In the 1960s, director and screenwriter John Briley introduced the world to the bizarre horror film Children of the Damned, although at the time the film wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. Two decades later, Briley won an Academy Award, but not for this film.
If you want to understand how it all began for John Briley, you can still see Children of the Damned on HBO Max, but you’d better hurry, since word on the street is that it’s coming out soon.
Briley loved Britain so much that he stayed there, taking advantage of the astonishing creativity of the British people in the 1960s. It’s easy to see why, when the British Film Institute compiled its Top 100 Films of the 20th Century, 26 of them came from the 1960s.
Children of the Damned, the 1964 film directed by Anton Leader and scripted by Briley, is not on this list, however.
Children of the Damned, a film that deserved more attention
This is, however, a very good horror film that feels more like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s a sequel to Village of the Damned, an appreciated sci-fi/horror film. The sequel retains many of the original ideas of that film, but transports the plot to London.
A team of UNESCO scientists are studying child development when two researchers, Dr. David Neville (Alan Badel) and Col. Tom Lewellin (Ian Hendry), come across an unusual child named Paul (Clive Powell). Incredibly clever, Paul is able to solve puzzles in record time. They also become interested in the boy’s mother, Diana (Sheila Allen), to see if his intelligence is inherited from her.
Diana shows no signs of wanting to cooperate, showing them the door when they ask about Paul’s father. Later, she chastises Paul, telling him how much she hates him.