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MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Carpenter
Cast:
Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Michael Pare, Mark Hamill, Linda Kozlowski
Writing Credits:
David Himmelstein

Synopsis:
A small town's women give birth to unfriendly alien children posing as humans.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$9,418,365.

MPAA:
Rated R

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $34.93
Release Date: 4/12/2016

Bonus:
• “It Takes a Village” Documentary
• “Horror’s Hallowed Ground” Featurette
• “The Go To Guy” Featurette
• Vintage Interviews and Behind the Scenes
• Photo Gallery
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Village of the Damned [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 16, 2016)

John Carpenter enjoyed cult success when he turned 1951’s The Thing from Another World into 1982’s The Thing, so I guess he decided to go back to the remake well with 1995’s Village of the Damned. An update of a 1960 film with the same title, the movie takes us to the small coastal town of Midwich, California.

In this quaint locale, an unexplained event knocks all the residents and animals unconscious. Led by Dr. Susan Verner (Kirstie Alley), authorities investigate this bizarre occurrence, but eventually all those affected wake up on their own – except for the two men who died in accidents connected to their lack of consciousness. Otherwise, life appears to return to normal – until it turns out that a slew of Midwich women became pregnant on the day of the “blackout”.

Nine months hence, the women go into labor at the same time, and all but one of the babies survives. Along with Dr. Verner, local physician Alan Chaffee (Christopher Reeve) keeps tabs on the children. This becomes more complicated as it turns out that these kids – all off whom have the same odd ultra-pale hair – seem less than normal.

21 years after its debut, Village may be most notable for an unforeseen aspect of its release. Village hit screens April 28, 1995, less than a month before Christopher Reeve would suffer the spine injury that left him disabled for the rest of his life. Reeve did a little TV work between 1995 and his death in 2004, but Village marked his final feature.

While I’d like to report that Reeve went out on top, the lackluster qualities of Village prevents such a declaration. Because I never saw the original, I can’t compare the two, but the 1995 Village seems pretty mediocre.

Much of the problem stems from the film’s basic blandness. Village actually starts pretty well, as the mystery of the “blackout” receives good development. We sense that something bizarre occurs and this intrigues us.

After that, however, matters rapidly go downhill. When the women get pregnant and deliver their children, Village hints at concerns, but it does little to develop these areas. The locals seem oddly unperturbed by the obvious weirdness of the kids – doesn’t the fact they all have such pale hair strike anyone as strange?

Maybe, but Village barely reveals that, even though it depicts the kids as eerie and supernatural right away. That’s another problem area, as the movie rushes development far too quickly. The story could’ve used a slow build instead of the way in which it shows the kids to be oddballs almost immediately. This robs the tale of potential drama and mystery.

Though Village quickly goes all-in with the kids as evil figures, it fails to present much excitement or terror. Inevitably, someone angers the kids and the urchins do bad things. None of this comes across as especially inventive or scary.

Honestly, Carpenter seems to be on cruise control through much of Village. As we learn in the disc’s extras, he came on-board as a hired hand, and that lack of enthusiasm for the material shows. Village possesses the bones of a creepy movie but the final result remains dull and monotonous.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Village of the Damned appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Much of the movie looked good, but some avoidable flaws cropped up along the way.

Actually, only one notable issue marred Village edge haloes. These never seemed major but they appeared through much of the movie and created distractions, largely because they affected definition. While a lot of the film appeared concise, the haloes rendered wider shots a little on the soft side.

Otherwise, the image worked pretty well. I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and print flaws were absent. Colors took on a homey, rural feel, with a somewhat sepia take on things. This left the palette as low-key but satisfying, with warm, rustic hues on display.

Blacks were acceptably rich, and shadows showed fairly good delineation; some low-light shots seemed a bit dense, but they were still fine. Though much of the presentation satisfied, the edge haloes and the resultant softness left this as a “B-“.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it has endured the last 21 years nicely. The soundscape proved to be fairly active and involving. The front channels demonstrated the best movement/integration, but the surrounds got a lot of work as well. Though the track lacked convincing split-speaker usage in the rear, those channels nonetheless brought a nice sense of place, and they bolstered the music as well.

The quality of the track seemed fine. Speech occasionally became a bit edgy, but the lines were always intelligible and usually appeared reasonably natural. Music was peppy and bold, while effects came across as clear and distinctive. I felt we got a solid “B” soundtrack that leaned toward “B+” territory at times.

As we shift to extras, we open with a documentary called It Takes a Village. In this 49-minute, 17-second piece, we hear from director John Carpenter, producer Sandy King, special makeup effects creator Greg Nicotero, and actors Thomas Dekker, Lindsey Haun, Cody Dorkin, Danielle Keaton, Meredith Salenger, Karen Kahn, Peter Jason, and Michael Pare.

We hear about the project’s path to the screen and how Carpenter came on board, story/character areas and updates to the original, cast and performances, locations, various effects, editing and the film’s release. Largely anecdotal in nature, “Takes” offers a bunch of good tales, especially from the former child actors. This isn’t the most thorough examination of the production, but it comes with a lot of interesting elements.

Part of an ongoing series, Horror’s Hallowed Ground runs 20 minutes, 58 seconds and features host Sean Clark. He takes us on a tour to see how various Village locations look today; local/actor Skip Richardson assists. I like the “Hallowed Ground” clops and this one adds more good views.

With The Go To Guy, we find an interview with actor Peter Jason. He chats for 45 minutes, 13 seconds about aspects of his career, with an emphasis on the time he spent on Carpenter’s movies. Naturally garrulous, Jason gives us 45 minutes of excellent anecdotes and memories. He makes this a delightful chat.

A collection of Vintage Interviews and Behind the Scenes ensue. This compilation lasts 24 minutes, 40 seconds and features Carpenter, 1960 director Wolf Rilla, and actors Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, and Mark Hamill. The interviews tend to be superficial and promotional in nature, but the behind the scenes footage offers interesting material.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a gallery. It shows 22 frames that mix shots from the set and publicity materials. It brings us a decent little collection.

Though far from John Carpenter’s worst film, Village of the Damned doesn’t fare especially well. I think the movie comes with potential, but as told here, the result seems flat and bland. The Blu-ray offers mostly positive picture and audio as well as an informative set of supplements. Village turns into a lackluster effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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