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The Omen (1976)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Richard Donner

Starring:
Gregory Peck/Robert Thorn
Lee Remick/Katherine Thorn
David Warner/Keith Jennings
Harvey Stephens/Damien
10 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A man’s man US ambassador (Peck) in England sees his world go to hell (literally) when he finds out that the child he adopted to cover up his wife’s loss of their newborn happens to be the child of Beelzebub. No “Teletubbies” sit downs for this brat, murder on the other hand…HE LOVES THAT SHITE! HOW CUTE!
THE LOWDOWN

"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 didn’t go back to the Bible (I went for a Hustler instead) but I had bought what I heard, signed, sealed and “Zip-locked”. 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)…you just couldn’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 didn’t know that he was evil for some time. As if he was gradually learning about “who he is” 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 I’d get you for what you accomplished with this film? YES THAT MANY! Goldsmith's “Gregorian chants” 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 William’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 that’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! WE’RE DONE!

GORE
You know what? I won’t give any of the kills away here as they precluded Final Destination in their “surprise you’re dead” demeanor. I will say that the film, although not too bloody, does sport some inventive and brutal moments.
ACTING
I love Gregory Peck (Robert Thorn) and he was at his best here. Strong, compassionate, focused, that’s the Peck I know and he gave me a lead to care and root for. Lee Remick (Katherine Thorn) was likeable, convincing and vulnerable, exactly what the part needed. Classy David Warner (Keith Jennings) was appealing as the Photographer with the most.

You can’t top Harvey Stephens (Damien) as the son of old scratch. His baby face, his evil eyes, that menacing smile…he beyond worked! I can’t imagine anybody else in the role! Billie Whitelaw (Mrs. Baylock) gave us a villainess to remember! That dame gave me the freaking heebie-jeebies! Was she even acting? If so…GREAT JOB! Patrick Troughton (Father Brennan) was efficient as the off his rocker priest.
T & A
Those Rottweilers had sweet asses!
DIRECTING
Richards Donner was on top of his game with this one. He knew when to play it grounded enough visually to make us “believe” in the situation. To then double downing on style when the flick would kick into horror gear. Loved his use of still shots, blurred focus, shadowing (great DP on this) and close-ups! Thsi was one good looking horror film, so rich in dread filled atmosphere.
SOUNDTRACK
Jerry Goldsmith's ingenious “creepy chants”, whispers, sounds filled score jacked up the chill and scare factors of the film to "MUCHO SPOOKY".
BOTTOM LINE
It’s hard to beat THE OMEN if you ask me (or my left sock) as it excelled in pretty much all that makes a horror film a GREAT ONE. Launched by an above the norm and detailed oriented screenplay that knew its shite, the flick went on to choke me with its well layered characters, top notch acting, imaginative kills, bold situations, somber and hard hitting visuals and its intoxicating score. If only Studios today still put out genre films of this caliber. If only...
BULL'S EYE
Omen screenwriter David Seltzer also wrote the Rachel Leigh Cook genre flick The Eighteenth Angel and also wrote and directed the sappy classic Lucas.

The film was shot for $2.8 million

Odd occurrences that went down during production:
-Special effects man John Richardson (who devised the beheading scene in the film) was injured in a car crash During Post Prod while his girlfriend was beheaded in an accident on a film set 
-Gregory Peck and screenwriter David Seltzer took separate planes to the shooting location. Both planes were struck by lightning.
-Lightning almost struck inches away from Producer Harvey Bernard' while in Rome for the film.
-The hotel Richard Donner was staying at during the shoot got bombed by the IRA and he was hit by a car on his way to his Hotel.
-After Peck canceled a flight to Israel, the plane he would have taken crashed...killing everybody on it

 

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11:07AM on 01/22/2009
Ok story, but crappy acting and little action/tension made a boring story and I didn't like this one at all, this is the next worst film to Blair Witch Project.
Ok story, but crappy acting and little action/tension made a boring story and I didn't like this one at all, this is the next worst film to Blair Witch Project.
Your Reply:



1:48PM on 06/16/2006

SCARY THEN, SCARY NOW!

I've been watching horror movies since I was seven(and getting my ass spanked whenever I got caught!)and only one movie has ever scared me to the point that I'm still afraid to watch it again, and that's THE OMEN. It's all about the SCORE. That music f@#ked me up for years!. PERFECT 10/10!
P.S. (REMAKES SUCK ASS)
I've been watching horror movies since I was seven(and getting my ass spanked whenever I got caught!)and only one movie has ever scared me to the point that I'm still afraid to watch it again, and that's THE OMEN. It's all about the SCORE. That music f@#ked me up for years!. PERFECT 10/10!
P.S. (REMAKES SUCK ASS)
Your Reply:



11:33PM on 06/11/2006
Clearly, I don't know why they made the remake, it's almost LINE FOR LINE with the original! It'd be amzing to sunch them up and see just how much "inspiration" they had from the original.

Arrow, what's with "The Lord"?
Clearly, I don't know why they made the remake, it's almost LINE FOR LINE with the original! It'd be amzing to sunch them up and see just how much "inspiration" they had from the original.

Arrow, what's with "The Lord"?
Your Reply:



3:52AM on 06/10/2006

Top notch

Well-crafted horror without the MTV shit, with real actors and incredible atmosphere. Nice 'odd occurances' section too.
Well-crafted horror without the MTV shit, with real actors and incredible atmosphere. Nice 'odd occurances' section too.
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