These Are The Damned (1964)
Anyone who's ever seen Quadrophenia will know how crap that whole "Mods and Rockers" thing was. I mean, travelling all the way to the seaside to kick someone's head in? Have you been to Rhyl recently?
I'd rather spend my Sundays sat on my arse watching old horror films (and I do). Of course, there's a whole load of films devoted to that particular period of time, and they're all bollocks.
But they were all also made a long time afterwards, looking back with rose tinted spectacles. The question is, what did film makers at the time make of it all? Well, not much - if These Are The Damned is anything to go by.
It's actually quite a chilling little film once it gets going - in a kind of John Wyndham "Midwich Cuckoos" kind of way. In fact, it would make a great triple bill along with Village and Children Of The Damned. The problem is the first bit, which sets the scene through a little bit of gang violence as jolly Ollie Reed and his bunch of hellraisers lay waste to Weymouth. It's not the violence that's the problem - it's actually quite well done and brutal, and could well be an influence on A Clockwork Orange (which came along 10 years later).
It's not even the setting (I mean - Weymouth? I'm sure the place itself is lovely, but it's hardly the Cote D'Azure, is it? It's not even Brighton).
No, the problem is that these "teenage" tearaways are a middle-aged film director's idea of "the kids". Apart from the vicious beating they dole out to Simon the American (who quite frankly deserves it, the dirty old man), everything else they do is pretty tame - especially when compared to the excesses of Clockwork Orange.
They're first spotted listening to some bloody awful song which has the lyrics "Black leather, black leather, rock rock rock" - a song so truly dreadful that the film makers decided to repeat it through most of the rest of the film.
They also do mock army drills on the prom (scary) and shout things like "Last one to the Unicorn's a cube!". Well, I for one would shit my pants if anyone started acting like that in my vicinity, I can tell you.
Apart from that the film's bizarre storyline, which suddenly stops being a tale of teen angst and dips its toe into much murkier waters, is enough to hold the interest over an hour and a half, even if Simon seems to forgive Joan the teenage temptress rather too easily.
It's actually an extremely grim affair once the pathetic gang antics are over and done with - evil Ollie's redemption is quite short-lived, and everyone either dies from radiation poisoning or gets shot.
The final scene, with the trapped children's voices crying "Someone help us - please help us!" is possibly one of the most depressing and thought provoking on this site. And that's saying something - even if the thought you're usually left with at the end of these films is "I wasted 90 minutes of my life for that?"
Last updated: February 22, 2010
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