The brilliance lies in setting the first rumbles of the new decade in a droll British burg, and giving them a droll British assessment. The entire populace is knocked out for a few hours, illustrated in the quietly unnerving collage of dangling telephones, running faucets, burning ironing boards; some time later it's revealed that the womenfolk are pregnant, which brings joy to the childless resident egghead (George Sanders), friction to the village husbands, and dismay to the virgins. It's "not right ethically," the vicar says, but twelve babies are soon born and the professor who was at first happy to welcome a son is left to ponder its "strange eyes" in the cradle, a shot paid verbatim homage in Rosemary's Baby. Kierkegaard once equated the dread of childbirth to that of death ("...the spirit trembles"), Losey would later envision a race of glacial children ultimately reduced to lost voices in The Damned. Between them are the "world's new people" -- saturnine little brainiacs, platinum-haired and glowing-eyed, precocious genius mixed with juvenile cruelty. The toddler telepathically wills mum (Barbara Shelly) to scald herself when she by mistake gives him hot milk, the prepubescent boy (Martin Stephens) and the emotionless brood make a vengeful villager turn his own gun on himself. Commie infiltrators? Bastard aliens? Advertisements for the pill? Wolf Rilla keeps a cool grip over the heady material (John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos is the basis), outlining vivid horrors -- unwanted pregnancies, a cuckold's confusion, rejection by one's offspring. Faced with uncontrollable creations, the scientific mind transforms itself into a bricked wall, which readily crumbles: Behind it await the modernist upheavals of the Sixties, an altogether different batch of children. With Michael Gwynn. In black and white.
--- Fernando F. Croce