|Category||Horror||Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1, 16x9,
Dolby Digital 2.0)
Cast & Crew Biographies
DVD-ROM Web Link
|Running Time||93:57 Minutes|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Macrovision||Yes||Smoking||Yes, when one man collapses over a barbecue.|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The story begins with a strange mist floating over a coastal town in the USA, and ten women suddenly find themselves pregnant with children that turn out to be alien creatures in humanoid form with immense powers of mind control. One specific fault I found with the plot is that, for supposedly "emotionless" creatures, these children sure get upset pretty easily. From what I could ascertain, much of the original idea of the story was to raise questions about mankind's inability to accept the unknown, and Reverend George (Mark Hamill) keeps the film consistent with this idea. The heroes, such as they are, consist of Allen Chaffee (Christopher Reeve), Jill McGowan (Linda Kozlowski), Frank McGowan (Michael Paré), and Doctor Susan Verner (Kirstie Alley). The last of these characters is a modern addition to the story that holds little rhyme nor reason except to modernize the script a touch, much like the more explicit violence and speech of this 1995 production. The bad guys are a group of white-haired children who sit around doing nothing a lot on a farmhouse for years until someone finally decides that there's something not quite normal about them and that they Must Be Stopped ™.
Not having seen the original 1960 production of this film, I cannot really comment on whether this is the best version of the film that one can lay out their thirty dollars for. However, if there is one thing that director John Carpenter does well, it is to take old horror stories and bring them into the modern age, albeit with variable results. Much of this film is unintentionally funny, and much of it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, but the whole sense of this on-screen town being doomed is carried well enough to make for an entertaining film. It is also worth noting that this is the last film Christopher Reeve appeared in before he was paralysed from the neck down in a horse-riding accident, a truly sad situation given his commanding presence as an actor. I personally liked Village Of The Damned according to John Carpenter. Many others don't, but I found it enjoyable enough to warrant repeated viewings.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The transfer is razor sharp from start to finish, although it may be a little too sharp for its own good, as I will explain in a moment.
The colour saturation is rich, but still perfectly consistent with the location and subject of the shots. The saturation captures the rich palette of colours that were intended to be seen, with no bleeding or misregistration apparent.
MPEG artefacts were not noticed in the feature, with yet another example of faultless compression on display. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some wobble during the credits that may have been introduced during principal photography, and some aliasing. Standout examples of aliasing include a fencepost at 6:45 and the front of a car at 8:00, both of which shimmer in spite of the fact that the camera is (seemingly) perfectly still. This seems to be a problem with the sharpness of the transfer, with many linear areas of chrome being too bright and shiny for an interlaced display to fully cope. Most fine lines in the picture are not affected by this problem, but it is noticeable when they are. Film artefacts were not especially prevalent, although one or two small artefacts appeared every now and again to remind the viewer that this is a five year old film.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time, although there is the occasional bout of mumbling that poses some difficulties. There were no discernible problems with audio sync at any time.
The score music is credited to John Carpenter and Dave Davies, and is an especially haunting effort. The score consists mainly of choir vocals and synthesizer work, and is very quick to get to the heart of the matter in each scene where it appears, having an emotional resonance that is otherwise lacking except in Christopher Reeve's acting. The score helps to create a mood in many scenes where there may not have been one to begin with, and it is worth listening to on its own. As is typical of a John Carpenter score, it made me sit through the closing credits from start to finish on the strength of the music, a very strong plus where I am concerned.
The surround channels were sporadically active to support special effects and music, creating an immersive soundfield when they were present. The scenes in which the children use their amazing hypnotic powers are the ones that generally sound the best and get the most usage out of the surround channels. In essence, the film has a stereo mix with some surround elements, with the immersive wall of sound built during the more horrific scenes collapsing into a frontal stereo mix during many of the dialogue sequences.
The subwoofer was present to support some sound effects and the music, and it did this well without making itself conspicuous, unlike the surround channels.
The video quality is good, but let down by a little too much aliasing.
The audio quality is good, but let down by inconsistent use of the surround channels.
The extras are limited.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|