The legendary Berwyn/Chicago-based sci-fi/thriller film host will present his big coast-to-coast broadcast premiere of “Village of the Damned” (1960), this Sat., Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on Me-TV.
The classic 1960 MGM sci-fi thriller production was directed by Wolf Rilla and was produced by Ronald Kinnoch. Rilla and Kinnoch (under the pseudonym of George Barclay for Ronald Kinnoch’s screenwriting position) also co-wrote the screenplay for “Village of the Damned” with screenwriter Stirling Silliphant (Silliphant was best known as the creator of the 1958-62 Columbia/Screen Gems TV adaptation of “Naked City” from 1958-63 and the studio’s “Route 66” TV series from 1960-64). Rilla, Kinnoch/Barclay and Silliphant’s screenplay treatment was adapted from the John Wyndham (a.k.a. John Harris) novel, “The Midwich Cuckoos.” Exterior scenes of Rilla’s MGM sci-fi thriller were filmed on location in the village of Letchmore Heath, England; according to Jeff Stafford’s Turner Classic Movies article on “Village of the Damned” (1960).
Who was in “Village of the Damned” (1960)?
The players who appeared in “Village of the Damned” (1960) were George Sanders (as Gordon Zellaby), Barbara Shelley (as Anthea Zellaby), Michael Gwynn (as Maj. Alan Bernard), Laurence Naismith (as Dr. Willers), John Phillips (as Gen. Leighton)*, Richard Vernon (as Sir Edgar Hargraves), Jenny Laird (as Mrs. Harrington), Thomas Heathcote (as James Pawle), Martin Stephens (as David Zellaby), Charlotte Mitchell (as Janet Pawle), Richard Warner (as Harrington), Sarah Long (as Evelyn Harrington), Pamela Buck (as Milly Hughes), Rosamund Greenwood (as Ms. Ogle) and Susan Richards (as Mrs. Plumpton).
Veteran actor George Sanders was best known for his numerous screen roles, including his title role of Simon Templar in the RKO Radio Pictures screen series adaptation of Leslie Charteris’ “The Saint” from 1939–41 and in the title role of Gay Lawrence in the RKO screen adaptation series of Michael Arlen’s “The Falcon” from 1941–42. Sanders won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his characterization of Addison DeWitt in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s critically-acclaimed Twentieth Century Fox drama with Bette Davis, “All About Eve” (1950).
Barbara Shelley was known for her various British horror film appearances, including her role of Carla Hoffman in Terence Fisher’s Columbia–Hammer monster classic with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, “The Gorgon” (1964). Michael Gwynn previously appeared in the role of Karl in Fisher’s Columbia-Hammer monster classic with Cushing, “The Revenge of Frankenstein” (1958) and was later known for his guest role of Lord Melbury in the pilot episode of the John Cleese–BBC comedy, “Fawlty Towers” (“A Touch of Class” in 1975).
George Sanders was not the first choice for the role of Gordon Zellaby in “Village of the Damned” (1960)
According to IMDB, George Sanders was not the first choice for the role of Gordon Zellaby in Wolf Rilla’s MGM thriller. Veteran actor Ronald Colman was originally considered for the role of Gordon Zellaby when the studio originally planned to produce the screen adaption of Wyndham/Harris’ sci-fi thriller novel in 1957. Coleman was in ill health and died in 1958. The MGM feature project would not continue until 1960.
MGM’s “spooky” film poster artwork design for “Village of the Damned” (1960)
According to additional details from Jeff Stafford’s article on “Village of the Damned” (1960), many theatergoers were not only spooked by Rilla’s sci-fi thriller, they were also “spooked” by MGM’s poster artwork for the theatrical release of “Village of the Damned.”
The famed “eye glowing” visual effect
The “eye glowing” visual effects for the village children in “Village of the Damned” (1960) was perfected with the use of an optical photographic negative matte effect technique, according to additional information from IMDB. The British MGM theatrical print did not contain the “eye glowing” effects to comply with Britain’s film classification/certification protocol.
Sequel and latter re-make
According to additional information from Jeff Stafford’s TCM article, the 1960 MGM-Villa production of “Village of the Damned” was a smash success throughout Britain and the United States. Four years later, Anton M. Leader directed the MGM sci-fi thriller sequel, “Children of the Damned” (1964); with Clive Powell, Bessie Love, Martin Miller, Ian Hendry, Barbara Ferris and Roberta Rex.
35 years after Wolf Rilla’s original film adaptation of John Wyndham/Harris’ novel, veteran writer-director John Carpenter directed the Universal Studios sci-fi thriller re-make of “Village of the Damned” (1965) with Christopher Reeve (of “Superman” fame), Mark Hamill (of “Star Wars” fame), Kirstie Alley (of “Cheers” fame), Cody Dorkin, Trishalee Hardy and Jessye Quarry.
Be sure to watch/record Svengoolie’s big coast-to-coast broadcast premiere of “Village of the Damned” (1960), this Sat. on Me-TV!
With George Sanders, Michael Gwynn, Barbara Shelley, Laurence Naismith, John Phillips*, Richard Vernon, Jenny Laird, Thomas Heathcote, Martin Stephens, Charlotte Mitchell, Richard Warner, Sarah Long, Pamela Buck, Rosamund Greenwood and Susan Richards, you will not want to miss out on Svengoolie and his big coast-to-coast broadcast premiere of “Village of the Damned” (1960), this Sat. on Me-TV! You will not be disappointed! Perfect for all fellow super SvenPals and fellow sci-fi thriller feature film aficionados everywhere with Sven’s extensive fun facts, Doug Graves’ parody tune and Kerwyn’s “mail call” segment! Highly recommended!
In the Frederick, Maryland/Washington, D.C. area: WTTG-5.3/Cable 196/FiOS 489/Antietam Cable 194 (also on QAM digital 68.6 for Antietam cable subscribers)
In the Baltimore, Maryland area: WBAL-TV 11.2/Cable 208/FiOS 460
In the Hanover/Gettysburg/York, Pennsylvania area: WGAL-TV 8.2/Cable 248/FiOS 460
Live-tweet with all fellow super SvenPals everywhere from coast-to-coast this Sat. (via Twitter) during #Svengoolie and his big Me-TV broadcast premiere of “Village of the Damned” (1960)!
Svengoolie’s Berwyn/Chicago introduction to “Village of the Damned” from his past WCIU-TV 26 “The U” big broadcast of the classic 1960 MGM sci-fi thriller, via fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal David Fuentes and his official “Terror From Beyond the Dave” YouTube channel!
Me-TV has recently announced that episodes of the classic hit 1960-66 William Hanna–Joseph Barbera animated comedy series, “The Flintstones” will be coming to the network beginning on Mon., Sept. 30 with two back-to-back episodes weeknights at 6 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Central and 6:30 p.m. Eastern/5:30 p.m. Central! If you missed out on the original ABC network airings of the Hanna-Barbera series or the later syndicated TV/cable runs, now you have the chance to experience and/or re-experience the animated Bedrock stone-age hilarity of Fred, Wilma, Pebbles, Dino, Barney, Betty, Bamm-Bamm and many others (through the vocal stylings of Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, Mel Blanc, Bea Benaderet, Don Messick, Daws Butler, Harvey Korman, Howard Morris and numerous guest actors!)
Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals of Berwyn/Chicago, Illinois and beyond! Svengoolie will be making an upcoming appearance in his hometown of Berwyn, Illinois at the 2019/29th annual “Berwyn Route 66 Car Show” on the pavement of historic Route 66 on Sat., Aug. 24 from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. (local time, on Odgen Ave.; between Oak Park Ave. and Ridgeland Ave. in Berwyn, Illinois; according to the official event map)! Sven will be having a meet-and-greet photo/autograph session at the Route 66 car show event! Plus, there will be a military salute, classic automobiles, food, a professional Elvis Presley impersonator and much more at the Berwyn Route 66 car show event!
To all fellow super SvenPals of Berwyn/Chicago, Illinois and beyond who are attending the 2019 “Berwyn Route 66 Car Show” event, have fun seeing/meeting Sven in-person and experience the additional events at the “Berwyn Route 66 Car Show!” –C.H.
Extra! Extra! Extra! Cameo mentions of fellow super SvenPals!
Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal David Fuentes recently published his latest “Terror From Beyond the Dave” article on his recent visit with Svengoolie during the 2019 “Flashback Weekend” convention (in commemoration of Svengoolie’s 40th anniversary in television, under the “Flashback Weekend Diaries” article series on his blog, along with behind-the-scenes info and a “rubber chicken” surprise)!
Congratulations, David and to all fellow super SvenPals everywhere who attended “Flashback Weekend” from all of us fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere on meeting Sven in-person again during Sven’s recent “Flashback Weekend” 2019 appearance! We’re all proud of you and we’re all jumping for joy! Keep up the excellent work, sir! Two thumbs up, kudos, three cheers, peace & “Hi-Keeba” from the entire crowd of fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere! -C.H.
Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals from coast-to-coast jumped for joy when Sven made a mention of the fellow Buffalo super Svengoolie SvenPals of Buffalo, New York Me-TV affiliate WBBZ-TV during Svengoolie and Kerwyn’s “mail call” on their Aug. 10 big Me-TV broadcast of the classic Warner Bros. screen thriller with Vincent Price, “House of Wax” (1953)! For Svengoolie (Mr. Rich Koz)’s 40th anniversary in television, the Buffalo super SvenPals of WBBZ and the Buffalo-based beatnik classic/cult film show, “Off Beat Cinema” sent Sven a package of Chocolate “Buffalo Chicken Wings” along with a custom Sven 40th anniversary card signed by the fellow super SvenPals of WBBZ-TV and “Off Beat Cinema!”
Congratulations to the entire crowd of fellow Buffalo super SvenPals at WBBZ-TV & “Off Beat Cinema” on their cool, neat and awesome Chocolate “Buffalo Chicken Wings” creation/Sven 40th anniversary card that was showcased on Sven & Kerwyn’s “mail call” segment from the entire crowd of fellow super SvenPals everywhere! Keep up the excellent work and keep on entertaining Buffalo with Sven, Me-TV and “Off Beat Cinema!” We’re all proud of you and we’re all jumping for joy! Two thumbs up, kudos, cheers, peace and “Hi-Keeba” from the entire crowd of fellow super SvenPals everywhere! -C.H.
Be sure to give generously/spread the word/help out one of the friends of fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Jamie Lee from the PM&L Theatre players ensemble by donating whatever you can/spreading the word to her friend’s official “GoFundMe” fund site to help offset expensive costs of additional medical-related treatments. Give generously/spread the word to help out one of Jamie’s friends from the PM&L players troupe! Any amount helps! –C.H.
In connection to “Village of the Damned” (1960):
“Village of the Damned” (1960) is available on Blu-Ray through Warners’ “Warner Archive” line and is also available on the “Village of the Damned”/”Children of the Damned” double-feature DVD film set from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (part of the studio’s Turner Entertainment/pre-1986 MGM holdings)*. The 1960 MGM sci-fi thriller classic is also available for streaming from Warners through participating streaming/video-on-demand providers.
*Sidebar: Part of Warners’ ownership of the Turner Entertainment/pre-1986 MGM film, TV, cartoon and short subject holdings; Time Warner/the future Warner Media merged with Ted Turner’s media/cable properties in 1996; Turner purchased the aforementioned classic MGM holdings around summer 1986 after his brief ownership of MGM. -C.H.
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