While on holiday in Weymouth, Forset, American boat owner Simon Wells (Macdonald Carey) is violently mugged by teddy boy thug, King (Oliver Reed), and his biker gang, having been lured into a backstreet by King’s sister Joanie (Shirley Anne Field).
Black leather, black leather, smash, smash, smash
Black leather, black leather, crash, crash, crash
Black leather, black leather, kill, kill, kill
I’ve got that feelin’, black leather rock
Wells is found by two army security officers from a secret research facility near the town and, on being taken to a hotel to clean up, meets Dr Bernard (Alexander Knox), the scientist in charge of the secret facility – the Edgecliff Establishment – and his girlfriend Freya Neilson (Viveca Lindfors), a beautiful sculptress who occupies a cottage – “The Birdhouse” – built into the cliff nearby.
Feeling guilty the next day, Joan comes to see Simon, and when her brother’s gang follow her she goes out to sea on his motor yacht, the Dolce Vita.
They land along the coast and hide from the gang in Freya’s cottage. After dark, they leave and are chased once more by the gang, this time towards the Edgecliff Establishment.
Going over the barbed wire surrounding the facility, Simon, Joanie and King fall over the cliff into the water.
Simon and Joan are rescued by a group of nine children – mysteriously ice cold to the touch – who take them to shelter in a cave in the cliffs.
King encounters the children too, who are being raised at the Edgecliff Establishment in laboratory conditions, under the supervision of Dr Bernard.
Knowing the children are radioactive – the secret project is a government programme in which the radioactive children (all aged 11 and born in the same week) are being trained to repopulate the planet after a nuclear war – Bernard makes desperate efforts to get the adults out, but they misinterpret his motives and escape with the children through an entrance to the caves behind Freya’s cottage.
This post-nuclear dynasty bears the names of kings and queens of England. The children are called Victoria, Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, Richard, Henry, William, Charles and George.
Bernard and his men arrive and recapture all but one of the children, who escapes with King in Freya’s car. Men in helicopters rescue the child and then force King to plunge the car off a bridge.
Simon and Joan are told that they will die of radiation sickness and can go off in their boat.
Bernard then asks Freya to forget all that she has seen, but she refuses and he is forced to shoot her in order to keep his work secret.
The plot – which mixes romance, doom-laden science-fiction, elements of a British Hells Angels exploitation movie and a state conspiracy potboiler – never really fuses.
Director Joseph Losey was an American who left Hollywood for England during the McCarthy era. He was commissioned by Hammer to make The Damned based on H.L. Lawrence’s 1960 novel The Children of Light.
The film was released in North America as These Are the Damned.
Shirley Anne Field