Horror Movie Review: Children of the Damned (1964)

The sequel to the 1960 science fiction horror, Village of the Damned came four years later. It had huge shoes to fill. So big were those shoes that it was kind of inevitable that Children of the Damned would struggle and struggle it does. You can read our review of Village of the Damned here.

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It’s less of a direct sequel for starters and more of an ‘inspired by’ kind of follow up. Here, we see a group of children being identified as having extraordinary intelligence. This is done by testing to see how quickly they can complete a puzzle. The ‘special’ children are impossibly quick gaining international attention. As well as the interest of British psychologist Tom Lewellin (Ian Hendry) and geneticist David Neville (Alan Badel). They go to one of the kid’s home (Paul) where they meet his mother.

They’re shocked by the disdain she has for the boy and after being hit by a car she reveals to the pair that she was never touched by a man. From our point of view it’s clear Paul is similar to the children from the first film and used his mind-control powers to force his mother into traffic.

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Of course Tom and David don’t listen to the ravings of a hysterical woman but as they look into the backgrounds of the other kids they make the discovery that they all lack a father. Then they discover the kids psychic abilities.

Feeling under threat, the kids escape together and gather at an abandoned church where any attempt to remove them is met with psychic force. The authorities begin to worry that the kids are dangerous, something David agrees with it. Only Tom and young David’s Aunt, Susan (Barbra Ferris) see things differently.

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Will the pair be able to stop the military launching a full scale attack on the kids or are they wrong and the children are destined to become a threat to humanity?

Unlike Village of the Damned, Children of the Damned is way more ham-fisted about how it approaches the morality of dealing with these extra-ordinary kids. The latter parts of the film really tries to hammer home the implication of dealing with them. It could have been a decent question to ask if Village of the Damned hadn’t handled it way better with just one character!

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Here, the film makes a mess of it. By revealing that the kids are not human at all so any attachment is gone. Not that there would have been much as these children are nowhere as engaging as the ones from Village of the Damned.

Children of the Damned fails to set an eerie vibe. While the first film wasn’t scary it had a really creepy feel at times. This sequel doesn’t hit the mark at all.

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The best thing about it is probably the acting and that comes from Ian Hendry and Alan Badel. Beginning as inquisitive partners, their eventual separation because of their differing beliefs makes for an interesting watch. Hendry’s Lewellin does start to become a little holier then thou near the end though. That’s less of a criticism of his acting and more of his character.

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It should come as no surprise that Children of the Damned’s ending is nowhere as impactful and memorable as Village of the Damned. It’s hard to be too critical of that though as the first movie’s ending could hardly be topped. That being said, it does take a different stance then you might expect and the final shot is pretty grim. It asks the question…just who is the real evil?

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Children of the Damned
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