Tuesday, July 30, 2013

'60s Class?: Children of the Damned

Don't call it a Sequel!  Today's film is Children of the Damned, the follow-up film to the 1960 Classic.  It's not a Sequel, as I said, but rather an alternate version of the story.  Yes, that is confusing.  I waited for a while to find out what explanation they had for more of the Children being around, but eventually gave up.  The movie is viewed in the same way that many people view Evil Dead 2- an alternate version of the same story.  Mind you, Evil Dead 2 is a Sequel, but people are allowed to be wrong.  If you want a more accurate description, the ____ of the Damned 'Series' is much like the Blind Dead Series.  Each film features a similar villain- the Children or the Knights Templar-, but no film follows the other in any way.  The big difference here is the outside event that greatly-influenced the tone of this one.  That event: The Cold War.  There's no mistaking the influence in this 1963 film, good or bad.  The film is dated in all of the ways that the original is not.  The story again features mysterious births (but no blackout event) and Children with psychic powers.  Things take a slow, odd turn, however, as the film progresses.  Without Spoiling it too much early, the change in the title is a key one.  To find out whether it's worth staying on the same Menu to watch this one, read on...
More mysterious births from 'immaculate conception' occur, but don't think that this is following anything.  We do, at least, get a younger lead.  He's just as wooden though.
Unlike Village, the Children look...normal.  It's a bit less scary like this.  Is it intentional?  Maybe.
The big change is that we have Children from different countries.  It's pretty much the U.N. of possibly-alien Children with psychic powers.
See- I told you!  It's like the freaking Real World!
What makes the film quite a bit dated is that it simply cannot exist without the Cold War connection.  The Children are all drawn together, you see, which upsets their handlers of their respective countries.

Could this lead to war?
The other big change: they are much more overt about the Children's origins.  They don't say it exactly, but they literally show you one of their cells.

To see how you really 'screw the pooch' with this part, wait until tomorrow.
In something I'm amazed you could do back then, one of the kids is shot to death.  Seriously, that happens!
Well, they got away with it because the Children can also bring people to life.  Yeah, they embraced the whole 'Jesus' vibe for this one, it seems.

A tense stand-off ensues and the Children- who claim to be an Advanced race from the future- agree to meet with the Government officials/The Army.
Unfortunately for them, a technical error causes a call to fire to go out.  The Children are all killed as they slowly pan over to show a Screwdriver, the cause of this whole mess.

Don't you just love forced irony hammered into you?  The End.
Everyone says you're a dated mess.  Let me just say this first: this isn't a bad movie.  The problem is that it doesn't really have a unique story.  The story it is doing is just about the original film.  That was a good movie.  So why would you just do it again?  Was it just because it worked the first time?  If so, that's lazy.  The only new stuff here is the Cold War influence and it's...just not that interesting.  There are good movies that play with this material.  There are films like Dr. Strangelove or The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming- just to name a couple.  Those films played with the issues of their day and made you laugh.  This film says 'We're important because we're doing a story based on what's happening.'  It's a precursor to the 'Ripped from the Headlines' Episodes of any Crime Show.  If they had done anything at all to play with or really exploit the idea, I'd give it a pass.  Oh and the use of the Symbolism that the Original was smart enough to avoid is a bit silly too.  It's not a bad movie- it's just a movie that tries to be like one that was good already.  It's...just disappointing overall.  What do you think, Gandhi?
Next up, the infamous Remake of the original film.  While I love John Carpenter, this one is a serious mess.  Stay tuned...

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