So, I recently bought a, "John Carpenter," box set, containing four of his films and how they chose this miss-mash of varying quality is beyond me. Included on these two discs were: The Thing, They Live, Prince of Darkness, and Village of the Damned.
Obviously, The Thing is amazing, as any child with mild down syndrome would know and They Live holds up like crazy; it's just fantastic, cheesy fun (and it was really the reason I bought the set, as I only owned it on VHS and already had a copy of the thing on Blu-Ray). I had seen Prince of Darkness before, years ago and remembered it not-so-fondly. It was even worse than I remember. Other than some choice bits of terrifying imagery, and kind of mind-blowing ideas of Satan's remains being hidden under an inner-city church, it's shit fest. But you know, it wasn't the reason I bought the set in the first place, so no big deal, maybe I can even watch it to make fun of as I do with every shitty film I own at some point or another. I'm ready to move on to the next and final film.
This was my first viewing of Village of the Damned. I can't really express the disdain I now have for this film. It almost feels as though the film is it's own entity, who fought and kind of defeated the once great John Carpenter, though Vampires didn't help. From the sub-par acting on all counts, with the exception of Christopher Reeve, who gives a perfectly palatable performance, to the effects that border on 90's Sci-Fi original's, every facet of this film is pure suck. Without all of the stylish horror and gore and haunting imagery that Carpenter's name is so synonymous with, well, maybe not anymore, there's nothing here to denote any involvement by the director.
Picture the scene in The Thing where a mid-transformation Bennings is knelt in the snow, amidst a flaming fuel puddle, holding his deformed arm and gazing at the group of scientists surrounding him with pitch black eyes. He opens his mouth and, rather than speaking in his usual, human tongue, he emits an un-earthly sound that chills your blood. Now go watch the scene in Village of the Damne d where Kirstie Al ley reveals a dead mutant/alien baby to a group of older, smarter mutant alien babies. What is that? That is so horrible and cheesy, not in the good way, and such a polar opposite to the Thing's haunting imagery that it could have closely assimilated.
Though, a more important question to why did the film sucked is why did they choose to put it in this set? There are many, much more serviceable films of Carpenter's that could have been included: Halloween, Escape From New York, Big Trouble in Little China, Assault on Precinct 13, Starman, and In the Mouth of Madness would all have been great contributions to this set.
I'm sad I decided to buy this rather than just buy They Live for three bucks online. Live and Learn.