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A masked killer, wearing World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35-year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.
Robert and Katherine Thorn seem to have it all. They are happily married and he is the US Ambassador to Great Britain, but they want more than to have children. When Katharine has a stillborn child, Robert is approached by a priest at the hospital who suggests that they take a healthy newborn whose mother has just died in childbirth. Without telling his wife he agrees. After relocating to London, strange events - and the ominous warnings of a priest - lead him to believe that the child he took from that Italian hospital is evil incarnate. Written by
Always avoid people born on the 6th June especially if they are called Damien and bizarre violent accidents seem to happen to those around them!
Since this film has recently been remade, I thought it would be a good time to look back at the original a horror classic!
In 1973, 'The Exorcist' broke all boundaries; previously, horror movies had only concentrated on the dark side, there were hardly any references to main stream religions. The basic rule was if the Devil was in it, God wasn't. Even Rosemary's Baby released five years before has hardly any reference to God or a more heavenly supreme being. The reaction that followed the release of The Exorcist was that the public loved it but the censors didn't and it was banned in the UK for twenty five years. The Exorcist may have fallen foul of the censors but it opened the flood gates for this sort of movie and three years later The Omen was released on 06/06/1976.
What do you think a good horror movie should have? Is it a superb cast, a brilliant score, a battle of good versus evil artfully portrayed on screen, or maybe a sinister and ambiguous open ending? No matter which of these sways your opinion 'The Omen' has all these and much, much more!!!
Firstly, let's look at the cast, Lee Remick and Gregory Peck are the leads, these two names are nothing short of Hollywood elite. Lee Remick is perfect as the mother who as the movie progresses realises there is something very wrong with her child. (I'm not sure what tipped her off was it the baboons attacking her car or her son's feral reaction at the thought of entering a church?) Gregory Peck again is perfectly cast, as no one does noble and principled like Mr Peck. However, it is not only the leads that are terrific, the supporting cast includes David Warner and Tommy Duggan who both put in notable performances but it is Billie Whitelaw that eclipses them all as Damien's overly polite yet sinister nanny.
The score of a horror movie is very important, it has to chill to the bone and help create and maintain a feeling of an ever present danger. Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack is probably one of the best scores ever written for a horror movie. It is perfect for The Omen, gloomy, disturbing, chilling music, interlaced with what sounds like religious choirs portending the end of the world. It really is that good and if you don't believe me, consider the fact that it won Jerry Goldsmith an Oscar the following year.
By this stage, I know that most of you who were considering going to see the new Omen film at the cinema are now thinking to yourselves 'maybe I will rent the old one instead!' but for the few that are still on the fence here are a few other points to convince you. The 1976 version had a great plot, a child adopted into the corridors of power, whose destiny is to destroy the world, this is a simple and perhaps unoriginal premise however David Seltzer quotes Revelations at every turn and comes up with very original ideas to kill people off. Today, we are used to seeing a lot of blood and gore when people get killed in this genre but this is one thing that the omen lacks. Gore is pre-empted by well choreographed violent outbursts, each one being more frightening and compelling than the last, from a priest being impaled by a church spire to a reporter being decapitated by a pane of glass. These events all build to the foreboding finale. In the last scene we see a little boy, holding the hand of the President of the United States, turning around and smiling at his father's funeral. What greater ending could there be!?!
The Omen stands out in this genre and has stood up to the test of time. To-day horror movies are packed with the latest teenage idols and gratuitous violence has replaced good plots and imaginative thinking. (There are exceptions to this of course, Dog Soldiers, The Ring etc.) The Omen combines, a great cast, a great score, and brilliant storytelling without a teenage idol in sight.
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