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Film / Village of the Damned (1995)

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The 1995 adaptation of The Midwich Cuckoos by John Carpenter, starring Christopher Reeve, Mark Hamill, Linda Kozlowski, Kirstie Alley, and Peter Jason.

The movie is a Bloodier and Gorier remake of Village of the Damned (1960).

In the village of Midwich, everyone suddenly loses their consciousness for a day as they were preparing for a county fair. Later, it becomes apparent that all the women have mysteriously become pregnant during that time, which leads them to give birth to children who have immense psychic powers. The children, howewer, are devoid of anything similar to humanity and empathy...

This remake provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: David is born without a counterpart, and thus is left vulnerable to emoting with other humans and gaining empathy. He eventually pulls a Heel–Face Turn to save his mother, avoiding the same fate with the others like in the original. Female child Mara takes the role of the ringleader instead.
  • Anyone Can Die: The film has many characters. This being a John Carpenter film, all but two of them are dead by the end.
  • Asshole Victim: The janitor is an alcoholic Child Hater who drinks on duty and is heavily implied to abuse the schoolchildren. When he crosses the children, he winds up Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.
  • Badass Preacher: Reverend George is A) played by Mark Hamill, B) Genre Savvy, and C) nearly kills Mara.
  • Bullying a Dragon: When the janitor, for whatever reason, decides to harass the children by swinging around a broom. He hits one of them. It does not end well.
  • Creepy Child: All the mutant children, and especially their leader Mara. One of the boys (the son of the local schoolteacher Jill) loses his female counterpart in childbirth, and thus learns empathy... and he's still kinda creepy.
  • Death by Genre Savviness: Reverend George.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: If the children take any pain inflicted upon them, accidentally or otherwise, they force the adults to experience it taken up to eleven. This also applies if the adults try to interfere with the children's plans in any way.
    • The little girl who is accidentally given too hot soup, and coincidentally is the leader of the group? She makes her mother Barbara stick her arm into a boiling pan of water. And then makes her commit suicide via jumping off a cliff.
    • Another little girl has an acidic substance accidentally dropped in her eyes during an exam. The ringleader of the children then makes the optician use said drops on her own eyes over and over until she's left permanently blind.
    • When a drunken janitor is mocking the kids and pointing his broom at them he accidentally hits one of the boys with it, causing the children to make him jump off with his broom aimed at him, stabbing him to death.
    • When Julie's father arrives to take her home after the children move into the barn because her mother misses her too much, the children at first warn him that Julie wasn't going anywhere but when the father refused to listen to them, they make him get on his truck and crash against a gas truck.
  • Driven to Suicide: A young woman whose late daughter was David's intended partner who was a stillborn and is the older sister of one of the children. It is implied that she shot herself in the head out of grief over her lost daughter.
  • Dwindling Party: A majority of the adults introduced are killed by the children, and by the end the audience is left with 1 adult and 1 child (David and his mom Jill)
  • Dying Town: The already small town of Midwich, with its 2000 inhabitants, becomes this when the kids start hurting and killing its citizens, driving most survivors to either leave town or get themselves killed if they make the children angry until Mara's father kills nearly all the children while David and Jill leave the town It is unknown how many people remained in the town (if there's anyone left at all).
  • The End... Or Is It?: In the final shot, it is implied there was a sequel in the works involving David.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: David is the only one of the children to develop empathy. He is consequently the only one who survives.
  • Friendly Sniper: Reverend George is one of the kindest characters in the film, and nearly snipes Mara.
  • Genre Savvy: Reverend George is pretty quick to realize that the children are dangerous despite not being involved in Dr. Verner's study, and knows that they are in fact behind the recent string of deaths. Eventually, he takes matters into his own hands and tries to kill them.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Zig-zagged. While Dr. Verner says that it is everyone's individual choice whether to keep or terminate the babies, both are valid options, and the government will pay all medical expenses either way, every woman carries to term. However, the dream sequence all the pregnant women share immediately after this, combined with Jill's friend's initial desire to abort (as it can't possibly be her husband's), makes it pretty clear that they didn't get to make the decision.
  • Good Shepherd: Reverend George is soft-spoken, kind, and cares about the safety of the town. He is also one of the first to realize the threat the children pose.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The children forcing Reverend George to shoot himself with his sniper rifle.
  • Hellish Copter: The children mind-whammy a police helicopter pilot into making a rather abrupt and explosive crash-landing.
  • Heroes' Frontier Step: David spends the last half of the film lingering between the cuckoos and his mother. Eventually when the kids mind-attack Jill during the climax he snaps and pushes down Mara so she can escape.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Especially if they're mutated children with no empathy.
  • Large Ham: Kirstie Alley enjoys the opportunity to chew on a ton of scenery as Mad Scientist g-woman Dr. Werner.
  • Lighter and Softer: In the original story and its 1960 film adaptation, all the children were villains uncaring of humanity. In this version, the girl who was destined to be David's mate is stillborn, and as a result, David has some emotional vulnerability. To balance it out however, the other children are even more vindictive and graphic in action than in the original.
  • Mama Bear: The schoolteacher Jill refuses to believe that her son David is evil, and risks the children's wrath to rescue him. This seems to play a lot into David's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Man on Fire: The minister's Holier Than Thou wife, Sarah, leads a group that tries to attack the kids while holding a torch. It's easy to guess what happens.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: Zigzagged. David lacks a counterpart, leaving him vulnerable to experiencing emotions and bonds with humans, in particular his mother. While David is still far from normal, he exists as proof cuckoos can partway achieve human sentience under certain circumstances.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!:
    Mara: You can't stop us, you know. Don't try.
  • Offing the Offspring: Alan decides that in order to save humanity he must kill all the children, including his "daughter" Mara, who is not technically his daughter but rather the spawn of some unknown entity. Although he makes an effort to spare Jill's son, David, which she manages to do moments before the bomb Alan was hiding in the barn explodes.
  • Oh, Crap!: The cuckoos read Alan's mind just in time to find out about the bomb he has planted, just before it explodes and kills them all.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: How the children dispose of the janitor and Reverend George.
  • Redemption Earns Life: The one child who refuses to use his powers for harm survives.
  • Setting Update: The story now takes place in California instead of English countryside.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Mara speaks softly and coldly, and is the ringleader of a bunch of horrible kids.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Unlike the 1960 movie, David survives.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Everyone falls asleep at once in the middle of whatever they were doing? There are consequences, many gruesome and fatal, while the event attracts attention of the authorities and puts the entire community under observation.
  • Tin Man: David, in spite of the cuckoo's nature, slowly grasps onto emotions to some degree. Mara is a darker example. For someone who claims not to have emotions, she has a thinly veiled contemptuous, angry disposition for most of the movie.
  • Unfriendly Fire: When the State Police and National Guard attempt to confront and kill the children, the children hypnotize them into killing each other instead.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: Mara states David to be inferior due to his more evident emotions and conscience.
  • White Sheep: David becomes this when he begins to develop human feelings and a conscience.
  • Would Hurt a Child: All the alien children are killed by Mara's father after he realizes that they cannot be taught humanity nor be stopped, except for David, whose mother manages to get him out of the barn in time.