Blu-ray Review: Village of the Damned Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory)

villageofthedamnedBD

I have a shaky relationship with Village of the Damned. On the one hand, it’s a pretty piss-poor movie in a lot of ways. It has a lot going against it. It’s a remake, the acting is ludicrous, and some of the decisions made by the characters are just mind-numbing. On the other hand, it is a John Carpenter movie, and as we’ve all learned by this point — with the exception of The Ward — even a bad John Carpenter movie is better than a lot of filmmakers’ good movies. So yes, it’s a ridiculous movie, and yes, it’s really easy to get a group of friends together, and throw this on for the purpose of laughing at it, and yes, this movie turns Christopher Reeve — a man famous to most of us because of his portrayal of Superman, humanity’s symbol of hope — into a suicide bomber who takes a school full of children out with his explosive vest. Yeah, I know, those kids were evil incarnate and needed to be blown to shit, but, you know what I’m saying here, right? I mean, say what you will about Zack Snyder’s portrayal of Superman as a brooding-infant of a superhero, just now coming into his own, but he never murdered a school full of blonde-headed blue-eyed children by killing himself with a homemade explosive device. The world keeps finding excuses to put this movie back in front of my face, and though initially I grumble a bit, I’m still glad that I can go back, watch it with fresh eyes, and reach the same conclusion all over again.

Prior to Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, the only DVD available in the US was the Universal DVD released in 1998. And, if we’re being honest, that was still fairly early in the life of DVD. If I remember correctly, it was a cardboard snap-case, and quite possibly a double sided DVD. There was a release from Koch Entertainment in November of 2014, but it was region B-locked, and I can’t imagine horror fans were flocking to it in droves. Also, being that this is under Scream Factory’s “Collector’s Edition” banner, it’s treated to some newly-commissioned art, and several new pieces of bonus content. The only frame of reference I have to compare the picture and audio quality is the DVD release from ’98, so in comparison to that this is a huge upgrade. Is there some edge enhancement and other forms of digital-scrubbing? Yeah, a little, but it’s going to be unnoticeable to anyone who doesn’t over-analyze every frame of video in these releases. It’s an upgrade, a noticeable one, so if you’re a fan of the movie, or a John Carpenter or Scream Factory completionist, then you have no cause for concern. Even taking into consideration that this movie was made in 1995 when movies were a little uglier — and have been making the jump to HD in a way that’s slightly less attractive than movies from other decades — this movie still looks good in HD. It’s a John Carpenter film, and the way he “directs” is such a visual method, that he works really closely with his DP. He knows what he wants his movie to look like, and he usually gets just that.

The special features on this disc include a new documentary, It Takes a Village: The Making of Village of the Damned, and of course, there are interviews with Carpenter, his producer Sandy King, as well as interviews with several cast members including Thomas Dekker, and make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero. There is a new Village of the Damned-themed Horror’s Hallowed Grounds, and another retrospective documentary focusing on Peter Jason’s career with John Carpenter. We’re also treated to vintage interviews and other behind-the-scenes goodness the theatrical trailer, and a still gallery of behind-the-scenes photographs. Basically, even if you’re not a fan of this movie, but you’re a fan of Carpenter’s work, and especially the fascinating stories behind the production of one of his most notoriously “bad” films, then that stuff alone is probably worth the asking price of the Blu-ray.

Synopsis

“A good-looking, well-wrought film with some knockout special effects…” – Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

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.

Bonus Features

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