When The Village of the Damned hit the cinemas in 1995, the remake of the horror film of the same name from 1960 flopped. Worse still, the flick was even nominated for the Golden Raspberry in 1996 in the “Worst Remake or Sequel” category.

Although The Village of the Damned is not exactly one of the great films by director John Carpenter, the film about the creepy children at least made some money in the home theater market and even has a certain cult factor.

The Blu-ray version released in 2015 is now out of print and is being sold on the used market at steep prices. So it’s no wonder that Koch Films has now released a new version in a limited steelbook. We watched John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned again and tell you whether the picture and sound quality are satisfactory, as well as whether the film itself has aged gracefully.




John Carpenter's The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (3)



John Carpenter’s The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (3)

Source: Koch Films




Superman vs. horror





John Carpenters The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (6)



John Carpenters The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (6)

Source: Koch Films




The residents of the small town of Midwich are actually looking forward to a festival, but a mysterious power falls over them and puts all people and animals within the city limits into a six-hour sleep. The doctor Dr. Alan Chaffee (Christopher Reeves) then discovered that an unusually large number of women were impregnated on the very day of the mysterious slumber. His own wife is also affected.

After all, all pregnant women give birth on the same day and the children all bear an uncanny resemblance. But that’s not all: The strange offspring grow incredibly quickly and have inhuman powers with which they make the adults docile and read their minds.

When the children no longer shy away from murder, the residents of Midwich decide to take action against the brood, but of course the evil cuckoo children are not so easy to put up with.

Carpenter on the wrong track

The Village of the Damned isn’t a bad movie. The premise of the weird creepy kids holding a small town hostage still works well, and some scenes in the film actually get under your skin. For long stretches, however, the strip is pretty barren and therefore never really creepy. In the good moments you can feel the handwriting of old John Carpenter.

For example, the cult director knows how to stage mysterious sleep with eerie calm. He dispenses with unnecessary frills, but lets the uncanny events speak for themselves. The gruesome murder of one of the city dwellers is so well implemented that the viewer shares the moral dilemma of the characters in the film: They are only small children, but they are absolutely evil and should actually be eliminated.





John Carpenter's The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (1)



John Carpenter’s The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (1)

Source: Koch Films




However, these moments are far too rare, because most of the time you get the burned-out 90s carpenter, who is marked by numerous flops and problems with the studio system in Hollywood. So the film is partially lacking focus.

The story wanders here and there and fails to give the characters depth. In Der Nebel, Carpenter once showed very well that he knows how a film can be carried more by an ensemble than by clear protagonists, but in The Village of the Damned he fails because of this.

The only character with a little profile is Dr. Alan Chaffee. However, Reeve sometimes seems awkward, as if he hadn’t received clear directing instructions for his role. In general, The Village of the Damned seems like a clear commissioned work, since the film lacks the attention to detail that is so typical for Carpenter and the feeling for the reaction of the audience.





John Carpenter's The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (4)



John Carpenter’s The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (4)

Source: Koch Films




As great as Carpenter was able to stage small roles in many of his films, here he doesn’t succeed at all. Even Mark Hamill, who is also playing in the role of a priest, remains pale. The scene in which a woman is forced by one of the cuckoo children to put her arm in a pot of boiling soup is particularly bad. It’s supposed to be scary, but it’s involuntarily weird.

Still, The Village of the Damned is far from a disaster like Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars. The film often babbles a little and some things don’t work as they should or you are used to it from Carpenters cult films.

But you are always rewarded with great scenes in which the former master director shines through, who staged Halloween, The Fog or The Thing from Another World.




John Carpenter's The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (2)



John Carpenter’s The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (2)

Source: Koch Films




Not a big extra sausage

The sound and picture quality of the Blu-ray are mostly very good. At first the picture is a bit gritty in a few moments, but generally the film convinces with clear pictures and rich colors. You can still clearly see the age of the strip.

Carpenter usually produced quite cheaply. In the 80s he was able to hide it well, but in the 90s it often made his works look like cheap TV productions. That is why there is never any blockbuster quality in The Village of the Damned either.

Of course, the Blu-ray cannot change that. Still, the movie now looks better than ever. However, the few extras are a bit disappointing. Only a trailer, a few featurettes and a short making-of are on the disc. Here one should have expected more from a new publication. Nevertheless, the Steelbook naturally belongs in every collection of a real Carpenter fan.

Conclusion

The horror flick was not one of Carpenter’s masterpieces back then and nowadays you will notice even more disturbing elements. Nevertheless, the premise is still convincing and some scenes then bear the signature of the cult director. Hardcore horror film collectors and Carpenter fans grab it, the rest prefer to watch Das Ding aus Another World again.

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John Carpenter’s The Village of the Damned: The Blu-ray Remake Tested (1) [Quelle: Koch Films]

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