The F*ckin Black Sheep: Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)

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!

Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
Directed by Graham Baker

“It’s devilishly entertaining watching Damien plot the end of days.”

THE OMEN (the 1976 original) stands as a hell of a piece of filmmaking with a top notch director in Richard Donner, one of the biggest movie stars ever in Gregory Peck, and a killer score by Jerry Goldsmith. The nearly 40-year-old film is still epic and haunting, as if the fate of the world truly was at stake. It made about $60 million at the box office, making it a megahit back in the day. Of course sequels came quickly and…well they never quite matched that mark costing about double and making about $40 million less. But that’s not to say they aren’t an entertaining bunch.

OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT is about as a dark of a plot as they get, with Damien Thorn, now fully embracing his role of the Anti-Christ as he stands fully prepared to take over the world with the help of a legion of devil loving minions. Now grown, he has followed his old man’s footsteps by becoming an Ambassador. Wait, what? For whatever reason, even though DAMIEN: OMEN II had been released in 1978 and focused on a young teen version of the character, producers decided to fast-forward to an adult Damien (Sam Neill in his first major role) despite only three years between films. Now that’s a plot jump.

Neill is obviously good in the role (I don’t think I’ve seen a bad performance out of him), but it is a little odd watching him play, you know, the Anti-Christ. Maybe I’ve seen JURASSIC PARK and IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS too many times, but he doesn’t seem right for the role. Which isn’t fair of course because he was an unknown actor at the time, but come on…it’s freakin’ Dr. Grant and he can’t be a bad man! Regardless, while Damien before somehow balanced his life between normal and evil, Neill gives Damien a level of cockiness and arrogance that he surely would have. He gets anything he wants, and if someone tells him no (or tries to kill him like many, many people do in THE FINAL CONFLICT) he simply twitches his nose like in Bewitched and some poor sap gets themselves dead.

Now the untimely deaths aren’t as elaborate as the previous films, but that shotgun suicide is…wow. It’s shockingly brutal. But the most brutal deaths aren’t actually shown, which is understandable considering that Damien orders the death of all male babies born on a certain day. That’s a rough one to sneak past the censors.

Richard Donner had thought about returning to the director’s chair, but his litigation over his firing from SUPERMAN II prevented that so first time director Graham Baker (ALIEN NATION) stepped in. Baker does a decent job in the big chair, though some elements could have been a lot better. Damien has a few too many “big” speeches, preaching, quoting, and professing his love for being evil. It’s all designed to make us quake, but they just sound over the top. And then there’s the ending, which comes too quickly and…let’s just say it’s odd.

Now all this sounds like I didn’t enjoy THE FINAL CONFLICT (as it was originally named which makes no sense to drop Omen from the title), which isn’t true. This is an OMEN movie, and it’s devilishly entertaining watching Damien plot the end of days. The ending annoyed me most because this could have been a franchise that stuck around much longer. Hell, today this could make a damn good TV show with every season following a slightly older Damien. (Which they are actually making.) I understand sequels weren’t built to last like today, but the fun is feeling like Damien is still out there, plotting some sinister shit. Removing that takes away that fun, but at least we have the first 90 minutes to enjoy until the final conflict.




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