As the spirits of “”All Hallow’s Eve” creep closer and closer, it brings to mind the very first time I was truly scared! The kind of scared where, when it’s time for bed, you leave your bedroom door open just a crack, check under your bed for God knows what, and are certain you see something moving in the dim shadows from the nightlight right next to you! And, of course you have to take one last peek out your bedroom window, just to be SURE! Yeah, that kind of scared! It was on a chilly December afternoon in 1960 when my little brother Robbie and I took the mile long hike down to our local “bijou,” The Eagle Theater In Eagle Rock California, to see MGM’’s latest feature which critic’s and reviewers were claiming will reach a new level of horror! But, by 1960, both Robbie and I felt like we were veterans of The Horror Genre. We had front row seats for “The Blob” ( Starring a young Steve McQueen,, 1958) We laughed our way thru “I was a Teenage Werewolf” ( starring a young Michael Landon, “Little Joe” from “Bonanza, 1957) and giggled all thru the constant re-runs of“The Thing” (Starring a young James Arness, who played Marshal Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke, 1951)
But, on that cold Winter afternoon, Brother Rob and I weren’t prepared for “The Village Of The Damned” Filmed entirely in MGM’s U. K. studios and actual local villages out and around London, The Village Of The Damned was a dark, demonic look into “pure evil” Filmed In “Glorious Black and White, which only added to the Erie foreboding of what we were about to witness!
But what resonated deepest and stayed with us to this very day was the way the film personified pure evil in the form of beautifully innocent school children speaking the “Queens English” with angelic faces!, masking their murderous and evil intentions! The stunning juxtaposition simply scared the “Spit” out of us! And still does!
The true intentions or “end game” of these ‘naughty’ psychic boys and girls was never made entirely clear, but one thing was for certain: If you ever opposed or angered them, they’d look deep into your eyes and as their angelic eye’s began to take on an intense glow, they would telepathically convince you to commit unthinkably horrendous acts of evil. One such disobedient soul was forced to put a shotgun to his chin and pull the trigger! Another was convinced to drive their car straight into a brick wall at 100 mph! Quite simply, you didn’t “F” with the children of the Damned.
To share much more about this classic British masterpiece of Gothic Horror, would be an unfair spoiler for those of you who haven’t seen this brilliant film, but if you’re a fan of the genre, and specifically the works of M. Night Shyamalan (which often seem to include creepy children), who was most certainly inspired by The Village Of The Damned, you will love this movie and it WILL “Scare the b’Jesus out of you”
However, for the bean counters among us, the budget for “Village” was a hefty $320,000 with the Box Office raking in $2,175,000! Yes! The Village Of The Damned was a very scary and a very successful movie! One final insider note about this movie: Veteran actor Ronald Coleman was originally cast as the lead in the film, but he unexpectedly passed away just months before production was to begin. He was replaced by British character actor George Sanders who had coincidentally? Just married Coleman’s widow! Does that sound weird to you too?
To this day, my “Little Brother Robbie” and I are still having nightmares, checking under the bed and seeing glowing eye’s in the dark! Lastly 27 years ago I was blessed with a son. He was born with angelic features, piercing blue eyes, a head of beautiful blonde hair and an unusual masterly grasp of language very early on! As he grew up, he would occasionally awake in the middle of the night, wander into his parents bedroom, stand at the foot of the bed and in the dim shadow’s of the tiny nightlight, softly say “Father I need to talk with you…” YIKES! The Village Of The Damned is the gift that just keeps on giving!
Enjoy a look and listen to Ron Goodwin’s dark / eerie score, it alone, is another frightening dynamic to this very frightening film.
But now dear reader we’d like to focus on you and your experience: Have you seen “The Village Of The Damned? Did it scare you “Spit less” as it did Robbie and I ? Or is there another Horror Flick that holds a dark place in your heart and mind? Please share your personal experience and demons!
Happy Halloween from Sixties Music Secrets…