THE OMEN - 2 DISC COLLECTOR'S EDITION
Reviewed by: Rees Savidis
What's it about
American Ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) and his wife, Katherine (Lee Remick) are unwittingly coerced into raising the son-of-Satan by a sketchy priest with one hell of an ulterior motive.
Is it good movie?
“It’s all for you Damien!”
Hells bells/Satan’s calling for you/Hells bells…
“I was not pleased that Hamas has refused to announce its desire to destroy Israel”
- George W. Bush
Long before horror films were subjugated by weak-sauce studio middling to be torn-apart and rebuilt as soft, fuzzy, hip-hop-infused self-referential bullshit-shockers like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, there was a breed of horror film that transcended convention; a breed of horror film that looked to lift the genre out from the glut of B-grade shocker and into the mainstream. This is a breed of horror film my girlfriend affectionately calls “Oscar-horror”; legitimate horror films that put forth the extra effort to be, first and foremost, damned good movies - regardless of genre. The last horror film I can remember that fit this mold was Silence of the Lambs.
One of the first was The Omen.
The Omen was, still is, and always will be, a truly effective and hugely entertaining skin-crawler and a prime example of our beloved genre at work – more specifically, it’s a prime example of our genre working. Why? Well, for starters, the tone of The Omen is deathly serious; there isn’t a moment of levity to be found in its entire 111 minutes, instead, this sucker is played straight and hard and uncompromisingly two-fisted. The idea alone is enough to have most folks up-in-arms; the notion of having to carry out the murder of your own child, born of a jackal or not (and lest we forget for a moment that he’s the freakin’ Antichrist!) is grim, grim, grim…any damned way you slice it. Two very key elements in particular – Richard Donner’s assured direction and Gregory Peck’s incredibly honest and much internalized performance – work hand-in-hand to elevate The Omen to a level not too many horror films have been afforded.
By now it’s pretty much common knowledge that Peck lost his own, real-life son shortly before filming on The Omen commenced, and I feel had he not gone through that very real tragedy, the performance he gave in The Omen might have been…well, something else, something…less? I would never want to trivialize his loss, but I definitely feel that Peck’s portrayal of Robert Thorn is a direct extension of his own self – his healing self. Peck is a man who knows terrible loss and agony and despair all-too-well, and he relates those feelings to the character of Thorn beautifully. It really is an incredible – and incredibly sad – performance; thank you Gregory Peck.
Video / Audio
VIDEO: Fox has provided us with a very clean (albeit a little soft) 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that is as good as we’re likely to get for a film celebrating its thirtieth anniversary.
AUDIO: Satan loves Dolby Digital, so things like thunder-claps, lightning strikes, plate-glass decapitations and priest impalements sound awesome.
Fox has taken a page out of good old Dr. Frankenstein’s lab notes it would seem, as this new 2-Disc Collectors Edition of The Omen is basically an amalgamation of the old “Special Edition” released a few years ago mixed in with some newly added material to create a sort of ultimate special edition. All-in-all, it makes for an incredibly comprehensive package that should prove to be the last word in Omen DVD’s.
Here’s the list:
Audio commentary by Director Richard Donner and Editor Stuart Baird: The fun and always chatty Richard Donner waxes nostalgic with his old pal and Editor Stuart Baird. This is a very lighthearted and informative commentary that goes a long way in proving Donner’s love for The Omen.
Audio commentary by Director Richard Donner and Screenwriter Brian Helgeland: Helgeland shows up on this track to give what is basically a fans commentary on the film and ends up providing one of the most amusing and downright enjoyable tracks I’ve heard in recent memory. Donner sits in with him for the duration which makes for some good conversation as the two men are obvious friends.
Cure of Coincidence: This is a brief little segment that examines the supposedly real curse that surrounds The Omen franchise and has producer Harvey Bernhard proclaiming that “The devil didn’t want the picture to be made”.
Jerry Goldsmith discusses The Omen score: This (pretty self-explanatory) segment has composer Goldsmith dissecting a handful of music cues from his Academy Award© winning score, giving us some insight into both their inspiration and their intended effect in the film.
Introduction by Director Richard Donner: Donner welcomes us to this new, 2-disc collector’s edition DVD of The Omen, giving fans a brief overview of the production.
Screenwriter’s notebook: Scribe David Seltzer explains his reasons for writing The Omen and where he drew his inspiration from; he needed the money. Fair enough, man.
An Appreciation: Wes Craven on The Omen: Craven spends 20 minutes practically blowing the film and all those involved. He’s a smart man, and a very well spoken and educated speaker - I could listen to Craven read-out Ikea instructions and I’d be enraptured.
666: The Omen revealed: This port-over mini-doc from the previous SE of The Omen is informative enough, and better than most EPK’s of its ilk, but it comes off as a little…incomplete, especially when compared to…
The Omen Legacy: This feature length (1hr 41min) documentary is truly the crown-jewel of this set. Covering not only The Omen and its subsequent sequels (Damien: the Omen II and Final Conflict: the Omen III), this sucker also goes into some great detail regarding ‘The Omen curse” as well as the religious connotations, consequences and controversies that surround the entire series.
I’ll give it to you straight and easy; The Omen f**king rocks…Hard. From Richard Donner’s keen and stylish direction (his first feature film folks) to Stuart Baird’s cutting to the performances from Peck, Remick and Warner to the amazing, AMAZING! (And Oscar© winning) score from composer Jerry Goldsmith (Godspeed, sir). All of these elements work at a near pitch-perfect frequency to elevate The Omen out of the mire of exploitative ‘70’s Devil-shockers and into the upper-echelon of classic (and damned classy) “Oscar-horror” films like Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and Silence of the Lambs.