These are the Damned (1963)

“Children of Ice and Darkness … They are the Lurking, Unseen Evil You Dare Not Face Alone!” An offbeat British science fiction film released by Hammer Films, These are the Damned (AKA The Damned) was based on H.L. Lawrence’s novel The Children of Light and directed by Joseph Losey (The Servant). An American tourist, “Simon Wells” (MacDonald Carey), gets beaten and robbed by a gang of leather-clad thugs led by “King” (Oliver Reed) while on a boating holiday. Through a series of peculiar circumstances, King’s beautiful sister, “Joan” (Shirley Anne Field), joins Simon on the boat – much to the chagrin of her overprotective brother. The couple returns to shore and evades the gang by illegally entering a secret military compound atop a cliff overlooking the ocean – home to nine mutant children who are highly radioactive and therefore able to survive a nuclear war. Therefore, they are kept as isolated prisoners in the bunker. With help from the adult intruders, the children plot their escape from the facility. Yes, it’s as strange as it sounds – but eminently entertaining! The solid cast includes Walter Gotell as “Major Holland,” Viveca Lindfors as sculptor “Freya Neilson” and Alexander Knox as “Bernard,” the secret project’s mastermind – “A power has been released that will melt these stones. We must be ready when the time comes.” However, it’s Reed, as always, who chews the scenery and steals the show as the troubled, nihilistic “Teddy Boy” gang leader, a purveyor of senseless violence and rage. Lindfors portrayed the uninhibited “Professor Taub” in the 1985 teen comedy, The Sure Thing.

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