A peaceful, small town in Marin County, California suddenly becomes anything but when a mysterious blackout occurs, rendering all of its residents unconscious for a spell. Once the residents regain consciousness, they soon discover that ten of their female inhabitants have been impregnated. When the children are carried to term (only nine of the ten survive), it is immediately obvious that something isn’t quite right about them. The youngsters all have albino-white hair and piercing eyes. Moreover, each of them possesses an eerie ability to accurately read the thoughts of anyone in close proximity.
I don’t mean to be the guy that always complains that the remake isn’t as good as the original but in this case, that is simply the truth. The 1960 feature film on which this picture is based is better in nearly every way. However, that is not meant to say that John Carpenter’s redux is entirely without merit. The reimagining has a lot of signature Carpenter elements that will make (at least some aspects of) the film enjoyable for fans of the famed director. Although it is a remake, Village of the Damned (1995) is very much a Carpenter flick. There is a definite restraint on display here that Carpenter exercised in films like Halloween or Someone’s Watching Me! In this case, there are heinous acts of violence depicted in the flick, yet we see almost nothing and come away thinking we’ve witnessed a much more graphic and stomach-churning depiction than what we actually bear witness to. There’s also a mounting sense of dread that builds to an epic conclusion, like we see in Prince of Darkness and several other Carpenter pictures.
The main problem I have with this film is that it’s really uneventful until the third act. The finale is gripping and engrossing but the events leading up to it are fairly dull. The picture does feature a reasonable cast, most of whom were in their prime at the time of release. So, the fact that we’re spending time with people we don’t hate makes it slightly more bearable but a film shouldn’t just be bearable, it should be engrossing, entertaining, thought-provoking, and enjoyable. Unfortunately, while thought-provoking, this redux isn’t exactly engrossing, entertaining, or enjoyable until the denouement.
I will gladly take the Village of the Damned remake over pointless reboots like The Omen (2006) or Psycho (1998) but it pales in comparison to standout efforts like Dawn of the Dead (2004) or Evil Dead (2013). I will watch anything made by John Carpenter. And I’m sure I will revisit this again someday, but it’s definitely not among my favorite offerings from the director’s impressive catalogue.
As far as packaging and special features, Scream Factory is on point. As usual. The artwork is beautifully rendered and features a reversible insert that allows collectors to display either the original theatrical design or the newly commissioned artwork. The special features are plentiful. Included is a making of featurette, a tour of the filming locations, an interview with Peter Jason on John Carpenter, archival interviews, and more!
Village of the Damned (1995) is now available on Blu-ray from our friends at Scream Factory! You can pick up your copy via their website!
WICKED RATING: [usr 4]
Director(s): John Carpenter
Writer(s): John Wyndham (book), David Himmelstein
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley
Studio/ Production Co: Universal Pictures, Scream Factory!
Length: 99 minutes