If you grew up as huge a fan of the work of John Carpenter as I did, well then, we are living in glorious times!
I’m proud to own just about his entire filmography now on Blu-Ray, with the exception of SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME (his 1978 TV movie starring Lauren Hutton which I do have on DVD), and MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, currently only available here in the States as a Warner Archive DV-R release (burned on request). But ah, it’s a beautiful sight, isn’t it?
Out now from our friends at Scream Factory is Carpenter’s 1995 remake of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. It’s a film that I have to admit I’d never seen until this Blu-Ray arrived at my doorstep! I had heard mixed reviews of the final product and the mid-90’s were a time when a lot of Carpenter’s films were met with more scrutiny as compared to his earlier work. But you know what? I really liked it! Hold up any Carpenter versus any recent horror films and the odds are bound to fall in Uncle John’s favor. In fact, I particularly found the first 20 minutes completely creepy and unsettling!
With this new high def restoration and Scream factory once again giving Carpenter his due with a “collector’s edition” version of the flick (complete with plenty of bonus features), here’s a handful of reasons you should give VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED another shot!
A Stellar And Unique Cast
There are so many interesting familiar faces here that, in retrospect, it stands out as one of the most boldly casted movies of the mid-90’s. Perhaps because of his association with the SUPERMAN movies, there was always something about Christopher Reeve on screen that’s so naturally and palpably warm. He’s terrific in the movie, and this would mark the last film appearance he made shortly before his horrific horse-riding accident which left him paralyzed for the remainder of his life. You’ve also got Mark Hamill as the town preacher; Meredith Salenger, because let’s face it – we all watched DREAM A LITTLE DREAM on cable whenever it was on; Kirstie Alley of CHEERS fame; And the main little boy is none other than Thomas Dekker, who would go on to be young John Connor in the TV series THE TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNER CHRONICLES! Michael Pare and Karen Kahn are also strong stand-outs.
The “It Takes A Village” Documentary
Sometimes, the making-of retrospective documentaries are better than the movie! And the history of John Carpenter’s VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED is a fascinating one. All the main creative forces behind the movie are represented here, including director John and his wife/producer Sandy King. Did you know that VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED was a studio assignment that John only agreed to because Universal promised him he could do his CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON remake next? It’s an absolute sin that we don’t live in a world where that happened! All grounds are covered from casting, to the shoot itself, to the film’s rush into post-production and the removal of key scenes and sequences. I’m sure from their perspective, the studio “tweaks” really make the final product difficult to watch, but I had a new found appreciation for the movie after seeing this well put together mini-documentary.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds
I seriously don’t know how the hell Sean Clark does it, but yet again, this latest episode of Horror’s Hallowed Ground puts me in awe, primarily for Sean’s innate ability to be able to find every darned shooting location from any movie with only the tiniest bit of reference. We get to see all the original shooting locations up in Inverness and Bodega Bay, California. We learn that John fell in love with the town they shot in and actually bought a home up there! And there’s always something fascinating about getting a “then and now” look at a location you’re so well-versed in by appearance, just from having watched the movie a bunch of times. Clark’s genuine awe of finding the line painted on the highway from the movie still there is a fun find.
“The Go To Guy”
There’s a fun, candid interview with actor Peter Jason who tells some fun stories about playing tennis with Christopher Reeve, his relationship with John and he talks about his career in general, including all of his appearances in the Carpenter films. These are the sort of added bonuses that really round out a disc’s supplemental material.
It’s a John Carpenter movie! What more excuse do you need?!