Wolf Rilla’s Village of the Damned (1960) begins with a mysterious and disturbing event. Everyone in the village of Midwich suddenly loses consciousness, and two months later, twelve women discover they are pregnant. Because unconscious men and women cannot have sex, a central question is raised: Who are the biological fathers? Although the residents of Midwich speculate that the children may be alien-human hybrids, an alternative explanation is more likely: They are the sons and daughters of demons.
There are many Biblical parallels in the film that suggest David Zellaby (Martin Stephens) and the children are connected with the Devil. In the Bible, the Devil tries to imitate the signs and wonders of God (e.g., the sorcerers of Pharaoh copied many of the miracles of Moses).1 The children have the power to read people’s minds, an imitation of Christ: “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?'”2 The children imitate the eyes of Christ, whose “eyes are like a flame of fire.”3 Their eyes glow like fire when they exercise telepathic control over the villager’s minds. They also parallel Christ in how they were conceived. At least four of the children are born to virgin mothers like Mary, the mother of Christ. When Doctor Willers (Laurence Naismith) informs Milly Hughes (Pamela Buck) that she is pregnant, she cries, “I’ve never—It’s impossible.” Pregnancy is impossible for Milly because she has never had sex. The vicar (Bernard Archard), who has heard the confessions of the four teenage mothers, confirms that they are virgins. However, unlike Mary who gave birth to the Son of God, the women of Midwich give birth to abominations: six boys and six girls, equal in number with Christ’s twelve disciples.
The twelve children are the “damned” in the film’s title. The phrase “the damned” means “condemned by God to suffer eternal punishment in hell.”4 Although the villagers suffer the children’s wrath, they are not the damned. They are good and decent people who do not commit any acts of evil. Christ warned of “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”5 As the sons and daughters of demons, the children are “the damned” not only because of their evil deeds, but because of their lineage.
There is a hint that the Devil may be David’s father when Doctor Willers, examining a section of David’s hair under a microscope, says it looks like a “narrow capital D.” If the Devil is David’s father, he may have left his signature “D” as evidence. In the Bible, God called King David, “a man after my own heart.”6 The Devil would say the same thing about David of Midwich.
The twelve children have a far greater intelligence than the adults in Midwich, but their lack of a conscience makes them something less than human. To be human is to have a conscience and to be constrained by it—to allow it to govern one’s behavior. The Midwich children are unrestrained, destroying not only anyone they consider a threat, but also those who are innocent and intend them no harm. Like the demons who may have spawned them, the children are evil.
- Exodus 7:11
- Matthew 9:4 (English Standard Version).
- Revelation 19:12 (International Standard Version).
- Oxford Dictionary, s.v. “Damned,” accessed April 19, 2015, http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/damn
- Matthew 25:41 (King James Bible).
- Acts 13:22 (New International Version).