Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #87: "The Damned" (1962)

Note: This movie was released in the U.S. under the name “These Are the Damned.”

Movie Stats:
Released 1962 (Australia)
British, in English
Director - Joseph Losey
Stars - Macdonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field, Oliver Reed

Plot Summary:
When Joan (Field), member of a beatnik motorcycle gang led by her brother King (Reed), takes up with American tourist Simon (Carey), the three of them stumble upon a government facility that houses a group of unusual children.

Violence; implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
It takes a while to find its feet/get to the point.

For most of the film, the character of Freya (Viveca Lindfors) seemed superfluous. Although I liked the actress and the character, I kept wondering what her storyline was doing there. It didn’t make much sense until the very end. I didn’t like that puzzling over it kept drawing me out of the film.

Good Stuff:
I know you probably read the plot summary and either thought, “Huh?” or “That sounds ridiculous” but it’s really not. It’s actually really interesting, and apart from the slow start, it’s paced well, with the layers and secrets peeling back slowly.

[Vaguely SPOILERish]
I loved how it was such a movie of its time, with the beatniks, the soundtrack, the anxiety about “youth gone wild,” and the Atomic fear mongering.

The acting is great. I liked everyone in it, but found myself particularly drawn to Reed. He had that charisma that all great actors have. He commands attention every time he’s on-screen.

The Verdict:
I seriously thought I was going to hate it. From the description, it sounded stupid and cheesy. I expected B-movie quality. What I got was a serious, well-crafted film with a surprisingly dark ending, a film that asks a lot of tough questions. At the time it was released, it must have felt incredibly relevant. Is it sci fi? I don’t think it really qualifies, but I also don’t much care. Without this project, I never would have seen it, and that would've been a shame. A hidden gem.

I give it 4.25 stars.


Patricia said...

I've never heard of this! And you had me at beatnik motorcycle gang. :-)

balyien said...

A beatnik motorcycle gang; not even half as ridiculous as most of the gangs in "The Warriors" ;)