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This review originally appeared in issue 13 of THE CINEMA LASER.


John Carpenter's VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED ($35) is a worthwhile re­make of the science fiction classic and a great way to introduce a new audience to the old story, but I'm still quite partial to the original which starred George Sanders.

Christopher Reeve stars in the re­make, and let me start off by saying his hair has got to be the worst special effect in the movie. I remember sitting across from Reeve on a NYC subway train a few years ago, and noticing how grey his hair had become. Let me tell you, grey would have been a hell of a lot better than the orange­brown polyester wig look he sports for this film. His hair looks so bad that it's actually distracting. Personally, I really like Christopher Reeve, and was glad to see him developing into one of America's finest character actors. I certainly hope that he will make a complete recovery from the accident that stopped short his career.

The story of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED centers in the town of Midwich, an isolated California community. One day, a strange force causes everyone in the town to be rendered unconscious for a period of several hours. Everyone recovers from the strange occurrence, but it is soon discovered that every woman of childbearing age has suddenly become pregnant. This causes the government to step in to observe both the pregnancies and the development of the children. Kirstie Alley chain smokes her way through the role of government doctor in charge of the Midwich situation. As one might have guessed, the Midwich children are even stranger than the strange phenomena that caused their conception. All are flaxen haired with telepathic powers which allow them to eliminate anyone who displeases them. Director John Carpenter has chosen a good group of child actors for the roles of the outer space bad seeds. They all outwardly appear angelic, but are cold calculating creatures that treat the adults as though they were laboratory animals. Industrial Light and Magic have created some nice special effects which greatly enhance the otherworldliness of the children. The cast of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED also includes Linda Kozlowski, Mark Hamill and Michael Pare.

MCA/Universal has given VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED a nice Letterboxed transfer which almost fully restores the Panavision aspect ratio. VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED is a good looking film and the transfer only serves to enhance cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe's fine work. The image is sharp, colors are vivid, and film grain is minimal. The digitally encoded surround soundtrack is effective, but the mix is unimaginative. The Pioneer pressing had a modest amount of speckles. Unfortunately, MCA/Universal has not bothered to include any extras with this disc. John Carpenter has supplied an audio commentary to every one of his films released on Laserdisc within the last year, and I am sure that MCA/Universal could have gotten him for this release if they tried.

VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED is a solid performing science fiction film that John Carpenter's fans will want to add to their collections.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright © 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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