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  Children of the Damned Save The Saviours
Year: 1963
Director: Anton Leader
Stars: Ian Hendry, Alan Badel, Barbara Ferris, Alfred Burke, Sheila Allen, Ralph Michael, Patrick Wymark, Martin Miller, Harold Goldblatt, Patrick White, André Mikhelson, Bessie Love, Clive Powell, Yoke-Moon Lee, Roberta Rex, Gerald Delsol, Madhu Mathen
Genre: Horror, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: UNESCO investigators Colonel Tom Llewellyn (Ian Hendry) and Dr David Neville (Alan Badel) have stumbled upon a most extraordinary child, a prodigy if you like, who is displaying a highly advanced intellect. Intrigued, they go around to the home of the child, Paul (Clive Powell), expecting to find at the very least academic parents, but they are let down when they meet his single mother (Sheila Allen) who makes her living as a model - and not a high class one, either. When they start asking questions, she demands they leave, and when they do she turns to Paul and tells him that "they" are coming to get him at last...

Children of the Damned was a sequel of sorts to the minor classic of British science fiction, Village of the Damned, although really it only took part of the premise of John Wyndham's original novel and screenwriter John Briley, best known for scripting Gandhi, invented a whole new story to go along with it, with emphasis on the humanity of the idea. Interestingly, Briley also wrote The Medusa Touch, which also has its climax in a church, but here it is to underline the religious angle that such a location was chosen, as if these six new children with strange abilities have blessings from on high.

Whether that is from an almighty supreme being or from an alien source is never made clear, as with the first film, but with all these trappings of Christian belief subverted to meet the ends of this science fiction plot, there is a distinct feeling of allegory here. The children are drawn from all over the world, not all blue-eyed and blond-haired like before, but rest assured their eyes still light up when riled. So from Africa, India, China, the Soviet Union, North America and Great Britain of course, they are taken to London to find out more about them.

But they're not content to be experimented on, and soon escape to set up headquarters at that disused church, with only Paul's aunt Susan (Barbara Ferris) and his under-psychic-command dog to look after them. What are they planning? It turns out not even they know their purpose, but what they do want to do is survive, so when men from the authorities come around to take them back, shooting the fearsome dog dead in the process, we get an idea of what the kids are capable of when they make one man shoot the other, then take a tumble from a balcony to his death onto spiked railings.

Funnily enough, although in the first instalment this behaviour would have made the children the embodiment of evil, here we are supposed to feel some sympathy for them, as if in spite of their ill-used superminds they cannot help themselves and are actually objects of pity. Certainly Llewellyn doesn't wish to see them exterminated as the military want to do, and believes in his heart of hearts that they could be beneficial to mankind if coaxed into working with us rather than against us. But simple ignorance puts paid to that, and the ending is something of a cop-out, alleviating blame for what happens by making it the result of a mistake rather than malice, although the fear the children have engendered by say, creating a sonic weapon with the pipe organ hasn't exactly endeared them. Some say this is Village's equal, but while it's consistently interesting, it doesn't quite have the same resonance, at least not until something like it happens in the real world. Music by Ron Goodwin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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