Scream Factory has a long and involved history with the work of John Carpenter, with quality special editions for films like The Fog, They Live and Prince Of Darkness. They just moved a little deeper into the Carpenter filmography with Village Of The Damned and the results are a surprisingly involved special edition for one of the more overlooked titles in the director’s catalog.
The transfer has a nice color palette and strong and some nice moments of detail but also has some noticeable edge enhancement throughout. If you can overlook the latter issue, it still offers a boost from the old SD versions of this title. Audio fares better: both 5.1 and 2.0 lossless stereo tracks are included. The 5.1 track was used for this review and it’s a powerful one, with a nice use of Carpenter’s electronic score and some great surround effects involving the film’s killer kids (look out for the sound effect that accompanies the moments where their eyes glow).
There are also a few hours’ worth of special features on this disc for fans to sift through…
It Takes A Village (49:17): A new retrospective featurette about the film that includes Carpenter, producer Sandy King, FX designer Greg Nicotero and several cast members, including a group of the former child actors who played the film’s killer kids. You’ll learn the backroom dealings that led to Carpenter doing this film, some fun acting stories from Karen Kahn and Meredith Salenger, several nice tributes to sadly departed lead actor Christopher Reeve and some insight into how Universal adversely affected the film by rushing it through post-production and forcing some drastic cutting.
Despite the length, it’s a light and fast-moving piece with a lot of humor to it. The ex-kid actors, including leads Thomas Dekker and Lindsey Haun, add to the humor with their recollections of the joy they took in playing bad kids, what it was like working with their older castmates and the traumas involved in the work, particularly the bleaching of their hair.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (20:58): a new installment in this ongoing series that has host Sean Clark visiting several of the film’s Californian locations. Fans will be interested to learn that the film shares a few locations with a prior Carpenter favorite, The Fog.
The Go To Guy (45:13): This is a delightful interview with actor and sometime producer Peter Jason, who did extensive work in Carpenter’s latter-day films. This segment simply allows Jason to tell a variety of tales about his history with Carpenter, going film by film. This turns up some Roddy Piper stories from They Live, a particularly hilarious tale about how he earned his cameo in Body Bags and an eye-opening tale about how he defused a feud between Carpenter and Reeves on the Village Of The Damned set. Jason reveals himself to be extemely fond of Carpenter but he’s also playful enough to bust the director’s chops here and there – and there’s even a surprise story about Orson Welles! In short, a must-view for Carpenter fans.
Vintage Interviews and Behind-The-Scenes (24:40): This starts with about 14 minutes’ worth of interview clips designed for EPK purposes, including some lively quips from Carpenter and appearances by Reeves, Kirstie Alley and Linda Kozlowski. The rest is devoted to on-set video footage of Carpenter directing on the set, including a visit from Wolf Rilla, director of the original Village Of The Damned.
Additional Extras: there is a brief image gallery with stills and ad art plus a theatrical trailer that leans on the killer kids angle.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Village Of The Damned, click here.