T. it.: Hallucination; T. alt. (Usa): These Are the Damned; Sog.: dal romanzo “The Children of Light” di Henry Lionel Lawrence; Scen.: Evan Jones; F.: Arthur Grant; Mo.: Regi- nald Mills; Scgf.: Richard MacDonald, Bernard Robinson; Cost.: Molly Arbuthnot; Sculture: Elizabeth Frink; Mu.: James Bernard; Su.: Jock May; Int.: Macdonald Carey (Simon Wel- ls), Shirley Ann Field (Joan), Oliver Reed (King), Alexander Knox (Bernard), Viveca Lindfors (Freya Neilson), Walter Gotell (maggiore Holland), James Villiers (capitano Gregory); Kit Williams (Henry), Rachel Clay (Victoria); Prod.: Anthony Hinds per Hammer Films Productions Limited 35 mm. D.: 96’. Bn.
The Damned is a chilling tale revolving around a ruthless teddy boy motorcycle gang and a dark experiment involving innocent children. (…) Born of mothers who died of a lethal dose of radiation, the children are radioactive too, and are being brought up in a bizarre experiment (…) in an attempt to produce an individual capable of surviving in the radioactive wastes following the inevitable nuclear holocaust. (…)
The film was deemed too long by its distributor at 100 minutes and had to be chopped down to a more manageable 87 minutes. Although Hammer were disappointed with the end result, the film surprisingly generated a great deal of critical acclaim. In particular, Films and Filming wrote: “This is undoubtedly one of the most important British films of the year, even perhaps of the 60s.” (…) Because of the rather sensitive subject matter, Hammer were unsure how to handle the picture. It took 18 months before the film was finally released in England, as a double bill with another Hammer thriller, Maniac, in [May] 1963, and even then the British publicity revolved entirely around [Oliver] Reed’s motorcycle gang, the science fiction element being considerably played down. However, the film had an even more difficult and stormy launch in America. The Damned was made as part of Hammer’s distribution deal with Columbia, and the Americans were at least astute enough to play on the science fiction side of the story, particularly in view of the success of The Vil- lage of the Damned. However, despite this and its name change to These Are the Damned, the film was consigned to Columbia’s vaults and lost, possibly still because of ill feelings towards Losey. In 1964 The Damned won the Golden Asteroid, the acclaimed prize of the Second Trieste Science Fiction Film Festival, yet still the film did not appear in America. Finally it emerged in the Summer of 1965, but only after a further 10 minutes had been extracted to give a 77-minute running time so that it could support Genghis Khan.
Wayne Kinsey, “The Damned”, in The House That Hammer Built, no. 3 (June 1997)
The Damned was Losey’s first film in Scope – in this instance, HammerScope. “You see things differently. (…) while it gives you the width it distorts the depth (…) [and] it affects camera movement because if you don’t move quite slowly you get a bad judder. I wouldn’t want to make every picture that way. On the other hand, there are certain ones like The Damned (…) that would have suffered greatly from not being that shape. In The Damned I could do long sustained shots (…) movements across land- scapes and across rocks and with boats and with helicopters, partly because of the shape of the screen (…)”
Joseph Losey, in Michel Ciment, Conversations with Losey (Methuen, 1985)