[Podcast] Village of the Damned (1960) – Episode 12 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“People, especially children, aren’t measured by their IQ. What’s important about them is whether they’re good or bad, and these children are bad.” Whether they’re bad children or the misunderstood vanguard of an alien race, the children of Midwich serve as the antagonists in Village of the Damned, a chilling tale of science fiction and horror. Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we take a closer look at these odd children, their freakishly high foreheads, and their funky eyes.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 12 – Village of the Damned (1960)

Based on John Wyndham’s novel, The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), Village of the Damned tells the story of the village of Midwich as it is beset by a series of strange, connected events. As these events unfold, every woman of a child-bearing age in Midwich gives birth to strangely similar children. As the children age at an accelerated rate, they develop strange powers and foster a growing sense of fear and foreboding within the village residents.

Directed by Wolf Rilla, who also co-authored the screenplay with Stirling Silliphant and Ronald Kinnoch (as George Barclay), Village of the Damned stars Barbara Shelley and George Sanders as Mrs. and Professor Zellaby, the lead couple. Their son David is played by Martin Stephens while all the children as toddlers are played by an uncredited Kim Clarke Champniss. Michael Gwynn as Major Alan Bernard, and Laurence Naismith as Doctor Willers, provide able support. There is also a brief appearance by Richard Vernon that holds special significance for Jeff.

Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: Why do these odd-looking children elicit such horror from adults? What does A Hard Day’s Night (1964) or Fawlty Towers (1975) have to do with Village of the Damned? How does the film differ from John Wyndham’s book? What’s the connection between Village of the Damned and The Death Wheelers (1973) aka Psychomania (Decades of Horror 1970s – Episode 49)? How did the filmmakers find kids with such high foreheads? Once again, our film has a connection to the Batman and I Love Lucy TV-series. What are those connections this time? What are the two connections Ronald Colman has to Village of the Damned? Originally planned as a U.S. production, why was production switched to MGM British Studios? How does this 1960 production compare with the 1994 production directed by John Carpenter?

We also read some feedback on Episode 8: Freaks (1932) from Saltyessentials (check out his blog, Dead Man’s Brain) and Mike Hatfield. Thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to comment!

As always, if you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these comments:

  • “De monical? Is that the thing Mr. Peanut wears on his eye?”
  • “Hey, I’ve watched wrestling enough to tell the difference between natural blondes and unnatural blondes.”
  • Maneater of Hydra screams, ‘Leeroy Jenkins!’ and goes dashing into battle when it comes to that particular crown (as strangest science fiction story ever told).”
  • “Creepy children are infinitely creepier when they’re in packs and when they have British accents.”
  • “They all look the same to me. They’re all blonde children with similar haircuts.”
  • “Wigmaster 2: The Weaving!”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming and very flexible schedule includes The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Jû jin yuki otoko (original 1955 Japanese version, aka Half Human).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about thefilms we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

Jeff Mohr

Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an “Old Boy.” Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for Horrornews.net and SQ Horror Magazine and co-hosted the SQ Bloodlines podcast. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is co-host of the Decades of Horror The Classic Era and 1970s podcasts.


  • Well, I TOTALLY had this film confused with 1963s The Damned–another British creepy-kids-with-powers movie (also taken from a novel–H. L. Lawrence’s The Children of Light). Any of you folks ever seen that one?

    At any rate, now that the podcast has set me straight, I’m sure I’ve never seen Village of the Damned. (Netflix and I are in the midst of rectifying that–the disc is in the queue.) I’m a fan of Stirling Silliphant’s writing, so my guess is the movie will be an enjoyable watch for me. As far as its source novel goes, I’m sure I’ve never read that either, although I DID read and enjoy Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids several years back. I’ll bet The Midwich Cuckoos would make for a good read as well.

    Enjoyed the podcast, as always. Keep up the great work.

    • Jeff Mohr

      You’re in the same boat as Chad. He thought he’d seen the film before too, but it turned out it was Children of The Damned. Those damned children! Can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

  • Netflix delivered (literally!) and I finally got to see this movie.

    Quite a little gem, in my opinion. Parts of it seemed so familiar, and others so NOT familiar, I figure this must be one of those (many) films I’ve caught bits and pieces of while late night channel surfing but never seen all the way through. That, and I’ve been looking at stills from the movie in pretty much every movie monster book I’ve read since Kindergarten. (Okay, maybe I wasn’t QUITE reading monster books by then. Probably by first or second grade, though, and definitely by third….)

    Anyway, a fine film this was. Really delivered in the bare bones chills department–Stirling Silliphant and Ronald Kinnoch put together an enjoyable story. (I mentioned I was already a Silliphant fan, and since IMDB tells me Kinnoch also wrote Devil Doll, he’s okay in my book too. That’s another fun little film.) I thought Sanders and Shelley had great chemistry here and sold their relationship well, plus I’m always happy to see Michael Gwynn and Laurence (Merlin!) Naismith onscreen.

    Favorite scenes? those opening shots of everyone lying about apparently dead, the cop dropping as he walks toward the bus, the shotgun scene, and that tense finale with the brick wall being disassembled–crumbled brick by brick. Great stuff.

    The disc I was sent is a double feature with Children of the Damned. I checked out the trailer for it and I gotta say it doesn’t look like it holds up. But I’ll probably give it a watch anyway. And I’ve never seen Carpenter’s remake either, but it DOES have Christopher Reeve in it, so that means I’m probably going to give IT a whirl at some point. (You kind of have to when Christopher Reeve is involved. It’s like a rule or something. Loved him in Deathtrap–probably my next favorite performance of his after his first two Superman films.)

    Thanks again for all your efforts with these podcasts, and keep up the great work!