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The studio didn’t expect Village of the Damned to be the success that it was, but when something works, do it again. At least, that’s what MGM thought when they pursued a sequel which became Children of the Damned.
“Beware the eyes that paralyze!” shouted the movie’s poster which promised a film that was even more eerie than its predecessor. That wasn’t true though.
Children with supernatural powers can certainly chill, but that wasn’t the intention this time around. Rather screenwriter John Briley wanted to tell a morality tale.
“One of the great fears during the Cold War was that so many of these instruments of mass destruction were trigged to go off,” Briley said. “The time period between a missile being sent from Russia was so small to [determine] whether it was actually an attack that the responses had to instantaneous.”
According to Briley, the studio expected the film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, since there were fewer movies competing in that category.
While the film was based on The Midwich Cuckoos, author John Wyndham felt that the story was so different and advocated for Briley to receive sole credit for its creation.
Children like Village also featured the children with glowing eyes – something Briley didn’t want because he felt it was unnecessary. However, the studio credited much of the original’s success to the glowing eyes. Two versions of the sequel were shown – one with glowing eyes and one without – and the reception toward the glowing won out.
Perhaps another reason Briley preferred normal eyes was because the children in his version aren’t evil. Rather, they respond defensively when they feel threatened.
Briley said, “The children in this screenplay are mysteries until the very end.”