|Directed by||Richard Donner|
Mysterious deaths surround an American ambassador. Could the child that he is raising actually be the Antichrist? The Devil’s own son?
The Omen is a 1976 American-British supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner and written by David Seltzer. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Troughton, Martin Benson, and Leo McKern. The first installment in The Omen series, the film concerns a young child adopted at birth by American Ambassador Robert Thorn unbeknownst to his wife, after their own son is stillborn. They are surrounded by mysterious and ominous deaths, unaware that the child is the Antichrist.
Much Better Than THE EXORCIST
This movie appears in the book 50 Worst Movies Of All Time alongside such fare as ROBOT MONSTER . This is completely undeserved because i rate THE OMEN as one of the best horror movies from the 1970s , if not all time . The book in question makes a big deal of how young Damien’s parents experience some ghastly going ons without realising something is seriously wrong , but this is churlish since the audience ( like in most horror movies ) are one step in front of the protagonists , we instantly know what’s going on even if the characters on screen don’t and this is what makes the narrative so suspenseful , we’re waiting for Ambassador Robert Thorn to put two and two together . It should also be pointed out that these types of tradgedies do happen in life and there’s a rational explanation with no supernatural causes involved
Comparisons with both THE OMEN and THE EXORCIST will be made but this is by much the better film I think . Both films deal with satanic powers and both are very dead pan but unlike THE EXORCIST the serious tone of this movie doesn’t go against it , THE EXORCIST goes out of its way to shock the audience while THE OMEN keeps its discipline and is all the better for it . Richard Donner brings shock moments where it’s needed like the revelation of the priest after the fire , the scene in the cemetery and the lorry accident at Megiddo and unlike the shock scenes in THE EXORCIST they’re never unintentionally funny . Giving roles to well known Brit character actors like Patrick Troughton , Billie Whitelaw , Leo McKern and David Warner also helps the movie a lot
The only real criticism I have is that it’s not as good as I originally remembered after seeing it for the first time , but that’s a problem with a great number of movies I’ve seen , or that the biblical city of Megiddo is nowhere near the location described in the screenplay ( It is in fact a few short miles west of the border of the West Bank on the route to Jenin ) but that won’t matter to 99.9% of the rest of the audience . If I ever write a book called 50 Best Horror Movies Of All Time THE OMEN will definitely feature in it.
Bernhard claims Gregory Peck had been the choice to portray Ambassador Thorn from the beginning. Peck got involved with the project through his agent, who was friends with producer Harvey Bernhard. After reading the script, Peck reportedly liked the idea that it was more of a psychological thriller rather than a horror film and agreed to star in it.
Despite Bernhard’s claim, William Holden was also considered for the role. Holden turned it down, claiming he didn’t want to star in a film about the Devil. Holden later would portray Thorn’s brother, Richard, in the sequel, Damien: Omen II (1978). A firm offer was made to Charlton Heston on July 19, 1975. He turned the part down on July 27, not wanting to spend an entire winter alone in Europe and also concerned that the film might come off exploitative if not handled carefully.
The story introduces Robert Thorn, an American Ambassador in Italy who adopts the newborn Damien to replace the newborn that he was told was stillborn. When Damien reaches the age of five as Robert is transferred to Britain, strange events unfold, starting with the boy’s nanny committing suicide during his birthday party. Soon after, Robert encounters a Catholic priest named Father Brennan who was present at Damien’s birth and attempts to warn him that the child would eventually kill him and his wife before he dies impaled by a falling church spire.
It is only after his wife ends up hospitalized with a miscarriage that Robert believes, as he and a photographer named Jennings travel to Rome, where they learn the truth that Damien is in fact the Antichrist and that the death of Robert’s child was arranged so the child could be raised by a politician. In the meantime, Katherine is murdered by Mrs. Baylock, Damien’s second nanny, who in reality is a member of the Satanists who arranged Damien’s upbringing and will kill any threat to protect him. Arriving in Megiddo to find Bugenhagen, an exorcist and archaeologist, Robert is presented with the only means to kill Damien: Seven Daggers of Megiddo. Though he initially refuses, it takes both the death of Jennings and discovering the Mark of the Beast on Damien’s head to convince Robert to go through with it. But despite killing Mrs. Baylock after a struggle, Robert is killed by the authorities before he can kill Damien. Damien is then left in the care of his uncle, Richard Thorn.
He’s evil. Pure evil!
Author: lost-in-limbo from the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
24 March 2006
Robert Thorn the American ambassador to Great Britain watches his wife’s pregnancy when a priest tells him that his newborn has died, but he convinces him to substitute the baby (the wife not knowing) with another child that lost its mother in labour at the same time. Watching their young child growing up, he starts show unnerving signs, which the parents slowly start picking up on and also bizarre tragedies start occurring. This leads Robert on a whirlwind investigation that all points to his son being the Anti-Christ.
According to director Richard Donner, he talked the noted cinematographer Gilbert Taylor into coming out of retirement to shoot this film.
Right off the heals of ‘The Exorcist’ successful stint with moviegoers comes another one of those endless 70s religious themed horror flicks involving Satanism. ‘The Omen’, I’d definitely say is one of the better horror films in the shadow of “The Exorcist’, but I’ll even go to say its an vast improvement over it’s influencer. That might be a surprise for some, but I found this film superior as it was more entertaining, fascinating and truly creepy in its context and shocks. Everything about it has a knack for falling into place. From the impending doom that’s achieved by its coldly layered atmosphere to a premise that teases the viewer on how it’s all going to play out. I won’t deny that it seems silly enough when you pay close attention to it all, but with such conviction in the performances and that off confident direction, these factors makes sure that it doesn’t slip overboard into cheesy daftness. Another stroke of brilliance would be Jerry Goldsmith’s memorably, nerve-wrecking score with those explosive chants scattered throughout.
On a grand scale the film was efficiently catered with well established cinematography and polished set-pieces that had penetrating might, which director Richard Donner handled with precise skill. Even when there wasn’t much happening he knew how to keep things compellingly tight with good pacing and impressible imagery. Though, when it came to the essential thrills, he caps off some remotely tense (dogs’ attack) and macabre moments (infamous decapitation) that display bite and flair. The climax is great and the ending is a fitting imprint too. The plot is filled with shocking revelations, interesting characters and it emits a glorious amount of excitement and dread from it mysterious outset.
The performances are that of top quality by a stellar cast. Gregory Peck and Lee Remick are convincingly excellent as Mr and Mrs Thorn. David Warner turns in a marvellous performance as the photographer Keith Jennings. Then Billie Whitelaw is genuinely creepy as Damien’s nanny Mrs. Baylock. Patrick Troughton is superb as the withering Father Brennan. But my applause goes to Harvey Stephens’ who’s the epitome of evil… well; he definitely looked the part and had a memorizing awe as Damien. Although, Peck deserves more credit really, as he brought such devotion to his character that we honestly feel the pain and confusion that hits home.
One of the true benchmarks of horror, along the same lines of ‘The Exorcist’, but for me it beats that film all ends up. Expect a devilishly good time!
The movie was originally going to be called “The Birthmark”, but a good chunk of the movie was filmed on location in Italian maternity wards, (for the beginning of the movie when Kathy gives birth in Rome). The crew would put up signs saying “Filming the Birthmark,” and the women patients there would complain that they didn’t want any mention of birthmarks in their maternity ward, for fear of bringing bad luck. The crew then started to change the signs to “Filming the Omen” just as a temporary measure. But then the new name seemed to stick–and they ran with it.