John Carpenter's Village of the Damned


John Carpenter Village of the damned
If you're going to do a remake of a sci-fi/horror classic you couldn't find a better man for the job than JOHN CARPENTER. CARPENTER's THE THING is arguably the best remake of all time and the go to answer when questioning whether "reimaginings" should even exists. But let's face it, even God himself has his off days and although J.C.'s VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED has a few good moments, it's certainly a far cry from the master's best work. The set up works great and fans will immediately recognize and feel at home with the same gorgeous coastal surroundings he took advantage of in THE FOG. As in that film, we are introduced to a large group of interlapping characters that are about to be confronted with an outside force whose intentions are at first shrouded in mystery. Much like his approach to THE THING, Carpenter returns to the original story the film was based on (in this case, JOHN WYNDHAM's THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS) for inspiration whenever he can. A priest character deemed too sacrilegious to appear in the 1960 telling is finally represented here. He even makes attempts to conquer the first film's major criticism of shirking the female perspective on events all to no avail. Sadly, as soon as the first badly wigged baby appears, all these good intentions go up in smoke. This film hinges on the creep factor provided by the children, but rather than deliver chills these kids deliver guffaws. It's not simply because the iconic white hair does not translate well to color film, it becomes exceedingly clear that without the commanding power of a child actor like the original's MARTIN STEPHENS the whole house of cards crumbles. It doesn't help that the film jumps about franticly, never allowing the more interesting elements to congeal and instead routinely lingers on the inconsequential, or that the adult cast with the possible exception of the suspiciously BARBEAU-esgue MERIDITH SALINGER fade into the woodwork. There are still plenty of CARPENTER hallmarks about to keep you from completely losing interest, from his usual full use of the widescreen to the out of date yet still effective musical cues. If this was any other director, I would probably devour this movie's constant camp insanity but considering the potential of the material and the genius behind the wheel, this interesting failure's dull glow truly disappoints.
indelible scenes

  • STREETS OF FIRE fans beware MICHAEL PARE's screen time here is shorter than a FIRE INC. song!
  • Man falls asleep on open grill
  • CHRISTOPER REEVE (in his last role before his accident) and David (THOMAS DEKKER) chat in the cemetery under rolling clouds. Where's the rest of THIS movie?
  • Jedi mind tricks force MARK HAMILL to blow his brains out!
  • Rather than drive into a brick wall as in the original, hapless PETER JASON hits a poorly placed fuel tank DUKES OF HAZZARD style!


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14 years ago

Why did I think that Kirstie Alley was in this movie?  I love Carpenter – but this flick and "The Prince of Darkness".  UGH. 

Amanda Mullins
Amanda Mullins
5 years ago

Kirstie Alley is in this movie…