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Anton M. Leader
Ian Hendry, Alan Badel, Barbara Ferris
Writing Credits:
John Briley

Six impossibly intelligent children from all over the world with dangerous psychic powers hide in a church in England after the military tries to experiment on them.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 10/19/2021

• Audio Commentary with Screenwriter John Briley
• Trailer


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Children of the Damned [Blu-Ray] (1964)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 4, 2021)

Back in 1960, Village of the Damned did respectable box office. Potentially inevitably, this led to a sequel four years later with 1964’s Children of the Damned.

In the first film, unexplained occurrences caused various kids to receive immense mental powers that veer into psychic domains. Researchers gather six of these youngsters from around the world and take them to be studied in England.

All this poking and prodding doesn’t sit well with the urchins, though. The kids manage to escape and hole themselves up in a church, where they face off against authorities in ways that might cause major repercussions.

Due to Blu-ray release dates, I came to the 1960 Village after I saw John Carpenter’s 1995 remake. While the latter became a dud, the original worked pretty well.

That led me into Children with moderate expectations – sort of. The fact it took four years to get the sequel into theaters – an eternity in the 1960s – and the absence of returning creative talent kept this hopes minimized, though.

As far as sequels go, Children seems… okay. The film neither excels in its exploration of topics, nor does it flop.

The two movies come with different tones/emphasis, as Children presents the super-smart tykes in a much more sympathetic manner. Whereas the kids of the first film exist mainly as an ominous threat, the sequel makes it much less clear that they possess dire motives.

Indeed, Children mainly leaves us with the impression that the kids don’t plan anything terrible. They only get violent when others force them to go that way.

I suppose one could view Children as an analogy for the “generation gap” that seemed increasingly glaring in the counter-cultural 1960s. In the span that separated the two movies, youth culture became more independent and eager to smack back at elders, and Children seems like it shows that influence.

While I appreciate that Children doesn’t just remake the original, all this leaves the movie without as much dramatic impact. The sequel progresses at a fairly slow pace, and that becomes a liability.

Actually, the first acts works fairly well, as we get to see the attributes of the kids and issues related to their fatherless backgrounds that feel reasonably intriguing. The opening chapter of the film manages to draw us in to the tale.

After that, though, we get little more than a series of standoffs between various adult authorities and the kids – with the requisite Cool Grownups Who “Get It”. Again, a lot of this feels like a token representation of the “never trust anyone over 30” concept, and it tends to make the story somewhat one-note.

Still, the actors do pretty well, as the various adult performers enliven the underdrawn script to make their roles engaging. The different kids get little to do beyond look creepy, but they pull off those requirements and happily avoid any urges to break character.

Honestly, I can’t find much about Children that I can actively criticize, as it offers a serviceable and reasonably watchable extension of Village. However, it never quite finds the groove it needs to offer anything especially stimulating.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Children of the Damned appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Warner Archives releases are money in the bank, and this becomes another excellent presentation.

Sharpness appeared positive, as the movie consistently seemed nicely detailed and distinct. No issues connected to softness or fuzziness showed up throughout the film.

Jagged edges and shimmering failed to appear, and I noticed no edge enhancement. Source flaws also remained absent.

Black levels looked very good throughout the movie. Dark tones came across as deep and tight, and shadow detail also was solid.

Low-light scenes appeared concise and well defined. Contrast also seemed strong, as the movie exhibited the appropriate balance between light and dark. Overall, I felt very pleased with this consistently solid transfer.

The DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Children seemed perfectly fine for its age and scope. Speech remained reasonably natural and always came across as clear and intelligible.

Effects played a small role in the proceedings but they were perfectly clean and distinct given their background participation. Music also was a minor element and sounded good when it appeared. This was a limited mix that suited the material well.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get an audio commentary from screenwriter John Briley. He presents a running, screen-specific look at the source and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, themes and Cold War allusions, and aspects of the production as well as his overall career.

Despite occasional lulls, Briley makes this a mostly compelling commentary. He spends more time with thoughts/memories about the movie business than he does with specifics related to Children, but this nonetheless seems like an engaging and largely informative piece.

While Village of the Damned delivered an impressive form of creepy thriller, Children of the Damned feels less memorable. Though the movie gives us a more than watchable experience, it fails to deliver an especially compelling tale. The Blu-ray comes with excellent picture, appropriate audio and a few bonus materials. Children entertains but doesn’t excel.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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