Beware the Stare of the Midwich Cuckoos: senryu poetry

The Village of the Damned | Original Film Poster | Photo: Lesley Scoble

Horror is Born

The classic horror film Village of the Damned is set in the sleepy English village of Midwich. Everyone within the parameters of the village experience a blackout of consciousness. The women become pregnant and give birth to alien children. They all have blond hair, telepathic powers and evil intent.

This still shows from left to right: Myself, Mark Mileham, June Cowell, Martin Stephens and my twin sister Teresa Scoble.

Beware of the Stare

Beware of the Stare
It can make you do any Thing
We want you to do

L.S. October 2022
My ‘senryu’ poem Beware of the Stare is in response to Sunra’s guidelines for her W3 Prompt #25 on David’s Weekly Poetry Prompt.
I chose from the Option #1 list to ‘Write from the point of view from a character in a particular scene from a horror film.’ 
(I also wrote from Option #2 about sneaking in to see the set of Frankenstein when I was a child. ‘An experience that gave me a chill.’)
The Poetry Prompt Options
Option #1: Write an an ekphrastic poem in response to a horror film that gave you the chills.
  • Interview with a Vampire, Halloween, The Babadook, to name a few. 
  • Comedy horror, such as The Addams Family or Shaun of the Dead, etc. 
  • Write from the point of view of one of the characters, or respond to a particular scene, whatever you prefer.
Option #2: Write about an experience that gave you the chills, any form permitted.
When I was ten I played a Midwich Cuckoo in the iconic film The Village of the Damned starring Martin Stephens, George Sanders and Barbara Shelley. Director Wolf Rilla.
My senryu is from my POV of the character I played in this horror movie.
Lesley Scoble senryu October 2022

The Brick Wall

You think a brick wall 
And a ticking bomb is all 
It takes to end us?

L. S. October 2022
This rare clip shows a final moment from the lost British print of the film. The original British release had no special FX. The later American release added luminous special FX to the children's eyes. 

Horror Film with an X Certificate

I only saw the Film The Village of the Damned in recent years at a film festival (it impressed me!). When the film first came out, it rated an X Certificate, meaning that children could not see it—even if you were an actor in it! The rules were strict. They even applied when entering a horror stage within the film studios (unless working on it).

A wonderful memory I have ‘that gave me a chill’ is when I wanted to see the set of the great horror picture Frankenstein that was filming in a neighbouring stage to ours. 

On the set of Frankenstein

During a break at the studios, I wanted to take a peek at the set. I was told no. I bided my time and snuck in when everyone had gone to lunch (I was a child and sometimes didn’t do as I was told!). I do not regret one bit of my disobedience. 

The vast deserted stage, and the set of Frankenstein, was silent and creepy. The steep horror style gothic mansion staircase was begging to be climbed. 

At the top, I was the queen of Frankenstein’s monster castle. It was scary, dramatic and wonderful! The smell of the scenery, props and gothic grandeur of it remains with me today.

My thanks to Sunra for her ‘Horror of a Prompt’. My thanks also to David of Skeptic Kaddish for his Weekly Prompt. This is my first attempt at Senryu, so my humble apologies to the Japanese and masters of this poetry form.

The Village of the Damned today, still has a large following of fans. Remarkable, considering how long it is since we made it. The image below shows me (on the right) at the Fantastic Films Festival on stage receiving an award with Martin Stephens and my sister.


  1. Lesley, that’s amazing! 😀 I love the photos you’ve shared, how spooky you all look! Fascinating that they didn’t even let the kids in the film watch it either. Congratulations on this, what a great achievement to have under your belt! The senryus really accent the images well almost like a word and image poem or a photomontage poem 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heh heh, it’s called acting, David 😁

    Martin Stephens, June Cowell, Myself. Mark Mileham, and also my sister Teresa, were the main group of child actors. Others included Peter Preidel and Malcolm Knight.

    Hope my attempt at the senryu didn’t get lost in the post. Mursopsis kindly suggested it might be “more haibun” than senryu. Looks like I’ve yet more studying to do!

    Thank you so much for your interest David xx means a lot,
    L 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

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