Village of the Damned – Scream Factory Blu-ray Review
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Here at Mind of Tatlock, I’ve already talked about John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned. I reviewed the movie and the Blu-ray release from Fabulous Films back in May of 2015. In that review, I felt that the movie was just okay and the Blu-ray made an alright purchase but was nothing special as it had no special features and the video was borderline okay. At the time, there was no Region 1 release, so the only option for Blu-ray Maniacs was the Fabulous Films release. However, that has all changed now, thanks to Scream Factory releasing the flick on a Collector’s Edition release. The transfer is exactly the same as the Fabulous Films release, so if you felt it was waxy looking, with high contrast and DNR’d to death, you’ll feel the same here. However, it’s not the movie or the video that makes the purchase worthwhile, but the generous helping of special features, clocking in at over 2 hours of stuff to watch. One of the best is an interview with John Carpenter staple Peter Jason, who has starred in numerous JC films. I’ll get into what the Blu-ray entails, but first, let’s do a quick recap of the movie…
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DISCS: 1 RUN-TIME: 99 min ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA LANGUAGE: English SUBTITLES: English REGION: A/1 RATING: R PRODUCTION DATE: 1995 RELEASE DATE: April 12 2016
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From the master of suspense, John Carpenter, comes a chilling new version of the sci-fi classic. Something is terribly wrong in the tiny village of Midwich. After an unseen force invades a quiet coastal town, ten women mysteriously find themselves pregnant. Local physician Dr. Alan Chaffee (Christopher Reeve) and government scientist Dr. Susan Verner (Kirstie Alley) join forces when the women simultaneously give birth… and the reign of supernatural terror begins. In what The New York Times calls “one scarifying trip,” the people of Midwich must try to find a way to stop the unstoppable in the Village of the Damned.
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In my original review for the movie, I wrote the following:
Why? That’s the biggest question about this movie. Why was it needed? It offered nothing new, save for some colour, more kills and a change of scenery. It’s a completely unnecessary remake and the only reason it probably made any sort of money was due to Carpenter’s name being attached.
That remains still true, but after checking out the features and learning that the movie was actually a contractual agreement deal for John Carpenter, it makes way more sense why this movie ended up being made. Money, money and more money. It also helps to know that the studios took the film before it was even finished and chopped it up and released it with tons of footage missing. Most of the cast were surprised at what was cut, citing it made the movie hard to follow and care for certain characters. It really does make sense to see why this movie ended up failing, as anytime a studio interferes with the production, it never ends well. If you would like to read more about what I thought of the movie, you can read the rest of the review here.
The video for Village of the Damned is going to bother a lot of people. When I initially reviewed the Fabulous Films Blu-ray, I wasn’t too bothered by the look of the flick. However, now that I have a lot more Blu-ray reviews under my belt, I can see why this transfer would bother a lot of people. The contrast is through the roof, the sharpening is dialed up to 11 and the DNR has been taken to it aggressively. There are moments where the movie looks good, but more often than not, it’s a mess. The audio fares better with both a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0 options, with the 5.1 bringing that haunting theme alive through your speakers.
Okay, who cares about a shitty movie and shitty video; we already knew that going in. Unless for some reason you are a massive fan of this flick, the only reason you will want to buy this Blu-ray is for the special features. First up is a 50-minute interview extravaganza with John Carpenter, Sandra King, Michael Paré and a bunch of other just as important people. Thomas Dekker shows up reminiscing about the fun times he had as an alien child on the set. Lindsey Haun, who played the lead alien child is also interviewed and I would be remiss in not mentioning that both her and the other child actress in the flick interviewed, Danielle Wiener-Keaton, who played the child who gets her eye damaged, are both strikingly beautiful. To be PC, Cody Dorkin, who is also interviewed and the aforementioned Thomas Dekker are both good looking as well. (Don’t want to be sexist here!)
Seeing a new interview with John Carpenter is special, but seeing a new interview with John Carpenter where he doesn’t look deeply depressed and annoyed is something else, Here, he seems somewhat fond of the good times he had on set, even if the movie turned out to be a big flop. In fact, everyone interviewed had really great memories of the close-knit community they formed.
The next feature to watch out for is the 45-minute interview with Peter Jason, who has been in almost all of John Carpenter’s films, starting with Prince of Darkness. This is a career-spanning interview with Peter Jason, who goes through each movie and how he got the role. There is even a lengthy discussion about Ghost of Mars for those two fans out there that love that flick. Also, hearing his story about the fight between Christopher Reeve and John Carpenter was a delight. This is one feature that ranks high on my must watch list.
Also included is a new episode of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark. He visits plenty of the locations from the film and it runs 21-minutes long. Rounding everything out is a 25-minute segment of vintage interviews and behind the scenes, a photo gallery and trailer. There is talk of deleted scenes in the making of, but sadly none of those are included. There is also no audio commentary for this collector’s edition, which I will admit is a disappointment.
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• NEW It Takes A Village: The Making Of Village Of The Damned Featuring Interviews With Director John Carpenter, Producer Sandy King, Actors Michael Paré, Peter Jason, Karen Kahn, Meredith Salenger, Thomas Dekker, Cody Dorkin, Lindsey Haun, Danielle Wiener-Keaton And Make-up Effects Artist Greg Nicotero
• NEW Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – Revisiting The Locations Of The Film
• NEW The Go To Guy: Peter Jason On John Carpenter
• Vintage Interviews Featuring John Carpenter, Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, Mark Hamill And Wolf Rilla (Director Of The Original VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED)
• Vintage Behind-The-Scenes Footage
• Theatrical Trailer
• Behind-The-Scenes Still Gallery
Usually, I recommend a Blu-ray based on the movie first and everything else after, but because the movie on this disc is just an okay effort from John Carpenter, I’m really recommending it based on the features themselves. If you think two hours of very informative and highly entertaining features is enough to justify the price of the disc, I can’t see why you wouldn’t pick this up. If you by chance are a fan of the movie, this Blu-ray of John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned is a complete no-brainer.