John Carpenter has certainly made his mark in the horror genre. Between creating the Halloween franchise, and giving us countless other 80’s classics like They Live, Escape from New York, and The Fog, he’s also known for directing a remake that many consider to be superior to the original.
In fact, most people forget that The Thing was a remake of a 50’s sci-fi classic, just because of how iconic it is. But while this remake is unanimously praised, many forget and overlook another remake of a classic horror film that Carpenter made.
In 1995, his remake of the 1960 classic Village of the Damned was released, to mediocre reviews at best. Now that his version is celebrating its 25th anniversary, we thought it deserved another look. So here are 25 fun facts about John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned:
1. John Carpenter has gone on to admit that this film wasn’t really a passion project of his, and was done more out of contractual obligation.
2. Initially, Carpenter wanted to remake Creature from the Black Lagoon. And the plan was to make that after Village of the Damned, but due to its low box office performance, his true passion project never came to be.
Though Carpenter did praise Christopher Reeve’s performance, stating that it’s what gave the film value.
3. Sadly, this was the last movie that Christopher Reeve did before his tragic horseback riding accident, which left him paralyzed from the neck down.
The accident occurred on May 28, 1995, just one month after the release of Village of the Damned.
4. 1995 was originally going to be something of a comeback year for Christopher Reeve. He starred in this film, as well as Above Suspicion, and he was scheduled to star in a movie that would have reunited him with Superman director Richard Donner.
But all of this was tragically cut short due to his accident. Although he did continue to act and direct here and there in TV movies. He even appeared in an episode of Smallville over a decade later.
5. Speaking of Superman, this movie had the distinction of starring two actors who played major DC characters, the other being Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker in the Batman animated universe.
6. Carpenter shot the film and around Inverness, CA, a town that he had lived in, and shot The Fog in as well.
7. This time however, the residents weren’t very receptive of the film production, and often made noisy disruptions until they were paid to stop.
8. While many consider this to be an American remake of a British property (like The Office), the original film (and novel) had an “American” version which was slightly different.
9. The main reason that Universal wanted to remake it was they felt that the original couldn’t really delved into matters of pregnancy or abortion, because those were very taboo subjects in 1960.
10. Carpenter himself felt that the original didn’t go far enough with the extra-terrestrial angle, and thus wanted to update that as well.
11. His remake also included much more graphic violence, something else that wasn’t common in 1960.
12. As is common with many of his films. Carpenter composed music for the film.
13. Carpenter also had a cameo, using his usual pseudonym, Rip Haight. He is credited by this name in Body Bags, The Fog, and Starman.
14. According to the child actors, Christopher Reeve (who was known for being very kind and outgoing) kept his distance from them during filming, so as to create a feeling of uncomfortable unfamiliarity with them.
15. Horror icon Greg Nicotero (Walking Dead, Shudder’s Creepshow) worked on makeup effects for the film.
16. The film’s Director of Photography, Gary B. Kibbe, was a frequent Carpenter collaborator who also shot They Live, Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from LA, In the Mouth of Madness, Ghosts of Mars, and Prince of Darkness.
17. Originally, there was a scene of the children as newborns all looking up at the same time, but it was ultimately cut.
18. The visual effects in post-production were done by George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic, which mostly consisted of the children’s eye color changes.
19. There was actually quite a bit of thinking that went into the color of the children’s eyes. Originally, Carpenter just wanted them to be black all the time, and even had contact lenses made, but they were never used.
20. The child David, who was unlike the other children was played by Michael Dekker, who would go on to further fame when he starred as John Connor in the Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox.
21. The makeup team used both wigs and bleaching to get the children’s hair to be pure white.
22. During the “torch mob” scene, the minister’s wife directly quotes the Book of Job when shouting at the children.
23. The film wound up being a box office flop, part of which was blamed on an inflated budget caused by the salaries of big name actors like Christopher Reeve, Mark Hamill, and Kirstie Alley.
24. It was nominated for the worst remake or sequel Razzie, but “lost” to The Scarlett Letter.
25. In addition to be being a box office flop, it remains the 3rd lowest rated Carpenter movie on Rotten Tomatoes, just behind Ghosts of Mars and Memoirs of an Invisible Man.
What did you think of the remake? Do you prefer it or the original? Let us know in the comments!
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