The Damned (1963 UK) (These Are the Damned)

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The Damned (1963 UK) (These Are the Damned)

Post  BoG on Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:57 pm

Who Are THE DAMNED? - These Are THE DAMNED  Directed by Joseph Losey
We're at the British coastal town of Weymouth, taking in the seascape and soon being introduced to King (Oliver Reed) and his Teddy Boys. Teddy Boys? Yes, that's the local motorcycle gang - that's what they called those rowdy ne'er-do-wells back then (still do, I guess). But, the main character is an American tourist (MacDonald Carey), a middle-aged tired-looking businessman-type who gets involved with a local (much younger) girl (Shirley Anne Field). There's the problem - the girl is King's sister and King has an entirely too intense fixation about her.

So, is that what this is - some melodrama about strange relationships and conflicts? Ah, no... there are other characters, among them a man named Bernard (Alexander Knox). Bernard oversees an underground installation located underneath the stone house of a sculptress (Viveca Lindfors). There, he is secretly educating a group of children - radioactive children who had been contaminated during pregnancy. This is one of those secret military projects; it's in preparation for that inevitable time when nuclear war wipes out everyone else and these kids will inherit the Earth - not a plan with much optimism attached to it. As one might guess, there is not a cheerful tone to this one.
This reminded me a bit of Village of the Damned & Children of the Damned; but, the kids are not hostile here. They are to be pitied - cursed from birth by the government, they poison any 'normal' people who spend time near them. This grim, downbeat scenario was ahead of its time. As a result, it's one of those films which was heavily tampered with. Hammer, the studio, requested changes from director Losey and the distributor cut the film from 100 to 87 minutes. Regarded as perhaps too cerebral (where have we heard that before?), the film was held back from release by Hammer for 18 months (filmed in 1961, released in 1963). BoG's Score: 8.5 out of 10
This was a very early role for Oliver Reed, just after his famed The Curse of the Werewolf. He played a similar thug a few years later in the horror film The Shuttered Room. You could see his star quality as early as  here, even if he was playing an unsympathetic sort. In the U.S., the film was retitled These Are the Damned by Columbia because Warner Bros held the rights to the original title.

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