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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 102: Village Of The Damned

Village Of The Damned
Pink Eye is going around that village

Oh, remakes. The bane of every horror and science fiction fan's existence. It seems like Hollywood today is filled with comic book adaptations, tween novel movies, and remakes. In the last few years we've had remakes of Black Christmas, A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Amityville Horror, The Hills Have Eyes, Prom Night, and My Bloody Valentine. That's just skimming the surface of Hollywood's “I dunno, do you have any ideas” brain-freeze. Remakes are nothing new. Since the early days of cinema, stories have been remade, re-shot, and re-imagined. Take Frankenstein for example. That story has been on the big screen in one form or another at least 30 times. But how about a remake that came out in 1995 and was directed by John Carpenter? Surely that must have been good, right? Right?!

Village of the Damned is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, which was based on the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. The movie takes place in the small coastal California town of Midwich and stars Christopher Reeve (Superman, Deathtrap) as Dr. Alan Chaffee. An unseen force sweeps over the town, rendering everyone unconscious and ten women, including Alan's wife, Barbara, mysterious pregnant. The children appear normal, but after a few years, they all being to have pale skin, white hair, steel-blue eyes, vast intelligence, and an emotionless, creepy vibe. The children are paired off, but one of the boys, David, is without a match because it died in child birth, thus giving him some emotion. It is revealed that the children have supernatural powers and are able to read people's minds. Alan's daughter, Mara, is the leader of the children, and uses her powers to make Barbara commit suicide. Dr. Susan Verner (Kirstie Alley, Cheers, Look Who's Talking) is sent by the government to study the strange phenomena and the children. She reveals that there were other groups of children with the same powers born throughout the world, but were killed when people realized they were not human. It turns out Susan kept the dead baby to study it and the children kill her. Will Alan be able to block the children from reading his thoughts and stop them before they take over the world?

I'm freaked out more by their weird clothes

This version of Village of the Damned differs from the original in a few ways, slightly altering the story a bit, but not enough so that it is drastically different. This version, though, seriously lacks in fear and scary moments. The original British version has a fun, Twilight Zone feel to it, with some old-school scares. This modern remake just kind of exists without having a real goal or direction. Sure, emotionless children that all look the same are creepy, but not scary. The story isn't very exciting and almost downright calm at certain points. There are a few decent scenes, like when the entire town passes out and when the children make the police turn their guns on themselves, but those are just small glimmers of excitement.

The biggest problem with Village of the Damned is the casting. I have no idea what they were thinking casting Kirstie Alley as the mysterious, chain-smoking government doctor. This was just two years removed from Cheers ending, so I can only imagine the reaction of audiences back then. It must have been similar to reactions of Tara Reid playing a scientist in Alone In The Dark. She tries, but she is just completely wrong for the role. Christopher Reeve fairs better, but even he feels wrong for some reason. Mark Hamill has a small role in the movie and he's always enjoyable.

"Why are we in this movie?"

Sometimes remakes are a good thing. They introduce new audiences to a great story or, with the aid of new technology, can improve a movie and make it better. Sadly, this is not the case for Village of the Damned. It's a boring movie with questionable casting and mediocre action. It's even more disappointing knowing that John Carpenter directed. Maybe he can try again in another ten years.


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