Village of the Damned

1960 movie

If you haven’t seen it:


Village of the Damned is a reasonably faithful adaptation of John Wyndham’s book “The Midwich Cuckoos.”

One day, in the small English village of Midwich, everyone (and everything) suddenly falls asleep. Several hours later, they all wake up again, and there do not seem to be any ill effects. However, it soon becomes clear that all the young women of the village have become pregnant. Aliens are suspected. Will the babies be human?



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SPOILER ALERT: The plot summary and comments below contain details that might spoil your enjoyment of the movie if you have not already seen it.



An early example of a Flash Mob

Everybody in the small English village of Midwich suddenly falls into a deep, mysterious sleep for several hours in the middle of the day. Animals, birds, and even the pilot of an aircraft flying overhead are affected. Emergency services are contacted, but they cannot help, as they cannot enter the village without falling asleep themselves. Several hours later though, as mysteriously as it started, the crisis ends, and everyone wakes up again.

Shortly afterwards, all the young women of the village discover they are pregnant. This leads to accusations of infidelity and premarital sex, but soon the extraordinary nature of the pregnancies becomes clear. All of the women give birth on the same day, and the children all have similar characteristics – blonde hair, piercing eyes, and unusual fingernails.

The children develop at an impossible speed, and we soon learn that not only are they extremely intelligent, but they have telepathic powers. They can communicate with each other through thought, and to an extent they can read other people’s minds. Furthermore, they can force people to obey their telepathic commands; they can even force people to commit suicide if they displease them.

Gordon Zellaby is the “father” of the leader of the group. At first he is determined to protect the children, and he becomes their teacher. When their evil nature becomes obvious though, he realizes he must kill them. He takes a bomb into the classroom, and tries to avoid thinking about it so that the children cannot read his mind. They do eventually break his defences down, but it is too late, and the bomb detonates, killing them all.


Trivia Trish Says:

The Midwich Cuckoos is an exciting and enjoyable novel. John Wyndham was a great writer, and his books are loved by the sort of people who do not usually read science-fiction. As well as The Midwich Cuckoos, he also wrote The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes, and the underrated Trouble with Lichen. His technique is to introduce one sci-fi element into an otherwise realistic world, and write about the impact that element has. He writes so convincingly, and pays such attention to detail, that you find yourself believing that it could all happen.

“The Midwich Cuckoos” is a great title too – cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, tricking these other birds into raising their young. Naturally then, when Hollywood came to make a film version, they dropped the title and went with “Village of the Damned” instead, which is uninspired and actually pretty misleading.

Apart from the title, I like this film. It’s good to see George Sanders in a leading role, and the creepy alien children are great.


The eyes have it


Steve Sunday Says:

Village of the Damned was on TV the other day. Just before it started, the announcer warned us that “some viewers might find certain scenes upsetting.” Now, I have never found this type of warning useful – it needs to be more specific. Some viewers? What sort of viewers exactly? Some viewers are upset by harsh language, I am not one of those. Some viewers get upset by anachronisms in period dramas … well, okay, I am one of those, but I know for sure that you do not get warned about these in advance; if you did then the recent BBC drama The Tudors would have been preceded by flashing lights, sirens going off, and disclaimers that you must watch at your own risk. Anyway, when Village of the Damned started, I realized the movie was actually the inferior 1995 remake, and yes, I was upset. I believe that the warning announcement should have been “viewers who tuned in expecting to see a classic piece of quintessentially English early science fiction cinema will find the whole movie upsetting.”


Main Cast and Crew:

George Sanders…Gordon Zellaby
Barbara Shelley…Anthea Zellaby
Martin Stephens…David Zellaby
Michael Gwynn…Alan Bernard
Directed by Wolf Rilla


Zellaby realised that he had told one “blonde” joke too many