{jatabs type="content" position="top" height="auto" skipAnim="true" mouseType="click" animType="animFade"}

[tab title="Movie Review"]

Village of the Damned (1995) - Blu-ray Review


3 beersBecause, you know, it takes a village FULL of idiots to help make and then TAKE a movie away from John Carpenter WHILE he's editing it.

John Carpenter's Village of the Damned is due for some appreciation. While no one can argue that Carpenter's best output was during the 13-year run following his 1976 debut, too many of his latter films – especially those released during the 1990s – got hen-pecked to death by the print critics of the era or simply ignored by the fans. It's about time someone stand up and try to offer some new perspective into what was largely dismissed and, with the arrival of Scream Factory's release of Village of the Damned this week, it might be best to start there with the film that advised us to beware the children.

If only I could. Truth is, Village of the Damned is still an eyesore. Released mere months after In the Mouth of Madness, there's actually a story behind its general wonkiness. Thankfully. Because Carpenter-for-Hire directing is fairly underwhelming.

Okay, so first thing is first, it was a contract assignment. This remake was a "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" offer from Universal. They wanted a new Village of the Damned to get made. Carpenter wanted to remake Creature from the Black Lagoon. A deal was made. He directs this one for them and they help him with his revisit of Creature from the Black Lagoon ... except Universal never held up their end of the bargain and wound up taking the movie AWAY from Carpenter while he was editing it together. Nice.

Starring Christopher Reeve (in his last performance before the accident that rendered him a quadriplegic) and Kirstie Alley as a government scientist, John Carpenter's take on Village of the Damned is a somewhat uneven slice of big-government paranoid-filling pie that effectively creeps out its viewers and throws into question the town's allegiances. Watching the government descend into the town of Midwich, California after a mysterious force renders the entire town unconscious is a bit disturbing. While the government conspiracy is quickly dropped as the supernatural forces causing the women in the town to give birth to rapidly maturing children spreads throughout the village, that doesn't make Carpenter's reimagining any less tense.

The original film is a classic of the genre. You'll never hear me utter one word to the contrary and, yes, this script – doctored by one scalpel too many in the David Himmelstein, Steven Siebert, and Larry Sulkis triage – has too many characters in it for its own good BUT that doesn't keep it from offering some pretty spooky-ass kids to terrorize us with. I mean, damn, that bleach blonde hair (not wigs, people, not wigs) and glowing eyes is permanently CEMENTED into my nightmares. While none of the kids have gone on to do anything to great since the film, Sandy King's casting work here is exemplary. That fact, alongside cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe's widescreen work, presents a film that can't easily be dismissed. One could argue that Carpenter wasn't into it IF the supplemental material didn't suggest otherwise.

Co-starring Linda Kozlowski, Michael Pare, Meredith Salenger and Mark Hamill as the town's minister, the film's uneven handling of the characters is certainly not the fault of the talented cast. All too frequently, characters drop in and out of focus which only adds to the challenges of this re-telling. But, by changing the location to San Francisco and adding more female characters, Carpenter does contemporize much of the source material, adding a depth not present in the original. This, alongside scenes where the children force adults to kill themselves, makes this one hard to ignore.

With his Panavision frame in check and his synth score – aided by the New Age guitar noodlings of Dave Davies. Lead guitarist of The Kinks – present, John Carpenter's Village of the Damned is definitely worth a revisit...just don't stay there too long.


[tab title="Film Details"]

Village of the Damned (1995) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R for some sci-fi terror and violence.
99 mins
: John Carpenter
Stirling Silliphant
Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski
: Horror | Sci-fi
Beware the children.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Something very strange is happening to all of us... you know, they say the Roberts girl is a virgin."
Universal Pictures
Official Site: http://www.theofficialjohncarpenter.com/
Release Date:
April 28, 1995
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 12, 2016
Synopsis: A small town's women give birth to unfriendly alien children posing as humans.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

Village of the Damned (1995) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 12, 2016
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Scream Factory updates Universal's DVD transfer with a new 1080p presentation. This release features the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is nice. While full of some nice widescreen shots, the overall detail and clarity are solid and should not be overlooked when showing this release some appreciation. Black levels are clean throughout. Colors are good, too. There is a nice layer of natural grain that gets heavier at night but, overall, this is a good-looking release. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is sufficient to showcase both dialogue and Carpenter's atmospheric soundtrack.



  • None

Special Features:

Scream Factory piles on so many NEW featurettes that they make this release of a subpar flick a genuine MUST-OWN blu-ray. And, truth be told, that's why I love the company's efforts. Up first is a new making of featurette entitled It Takes a Village. What is revealed throughout this interview with Sandy King and John Carpenter and the cast of kids is some seriously strong stuff. But it is the career retrospective 45-minute interview with Carpenter regular Peter Jason that might interest fans more. The guy is awesome and it shows in almost every response he gives. Complete with new artwork and a new episode of Horror's Haunted Grounds, this release is worth owning...even if it is only for the supplemental items.

  • It Takes A Village: The Making Of John Carpenter's Village of the Damned (49 min)
  • Horror's Hallowed Ground (21 min)
  • The Go To Guy: Peter Jason On John Carpenter (45 min)
  • Vintage Interviews and Behind-The-Scenes (25 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery


[tab title="Trailer"]