Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Damned - Hammers forgotten Sci-fi chiller.

Oliver Reed terrorises Weymouth!

Hammer will always be associated with gothic horror films such as Dracula and Frankenstien but in 1961, they started work on The Damned, loosely based on H. L. Lawrences’ The Children Of Light.  Oliver Reed plays King, a psychopath who leads a gang of Teddy Boys who wreak havoc in a sleepy seaside town when American tourist Simon Wells (Macdonald Carey) is mugged by his gang including his sister Joanie (Shirley Ann Field).  Wells tracks her down and together they plan to leave together but King won’t let her go that easy and orders his gang to keep a lookout for them and they are forced on the run from King and his gang.  Cornered by what looks like a military establishment,  Joanie and Wells take their chances and  scale the barbed wire fences to escape the gang before falling down a cliff face and being rescued by a group of children.
Though as you would expect with Hammer, these are no ordinary children but part of an experiment by the secretive Bernard (Alexander Knox), who teaches the children via a TV screen and says all will be revealed when the time comes. The children are ice cold and radioactive and Bernard is preparing them to withstand the imminent nuclear holocaust.  
After completion, it sat in Hammers vaults as they struggled to find a distributor and it wasn’t until May 1963 that the film was finally unleashed on the public. It had cost over £170,000 to make and in 1965 was released in America as These Are The Damned.
The Teddy Boys, which included a pre Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) Kenneth Cope, are more like the Ton Up boys or Rockers with their Triumph motorcycles and leather jackets and communicate to each other by whistling a tune, Black leather Rock, a Bill Haley inspired song which was written for the film.  A good film that belies it age, it’s well worth looking out for. Here's the intro for you!

To buy it, click here

Originally published 20th March 2012.

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