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"Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six." - The Revelation of Jesus Christ/Chapter 13/Verse 18"
The mucho box office success of The Exorcist in 1973 paved the way for a slew of religious themed horror films to hit the screens but there was only one that
TRULY stood out for me (and millions of peeps) and that was the unforgettable
THE OMEN. It was one of those "on top of its shite" films that blows away most genre films out of the red sea to this day.
The initial right hand that The Omen jabbed my way was its airtight and well developed screenplay. It's said that when the film was initially released, it sent moviegoers back to the Bible and the Book of Revelations to double check on the passages quoted in the film. After watching it recently, I didnâ€™t go back to the Bible (I went for a Hustler instead) but I had bought what I heard, signed, sealed and â€śZip-lockedâ€ť. Props to screenwriter David Seltzer for doing his homework and dipping this work of fiction in a veneer of weighty religious credibility. By result it made it much more chilling. Furthermore, the screenplay hit pay-dirt when it came to its well defined characters. There was a well executed, grounded and poignant love story here (between Mr. and Misses Thorn), one that upped the stakes of the proceedings hence involving me to a ludicrous degree when the horror kicked in.
Which brings me to the crushing left hook that followed that potent jab: the amazing performances. Gregory Peck (anchor of the film), Lee Remick (its heart), and Billie Whitelaw (incredibly frightening broad)â€¦you just couldnâ€™t go wrong here! All of the actors in the house took what was on the page and elevated it to a more mesmerizing plane via their talent and the sweet chemistry they shared together. Young Harvey Stephens as kiddy from hell Damien should be tapped on the back as well. Not sure if the role was written that way, if it was a performance created on set or in the editing room but it almost felt like the demon toddler didnâ€™t know that he was evil for some time. As if he was gradually learning about â€śwho he isâ€ť as the film moved forward to finally seal the deal via the final frames. What an absorbing approach! There was almost an ambiguity about Damien that just sucked me in deeper and deeper into the story.
Last but certainly not least, Jerry Goldsmith and Director Richard Donner. If both you lads would be in front me right now, do you know how many hookers Iâ€™d get you for what you accomplished with this film? YES THAT MANY! Goldsmith's â€śGregorian chantsâ€ť score, his army of spooky whispers and odd sounds backed the film up like Murtaugh had Riggs' back! So many scenes were shot through the roof of this creepy mansion by Williamâ€™s score alone. INCREDIBLE! Lastly, Richard Donner aced this one by tackling the human drama credibly, addressing the supernatural/religious themes in a dead serious manner, kicking my ass via the inspired kills and injecting his fear scenarios (now all classic scenes, gotta love them Rottweilers) with oppressive suspense and hard hitting style.
Any complaints about this classic, not really. I did notice on this watch that the Priest, Photographer and Ambassador always wound up at the same functions at the same time. I found that a pinch convenient but thatâ€™s a pocket lint complaint that I will stuff right back in there. Some people have called the film on Satan not nipping his adversaries in the bud more directly...to that I say...its called GOD. Although the Lord wasn't addressed here, he was there helping the leads out as much as he could (in my opinion of course). On the whole, The Omen was a striving, courageous and mucho efficient slice of Studio Horror cake. A hefty staple in the genre! Now when is the son of Satan dropping in on us for real? It sure feels like its time for a clean up. Come on Lucifer! Takes us out already! WEâ€™RE DONE!