Children of the Damned (1963)

This is how sequels should be done. Take the struggle of the first film and magnify it ten times!

Children of the Damned - the Eyes!

Remember Village of the Damned? The film that intertwined one of Hollywood’s biggest no-no’s (filicide) with good old Cold War paranoia?

In Children of the Damned we learn that the strange events that took place weren’t an isolated incident. These telepathic uber-children are springing up all over the world; turning the first film’s subtext into a full-fledged subplot. Midwich’s mutant children now becoming a stand-in for the nuclear bomb. Figure Midwich as ground zero, with the atmospheric fall-out causing similar aberrations to occur worldwide.

Children of the Damned - meeting

Children of the Damned begins with Paul (Clive Powell), Britain’s last remaining super-child. In an amusing instance of amazingly inaccurate science, Paul’s strange powers are explained to be outside the scope of evolution. Paul’s powers being “a sudden, unexplained mutation in the genes,” thus, according to the scientist, falling outside Darwin’s theories. Unless one considers that it is through gene mutation that new traits are developed and (biologically) field-tested.

Science isn’t the only thing misfiring here. Those Damned Children are, on the whole, a lot more innocent than they were previously. Violence only being resorted to when necessary. (Paul mind-walks his mother into a bus after she blames his intelligence for attracting the fuzz to her apartment.)

Children of the Damned - head-on

The children are still viewed as a threat, but it plays out more as a game of cat-and-mouse; as the danger is mostly implied. With the two bumbling scientists trying to protect Paul from the British authorities, who want to isolate him and the others before the Russian embassy can get their hands on them. Taking the sequel to the next level with almost mathematical precision: (the Brits vs the Soviets)/ the Kids.

Symbolically, this implied threat works great. Whereas in the first film the children symbolized the Red Scare, here they’re portrayed as the victims of the Red Scare. Hunted by the government, their only refuse is in an abandoned church. A flaw in the children’s intelligence is their failure to realize The Church of England being just another arm of the British government. Meaning the government agents have no qualms about breaking the church’s sanctity.

Children of the Damned - 2nd Attack

An interesting theme this, as Dracula Has Risen from the Grave also had a church being unconsecrated. Another theme (alongside filicide) that the Britons would allow in their films that would never pass muster in ’60s Hollywood.

Having guns drawn on children is one thing, having guns (and artillery) drawn on children who’re hiding in a church is a whole new level of transgression.

Children of the Damned - Looking Down the Barrel of a (Machine) Gun

Once they feared that the children’s power would overturn the British government, and, by extension, upset the world. Now it’s all about protecting the powers that are already in place. Negotiations to return the children to their respective embassies fail when the diplomats are informed that these children share a telepathic bond.

“Now do you want them in your embassies?” Paul’s aunt asks; sending the audience a chilling reminder that these children won’t be making it out alive.

A moment for Rashid.

A moment for Rashid.

The film’s killings have increased exponentially too. No longer content to force suicides via mind control, here the children take out a midnight hit squad using super-powered church organs! Young, pioneering organist Rashid (Mahdu Mathen) being the first child to fall.

(Rashid, despite getting limited billing (you have to extend the credits on imdb to find Mahdu’s name) is the film’s true star. He plays the haunting organ that prevents the first attack. He gets the second-most amount of screen-time after Paul. He’s also the most able out of all the children; Paul might decide on the plans, but it’s Rashid who carries them out. Not in a blind, “follow the leader,” type capacity though, since when Rashid launches the audio attack, he does so under no one’s direction except his own.)

Even Children of the Damned‘s ending holds the philosophical line as the children face off against the army. One mistake, made by the soldier manning the communications junction box, causes everyone to start firing. Bullets, grenades, and mortars uniting as one to level the church and decimate the children and ambassadors.

Children of the Damned - United They Fell

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