61 Days of Halloween- Children of the Damned

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Children of the Damned

One thing I must admit is that I will not slam on a sequel as a rule. One needs only look at some previous posts I did in this serious such as those on latter-day Halloween, Friday the 13th or Children of the Corn series to know that I at times will be taken aback by a later follow-up. I also do appreciate a thoroughly examined through-line, a sequel which either adds to the myth-building or tries against all odds to reconcile disparate elements that seemed hastily added in a prior installment.

What this sequel does is that it cuts straight for incident. However, there’s a lack of moral compass in this film as compared to the last one. While there is only a thematic tie to the original, since it is government agents devoid of attachments to these kids the impetus is eradication makes sense but is reached far too quickly.

That’s fine in a vacuum, since in this series we know that these children aren’t innocents. However, the issue then becomes extrapolating more information about their other-worldly abilities, which this film also fails to do. There are great scenes between David (Martin Stephens) and Gordon (George Sanders) prior where there is a prodding back and forth: Gordon is seeing how much the children know and the children are deciphering how much Gordon knows. In this film, the children hardly speak and for the most part are devoid of personality. The best part of them in this version is that they are more diverse. This film picks up on the notion that similar occurrences and births took place all over the world such that there is a British, Indian, Chinese, Nigerian and American child with the ability in this version.

I can grant that the IQ testing would reveal these children as gifted sooner, as random as the reasoning for the tests is, but the assumption of bad intentions is still fast. Even in making such a quick assumption this film has less incident and more running time than its antecedent.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of the experience is in the early-going you can see how films like these set the stage for things like The Omen to come about. However, as a standalone piece Children of the Damned falls woefully short.