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The F*ckin Black Sheep: Damien: Omen II (1978)

09.17.2015by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Damien: Omen II (1978)
Directed by Don Taylor (and Mike Hodges)

“DAMIEN: OMEN II isn’t a shit your pants kinda movie, but it has plenty of entertainment lurking within it.”

THE OMEN, the 1976 horror film starring legendary Gregory Peck, remains a classic. A dark, moody and pretty damn powerful movie that I’ve seen several times over the years, and it’s never lost favor. For whatever reason though, I’ve never seen any of the sequels. Maybe it’s because sequels, specifically in horror, usually suck very large balls. But this week I wanted to know if the same was true for this franchise, so I decided to check out one of the more obviously named titles in DAMIEN: OMEN II.

In case you missed this one, Part II picks up a few years later as we ditch the little kid and follow the most terrifying being to ever emerge from human civilization: the pre-teen! Peck’s ambassador Robert Thorn has been replaced by legendary actor William Holden who plays Richard Thorn, Robert’s brother. Along with his wife (Lee Grant), they raised Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) as their own. Well, as much as a rich industrial family would. Instead of tending to his (and his cousin Mark’s) needs, they ship the boys off to military school where fun and hijinks can take place like bullying and literal death stares. Things get more complicated with a Thorn Museum, artifacts from Israel, and Lance Henriksen, which all help to indicate what we all know: that Damien might be a very bad kid (like antichrist bad).

I have to admit that I enjoyed DAMIEN: OMEN II way more than I expected. I’m always nervous with any movie starring an unknown kid as they tend to ruin things (anyone watching THE STRAIN knows what I’m talking about). But that’s not the case here. Jonathan Scott-Taylor is surprisingly good, finding a balance between normal kid (though with a slightly distracting accent) and the devil. When he gets pissed, that evil really messes up some folks. Actually, while THE OMEN has some really f*cked up moments (that hanging nanny sticks with you), somehow, the gore in DAMIEN: OMEN II caught me off guard. The movie builds slowly and the violence that does occur is mostly suggested, like when that old lady drops dead or Damien gives folks some actual evil eyes.

However, things finally get gruesome when a poor doctor decides to take an elevator ride. He survives after it plummets to the bottom only to have broken cables slice everything, including him, in half, spilling his guts in the process. Actually, I take that back. There is a scene before that where a woman is attacked by a crow and then gets run over by a semi-truck. It’s…hilarious. Not because the woman is hit, but because they used one of the more obvious dummies that I’ve seen on film. It’s a scene meant for a Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker spoof, not a studio horror production with money to spend. (Watch the clip here.)

An interesting bit of (worthless) trivia is that director Don Taylor (THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU) ended up taking over for director Mike Hodges, who was fired three weeks into production because he worked too slow (Hodges claims a producer pulled a gun on him). Several of Hodges scenes remain (like the factory, academy, and archeology)…which is much like what happened to THE OMEN director Richard Donner on SUPERMAN II. Like I said, worthless, but interesting.

Is this film on the same level as THE OMEN? No. The original feels ominous and epic. The sequel, well…not as much. DAMIEN: OMEN II isn’t a shit your pants kinda movie, but it has plenty of entertainment lurking within it.

GET DAMIEN: OMEN II DVD HERE

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