Midwich is a small English village off the beaten path. It is also the home of Gordon Zellaby (George Sanders) and his wife Anthea (Barbara Shelley). One day, while Gordon is on the phone talking to his brother-in-law, Alan Bernard (Michael Gwynn), Gordon passes out. Not being able to contact his brother-in-law or anyone else in town, Alan heads to Midwich to find out what is wrong.
On the outskirts of town Alan runs into a constable (Peter Vaughan) who is also having trouble contacting anyone. Ahead they see a bus that has crashed into a tree. Everyone inside the bus is unconscious. When the constable walks over to the bus he too falls down. Alan contacts the military, and they cordon off the town. They send in a soldier wearing a gas mask. He too falls unconscious. A plane sent to observe the town crashes.
After several hours everyone in town wakes up, seemingly with no ill effects from whatever happened. A couple months later it is determined that every woman in the village that is of reproductive age is now pregnant, including Anthea Zellaby. Their pregnancies advance quicker than normal, and the women give birth on the same day.
The babies all have similar features. They all have straight white-blond hair, narrow fingernails, and unusual eyes. As the children grow, they exhibit unusual abilities. They are extremely intelligent and absorb information communally. They have the ability to communicate with each other telepathically and can read the minds of the people around them and make them do things against their will. The villagers become frightened of the children.
Gordon learns that Midwich is not the only place where this phenomenon occurred. Several other places in the world had similar events happen. The children become more powerful and more dangerous. Several villagers have died due to the children’s telepathic influence. Gordon, who up until then has been their advocate, must decide if the children, including his son, David (Martin Stephens), can be controlled or if they should, if it is possible, be destroyed.
“Village of the Damned” was released in 1960 and was directed by Wolf Rilla. It is a British science fiction horror movie. A sequel was done in 1964 called “Children of the Damned”. There was also a remake of the film done in 1995. The movie was based on the 1957 novel “The Midwich Cuckoos” by John Wyndham.
It’s interesting that at a time when interracial marriage is illegal, pregnancy by aliens from outer space is used as a plot device. Regardless, the movie is actually pretty good and quite eerie. The movie focuses on the villagers’ reaction to the oddness of the children and not on how the children came to be. Children can be strange to begin with. Having them function in unison is downright creepy.
The book’s title comes from the nesting habit of the cuckoo bird. The cuckoo bird lays its egg in the nest of another bird. When the egg hatches, the foster mother raises the cuckoo nestling as if it was its own chick. The cuckoo chick pushes any other chicks out of the nest so that it gets the sole attention of its foster parent.