John Carpenter’s Village Of The Damned Gets A Damn Fine Blu-ray Update
If there’s one thing John Carpenter’s 1982 take on The Thing proved, it’s that great films can actually be remade into even greater ones. A liberal reinterpretation of Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World (which was a liberal reinterpretation of author John W. Campbell’s short story, Who Goes There), The Thing is one of the most innovative and terrifying genre films ever made.
13 years later, Carpenter gave us another retelling of a sci-fi/horror classic (Wolf Rilla’s 1960 spooker, Village of the Damned), only this time sticking much closer to the original. 1995’s Village of the Damned opens with a chilling scenario in which all the citizens in small Californian town fall unconscious for several hours, and miraculously become pregnant several months later. Soon after the babies are born, they begin to show unusual behaviour, like sporting the same platinum hair and dress code—and also the ability to read and possess others’ minds. After a series of fatal accidents caused by the children, a pair of doctors (Christopher Reeve, in his last role before his life-changing accident, and Kirstie Alley) attempt to put an end to the horror.
While nowhere near as mind-blowing as any of Carpenter’s previous horror masterpieces, Village of the Damned merits viewing for any horror buff. On the whole, it’s clearly flawed, but what the film lacks in actual scares, it makes up for with eerie atmosphere. There are plenty of memorable visual cues that recall Carpenter gems like Halloween and The Fog. Unsurprisingly, Scream Factory’s Blu-ray offers rock-solid a/v and bountiful extras even the most casual Carpenter fan will enjoy.
Starting with the best, the near-hour-long It Takes a Village: The Story of John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned features anecdotes from a huge array of cast and crew, including Carpenter, wife/producer Sandy King, and a handful of those creepy kids, one of whom (Thomas Dekker) grew up to play John Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Plenty of ground is covered, including what it was like to work with Reeve and Mark Hamill (who plays a ticked-off Reverend), what the film could’ve been if Carpenter had more editing time, and arguably the funniest/saddest bit, how painful and traumatizing it was for the youngsters to have their hair bleached. Nope, those weren’t wigs.
Equally appealing is The Go To Guy: Peter Jason on John Carpenter, a 20-minute one-on-one interview with co-star Peter Jason, who’s appeared in several Carpenter films between 1987’s Prince of Darkness and 2011’s Ghosts of Mars. Scream Factory collectors should be pleased to see Sean Clark’s Horror’s Hallow Grounds makes an appearance on this disc. Like previous instalments from his recurring series, it takes us to the film’s shooting location, in this case Inverness, California. Lastly, we’re treated to 25 minutes of vintage interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, a still gallery of set photos and marketing materials, and the film’s theatrical trailer, which you can watch below.