world hiding monsters in plain sight. The opening and closing sequences are the highlights – the sudden collapse of a village without explanation, and an explosion putting to bed the niceties of the 50s as the world topples into a new uncertain future.
Writing: 3: The dialogue serves the narrative but there’s precious little memorable dialogue here, and there are some concessions made for US audiences which takes the British viewer out of the story momentarily – language which wouldn’t be used in an English town. It’s the overall idea and execution where the screenplay’s strength lies, but the majority of the credit must go to the original text.
Wardrobe: 4: It’s all authentic, and the vision of the kids in their quaint, mature suits, when coupled with their hair and juxtaposed with the rural attire of their families which heightens their otherness.
Editing: 4: Gripping and effective, especially in the scenes of violence, action, and in the final encounter as David tried to break down his ‘father’s’ mental wall.
Make up and Hair: 4: Great work in these departments to make sure that the kids are some of the creepiest and most iconic ever seen on screen.
Effects: 4: From flashing eyes to crashing cars and explosions, there’s a fair amount of effects work for a small budget film which few expected to perform as well as it did. I could take a 3 on this, but I think the work is more than competent.
Art and Set: 3: Filmed in Studio but also on location, both give an accurate portrayal of quaint English life shaken by the big bad outside world.
Sound: 3: Nothing noteworthy.
Cultural Significance: 4: The film is maybe more well remembered now than the book. The film led to a sequel, a remake, a TV series, and any number of references in everything from The Simpsons to Silent Hill.
Accomplishment: 4: The film was made for chills and unnerving scares, and it succeeds. Again, it’s not as impactful now as it would have been then, but we can hardly discredit those involved for that.
Stunts: 3: The few main stunt sequences are handled well.
Originality: 4. The book was written in Sci-Fi’s modern Golden Age – the time of Nuclear and Alien fears, and both are discussed. The film is another straight enough adaptation and while it’s not the first movie with creepy kids or paranoia caused by creatures from outer space or Science gone rogue, it’s one of the most effective.
Miscellaneous: 3: Nothing much to add here – the trailer is standard for the time, and the posters are fun.
Personal: 5: I’ve always loved unnerving, atmospheric films where the main characters have zero clue what is happening. With this being one I saw many moons ago and having an impact, there’s a nostalgic bias on my behalf. Watching with well versed eyes it’s clear to see how potent and taut it remains given the constraints on budget and technology.
Kidz! Kidz!! This movie has scary kidz, fighting against authority! Why wouldn’t you want to watch it?!? Having seen the ‘low’ score which Les Enfants Terribles received, 74 seems accurate. It’s going to be difficult for any movie to get into the mid 80s I would say. Let us know in the commentz what your take on the movie is, and share your score breakdown! Get Rekt!