The tale begins as every inhabitant of the village of Midwich, even the animals, suddenly falls unconscious, and anyone entering the village likewise falls unconscious. The military establishes a cordon around the village, plus a five-mile exclusion zone for aircraft after the pilot of a plane passing overhead falls unconscious, causing the plane to crash. Nobody can enter the village to find the cause - but when everyone in Midwich wakes again, apparently unaffected by what is soon dubbed a "time out," the danger appears to have passed.
However, two months later, all women and girls of child-bearing age are discovered to be pregnant. All the women give birth on the same day, to strangely identical children, all possessing white-blond hair, striking eyes, and unusual fingernails. As the children grow and develop at a surprising rate, it becomes clear that they share a telepathic bond: what one knows, the others soon know also. And Midwich was not the only community so affected: communities in Australia, Canada, Irkutsk, and the Soviet Union have all seen such births.
However, there is something about these children - these intelligent, well-behaved children - that frightens the adults of Midwich. They show no conscience or love, and can use their mental powers to read minds and force people to do things against their will, even kill themselves.
Now the real question is this: What do they want?
Village of the Damned contains examples of:
- Artistic License Biology:
- Examining the alien newborns, a physician claims that blood tests won't reveal anything, as at that age they still mostly have their mothers' blood. The blood of mother and fetus doesn't mix before birth; in fact, a major job of the placenta is to keep them separated by membranes so the mom's immune system won't attack the fetus's tissues.
- Children whose hairs are D-shaped in cross-section should have wavy or curly hair. Only circular hairs grow straight.
- Bizarre Baby Boom: Possibly the first visual media example.
- But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Aliens impregnate every woman of child-bearing age in a small English town. Initial reactions range from joy (from a previously childless couple) to suspicion (from a husband who's been away at sea) to this incredulous reaction from a teenage virgin.
- Creepy Child: All the mutant children.
- The End... Or Is It?: The final shot in the end of the original movie has the glowing eyes headed towards the audience as they are looking through the fire.
- Enfante Terrible: Guess. Go on, guess.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: When the alien children force a villager to drive his car into a wall, the car immediately bursts into flames.
- Evil Albino: The children.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Bruno, the Zellaby family dog, snarls and growls in the presence of alien baby David.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The children are implied to be the result of alien impregnation during the time out.
- For Science!: Professsor Zellaby dismisses evidence that the children are evil and insists they be allowed to live at large the better to study their superior alien minds.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: The alien children have these when they use their psychic powers.
- Heroic Sacrifice: To stop the children, Professor Zellaby blows himself up alongside them.
- Hive Mind: The children.
- Kill Em All: In the original, all of the alien children die along with the teacher responsible, but everyone else survives.
- Kill It with Fire: One of villagers suggests this as a way to get rid of the children. He and a group of villagers decide to try Torches and Pitchforks (minus the pitchforks). It does not end well for him.
- Literal Metaphor: In the original, the protagonist focuses on the words "brick wall" to hide how he plans to kill the psychic children. We see their attempts to break through his Psychic Static as a literal brick wall, which slowly falls to pieces as they force their way in.
- Oh, Crap!:
- The children's reaction when they find out what's behind the "brick wall".
- Most adults' reactions to turning around and seeing a cluster of the children staring intently at them. Then their eyes start to glow..
- Psychic-Assisted Suicide: And the children do this for fun.
- Smart People Play Chess: When they are not studying or forcing people to kill themselves, the alien children pass their time playing chess.
- Super Intelligence: The children can solve complicated puzzles as toddlers.
- Uncanny Valley: The Evil Albino in conjunction with the Hive Mind and the complete, and utter lack of emotion the children possesses, has this effect on the audience, and even in-universe.
- The Un-Reveal: We never learn who created the children, or why.
- Villainous Breakdown: A minor one. David (and by extension, the rest of the children) stop acting smug and are legitimately concerned during the 'brick wall' scene.
- Would Hurt a Child: All the alien children are blown up at the end. For most viewers probably justified in that they are a superior alien race that have about as much regard for human life as humans have for insects.