I like John Carpenter. This is a movie I missed when it came out. I knew it existed but somehow, I didn't know he directed it. We threw this on and while I had fun watching it, there were a lot of problems with it.
I haven't seen the original since I was a kid so maybe they're pretty close but the biggest issues come from a lack of explanation. The children are portrayed as emotionless but if that's true, why torture their victims and not simply kill them? This builds a sense of 'wickedness' that's contrary to the narrative.
The basic concept is that in a small town, every person passes out one day. They wake up six hours later only to find that ten of the women are pregnant. One of them's even a virgin. The build up to this story is great. It establishes the people, the town, what's going on...there's even some decent menace.
What breaks it down is when they have to start fast forwarding time. It's done poorly and likely due to budget, they didn't do anything to the actors to age them. The first stage is determining what to do about the children at a town hall meeting.
Then, the women are quite pregnant. The children are born. It all happens quick enough to make your head spin, and since none of the actors look any different at all (no beards, no change of hair color from stress) and only a couple throwaway lines, it's hard to embrace just how much time has passed.
I can't say how old the children are when the action REALLY starts. 10, 11...it's hard to say. But some of the events that transpire would've happened long before that point. Plus, it feels like the kids go from toddlers to age 10/11 instantly--and I say that because people act like they've never tried to teach them some humanity.
This brings me to the real problem with the story. They keep talking about how they lack empathy, lack humanity, don't care...but they sure are vengeful. Everyone dies in 'accidents' which are absolutely horrible. This quickly does away with any sense that they're logic based monsters and just straight evil.
But their explanation of themselves defies that. They claim to be in it for survival. But hey, it's a 1995 horror movie. I'm not sure how deep I expected it to go.
Mark Hamill overacts in a MAJOR way in this movie. Not sure why he had to go there but it was fun to watch. Christopher Reeve actually did a great job. This was just before the accident that put him in the chair for the rest of his life.
One stand out was Linda Kozlowski from Crocodile Dundee. Took me a few minutes to recognize her, but she was great as the principal of the school. Kirstie Alley played the amoral federal scientist to great effect as well. The people showed up, the movie didn't.
John Carpenter admitted that the movie was made due to contractual obligation and that he didn't have a lot of passion for the project. It's fairly obvious. There's a tone of apathy from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the movie suffered a huge loss at the box office and ruined his chance to remake Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Maybe if he would've thrown some more of himself into this one, we would've seen that one.
Regardless, much as I enjoyed watching Village of the Damned, I'm glad it was on Starz and that I didn't buy it. I can't see throwing it on again.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.
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