Monday, October 29, 2018

Children of the Damned

Clive Powell as Paul.
Children of the Damned (1964) is not a sequel to the 1960 science fiction classic Village of the Damned, but rather a rethinking. That's a good thing for the most part, as I'm not sure where a sequel could have gone. The second film takes the original's themes and extrapolates them to a global scale.

The subject once again is a group of super-intelligent children who appear to threaten the existence of the human race. Whereas Village of the Damned explored this theme in a social microcosm (a small English village), Children takes place in London and focuses on a group of super-children from various countries. Ian Hendry and Alan Badel played a pair of scientists who "discover" Paul, a British youngster who becomes the children's leader when six of them band together in a deserted church.

Alan Badel and Ian Hendry.
Initially, Hendry and Badel's characters work together to protect the gifted children from those who would use them for nefarious purposes. But Badel eventually concludes that the world is not ready for such intelligent beings and the unpleasant reality is that they must be destroyed. Hendry, though, remains optimistic that a compromise can be reached and the children's true purpose uncovered.

I'm not sure why screenwriter John Briley (Gandhi) goes out of his way not to reference the events in Village of the Damned. It could be the hint that alien forces had something to do with the unexplained pregnancies in the first film. In Children, the implication is that the youngsters are simply humans who have somehow skipped ahead several generations. Of course, that still doesn't explain how the children were conceived without fathers.

Like The Day the Earth Stood Still, religious references dominate the film. The children have no human fathers, they eventually "live" in a church, and one of them is apparently resurrected from the dead. In the film's climax, Paul reveals that the children are there to save mankind by dying. These elements enrich the film, though one wishes that they would have been explored more fully. (There are rumors of a slightly longer ending that provides more clarity.)

Barbara Ferris with children in the background.
Children of the Damned is a better film than I remembered and it holds interest throughout. However, it's missing the emotional power of Village of the Damned and ultimately remains a footnote to one of the 1960s best science fiction movies.

4 comments:

  1. In a similar vein - the best of these 'children" films - in my opinion, is "These are the Damned"

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    1. It's a very good movie, but very different from these two.

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  2. I could never get into this film, but now that I've read your thoughts on it, I'll give it another go.

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  3. I like this movie more than the first one, Village of the Damned.

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