Village of the Damned released
In the winter of 1960, a new vision of horror came to American cinemas from Britain. The Village of the Damned tells the story of a small English village in which all the women are mysteriously pregnant. When they all give birth at the same time, their brood grow up to be strange blond-haired and glowing-eyed terrors, an invasion from outer space by impregnation. In 1957, MGM attempted to adapt John Wyndam’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos into The Village of the Damned, but ran into problems. First the Catholic Legion of Decency objected to the idea of Immaculate Conception suggested by film’s plot. Then the film’s star Ronald Colman began to have cold feet about the film’s story line. His death in 1958, however pushed the film from America to Britain with George Sanders taking over the lead. Shot in Letchmore Heath, the film was directed by German director Wolf Rilla for a much-reduced budget. The end product proved a sensation, pushing MGM to rush forward with a sequel, Children of the Damned, released in 1963. John Carpenter remade the film in 1995. While borrowing from the fifties tradition of alien paranoia, the story interjected both a sense sexuality and of evil offspring that was new. For Rilla, who left Germany when Hitler came to power, the film provided an even more immediate target: "I don't think any of us were aware of it then, but of course now they remind you of the Hitler youth, blond-haired Aryan children and all that. I'm convinced that was an unintentional subtext; after all, the war was still fresh in our memories."