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Episode No. 41: Village of the Damned (1960)

Earlier this year, when Shout Factory announced their Blu-ray release of John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned, I can’t say I was enthusiastic about the news. It mostly served to remind me how much I wanted to like the film and that I found it hugely disappointing. Sure, it’s neatly stylish, and even cool at times. But it’s a colorfully lackluster endeavor that sure doesn’t stand up to director Wolf Rilla’s black-and-white original—a film more worthy of appreciation.

On this episode of the Diabolique Webcast, J. P. Ouellette, David Kleiler, and I discuss the 1960 original Village of the Damned, which needs the well-produced-Blu-ray-release treatment afforded its remake.

About Steve HeadAbout David KleilerAbout J. P. Ouillette

Hammer Horror: The Warner Bros Years

About Stephen Slaughter Head

Stephen Slaughter Head was co-editor of the Star Wars website, co-founder of the much-loved movie news website IGN FilmForce, and editor of the movie section at AOL’s As a film journalist he has more than 2,000 published articles at His work has also appeared on, and in Esquire magazine and the Boston Phoenix. Stephen hosts the Diabolique Webcast.


  1. An interesting fact recently uncovered by me (with a lot of help from Wyndham experts) – M-G-M/Silliphant had access to the original – unedited manuscript of the novel (the full transcript of John Wyndham’s hand-written original.) That’s two extra chapters and tens of extra pages. Mostly from the first 2/3 of the novel. So MGM were working on a script before the final version of the novel was sent for publication – not even at the galley proof stage.

    The novel was published September 1959 – Production in the UK was underway in November 1959.

    The rights were snapped up early, at a bargain price because of a perceived over-spend on the rights to ‘Death of Grass’ by John Christopher. MGM tried to off-load ‘The Death of Grass’ two months after buying it.

    In the final British version of the novel – Wyndham jumps the shark and arranges it that Zelaby (the George Sanders character) is not killing any child related to himself. Read the book to see how he wriggles out of this. The British version of the novel also gives Zealaby an ‘out’ for killing himself.

    Cudos to Steriling Silliphant for most of the key elements of the film – the mind reading (mind control in the book, but not mind reading) and the brick wall climax.

    Great podcast,


  2. Just to correct the previous post – the novel was published September 1957 not ’59.

    I’ve just finished researching ‘Village of the Damned’ – and there is enough contemporary documentation to prove that neither the Catholic Church nor the Production Code of America had any problems with Sterling Silliphant’s script – the script got the green light from the Code in December 1957 with production due to start in Spring ’58.

    On release – and remember that this is basically the original Silliphant script – the (Catholic) League of Decency gave it an A II rating – which meant it was okay for all to see other than children.

    Any delays in production seen to have been due to Milo Frank being sidelined by M-G-M and the competition for leading men, with nearly all M-G-M’s contract stars having left the studio. ‘Village’ had three false starts in Hollywood before production went ahead in the UK.

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