Featured The Classic Era

Village of the Damned (1960) – Episode 12 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“People, especially children, aren’t measured by their IQ. What’s important about them is whether they’re good or bad, and these children are bad.” Whether they’re bad children or the misunderstood vanguard of an alien race, the children of Midwich serve as the antagonists in Village of the Damned, a chilling tale of science fiction and horror. Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we take a closer look at these odd children, their freakishly high foreheads, and their funky eyes.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 12 — Village of the Damned (1960)

Based on John Wyndham’s novel, The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), Village of the Damned tells the story of the village of Midwich as it is beset by a series of strange, connected events. As these events unfold, every woman of a child-bearing age in Midwich gives birth to strangely similar children. As the children age at an accelerated rate, they develop strange powers and foster a growing sense of fear and foreboding within the village residents.

Directed by Wolf Rilla, who also co-authored the screenplay with Stirling Silliphant and Ronald Kinnoch (as George Barclay), Village of the Damned stars Barbara Shelley and George Sanders as Mrs. and Professor Zellaby, the lead couple. Their son David is played by Martin Stephens while all the children as toddlers are played by an uncredited Kim Clarke Champniss. Michael Gwynn as Major Alan Bernard, and Laurence Naismith as Doctor Willers, provide able support. There is also a brief appearance by Richard Vernon that holds special significance for Jeff.

Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: Why do these odd-looking children elicit such horror from adults? What does A Hard Day’s Night (1964) or Fawlty Towers (1975) have to do with Village of the Damned? How does the film differ from John Wyndham’s book? What’s the connection between Village of the Damned and The Death Wheelers (1973) aka Psychomania (Decades of Horror 1970s – Episode 49)? How did the filmmakers find kids with such high foreheads? Once again, our film has a connection to the Batman and I Love Lucy TV-series. What are those connections this time? What are the two connections Ronald Colman has to Village of the Damned? Originally planned as a U.S. production, why was production switched to MGM British Studios? How does this 1960 production compare with the 1994 production directed by John Carpenter?

We also read some feedback on Episode 8: Freaks (1932) from Saltyessentials (check out his blog, Dead Man’s Brain) and Mike Hatfield. Thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to comment!

As always, if you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these comments:

  • “De monical? Is that the thing Mr. Peanut wears on his eye?”
  • “Hey, I’ve watched wrestling enough to tell the difference between natural blondes and unnatural blondes.”
  • Maneater of Hydra screams, ‘Leeroy Jenkins!’ and goes dashing into battle when it comes to that particular crown (as strangest science fiction story ever told).”
  • “Creepy children are infinitely creepier when they’re in packs and when they have British accents.”
  • “They all look the same to me. They’re all blonde children with similar haircuts.”
  • “Wigmaster 2: The Weaving!”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming and very flexible schedule includes The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Jû jin yuki otoko (original 1955 Japanese version, aka Half Human).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about thefilms we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for Horrornews.net and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.