Friday, October 30, 2015


I watched CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED (1964) for the first time this afternoon and really enjoyed it.The film recently ran on TCM and I recorded it for a rainy day viewing, which turned out to be today. I've seen and enjoyed the previous film, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1960) several times before. But CHILDREN, despite some thematic similarities, is not so much a sequel as a completely different take on the concept of hyper intelligent mutant children (shades of X-MEN!)

Six children, all from different countries, exhibit both extraordinary, off -the-charts IQs, along with telepathic powers and a shared, hive mind. The children are from the UK, the US, Nigeria, India, China and the USSR. Science, of course, in the form of psychologist Tom Lewellin (Ian Hendry) and geneticist David Neville (Alan Badel) want to study the youngsters while British intelligence officer Colin Webster (Alfred Burke) wants to take them all into protected custody and eventually destroy them. The children are clearly seen as a threat to the worldwide balance of power, a weapon which no country should be allowed to possess.

But the children have, you'll pardon the expression, a mind of their own. They take up residence in a ruined church where they set up their own little community. They turn violent only when violence is used against them. Government agents and other men are killed by the children when they attack the church and one of the children is killed. Goaded into action and in an effort to protect themselves from further assaults, the children all visit their respective embassies and cause ambassadors and other officials to kill each other.

Things finally come to a head when the British government decides enough is enough and order a heavily armed assault on the church. The children display a surprise trump card which puts them in an entirely new light but it's too late as disaster befalls them in the climax of the film.

CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED is a thoughtful, compelling little science fiction film that plays more like a Cold War thriller than hard SF. The stark black and white cinematography by David Boulton gives the film a noir atmosphere while the direction by Anton Leader and the screenplay by John Briley are both solid.

Once curious note. Much of the exterior action in the film takes place on the inexplicably deserted streets of London. It doesn't matter if it's day or night, there are no other vehicles or people to be seen in any of the exterior shots. It's as if the apocalypse as already happened and no one, the scientists and military brass or the children, are aware of it.

CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED is a good little science fiction film that stands on it's own merits. Recommended.

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