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This movie plays with the intellect. It is frightening for what is not
seen. From the grey overcast that blurs the skies of London and the dead
stillness of the great Pereford mansion that houses the ill-fated Thorn
family to the deepest recesses of civilization in the hollow underground
an ancient excavation site, the film effectively captures the viewer's
interest and draws them into a world that is on the verge of the ultimate
disaster - the birth of the anti-Christ.
Born into the world of politics and wealth, little Damien Thorn is the darling of the beautiful and privileged Robert and Katherine Thorn. Mysterious accidents and the overall feeling of death begin to shadow their lives until the horrifying truth of Damien's birth is uncovered millions of miles away in a grave in a decaying pagan cemetery in Italy. Gregory Peck gives a fine performance as ambitious politico Robert Thorn, a man who slowly discovers that his fate is interlinked in ancient biblical prophecy. With escalating horror, he uncovers a grand design that's unfolding under the unsuspecting eyes of the entire world - and he and his perfect family are at the centre of it. His search for the truth is one of the best in films, taking him to the farthest reaches of the globe and climaxing in an exciting and bizarre confrontation between himself and the face of evil.
Lee Remick is ethereal as his beautiful and tragic wife. The rest of the cast - Billie Whitelaw as the creepy Mrs. Baylock, David Warner as the doomed Jennings and Leo McKern as the mysterious archaeologist Bugenhagen - give the movie its singular dark and moody quality. THE OMEN has a few disturbing moments that shock rather than disgust, but the film is loaded with memorable scenes that are ingenious. It's the 'feeling' that the film incites that makes this movie unique. The haunted performances of the actors, the creepy-crawly musical score, the insinuation that doom is slowly creeping into the world with the birth of one lone child, all succeed in making THE OMEN one of the truest horror films.
Sometimes it's the knowing that something is going to happen that is more frightening than actually seeing it happen ...
This movie scared the heck out of me when I saw it in the theaters in
1976, and it's still creepy today. It was almost 30 years later when I
finally saw it for the second time and I thoroughly enjoyed it again,
although it wasn't terrifying to me anymore. The DVD version is
excellent because it presents the movie in the 2.35 widescreen mode,
which is essential to the viewing of this film if you are a fan of
cinematography. A VHS formatted-to-TV picture would lose too much of
the great camera-work done in this film. I was amazed how beautifully
filmed this movie is, so if you love this film and don't have the DVD,
please consider getting it.
The story was a bit slower than I remembered it back in '76 but still provides enough action and plenty of chills. This time around, I found the nanny (Billie Whitelaw as "Mrs. Baylock") to be more scary than the devil/kid! I didn't even remember her from 30 years ago but she got my attention on the DVD. It was a very effective job of acting by that woman.
In the meantime, I always enjoy looking at Lee Remick's gorgeous face with her magnetic eyes and Gregory Peck is usually rock-solid in roles he plays. This is no exception.
Although I question some of the supposed quotes from the Book Of Revelation from the Bible (there is no "s" in Revelation, the screenwriters showing their biblical ignorance.), the movie is still a good witness to people who don't believe in Satan. They might after viewing this movie.
This is one of the classics of the '70s and often underrated. The sequels to this were simply not memorable and not worth your time. I don't know about the re- make that just came out, but it would be tough to top this film. I think I'll stick with this one and I won't wait another 30 years to see it again. Maybe tonight!!
Robert Thorn the American ambassador to Great Britain watches his
wife's pregnancy when a priest tells him that his newborn has died, but
he convinces him to substitute the baby (the wife not knowing) with
another child that lost its mother in labour at the same time. Watching
their young child growing up, he starts show unnerving signs, which the
parents slowly start picking up on and also bizarre tragedies start
occurring. This leads Robert on a whirlwind investigation that all
points to his son being the Anti-Christ.
Right off the heals of 'The Exorcist' successful stint with moviegoers comes another one of those endless 70s religious themed horror flicks involving Satanism. 'The Omen', I'd definitely say is one of the better horror films in the shadow of "The Exorcist', but I'll even go to say its an vast improvement over it's influencer. That might be a surprise for some, but I found this film superior as it was more entertaining, fascinating and truly creepy in its context and shocks. Everything about it has a knack for falling into place. From the impending doom that's achieved by its coldly layered atmosphere to a premise that teases the viewer on how it's all going to play out. I won't deny that it seems silly enough when you pay close attention to it all, but with such conviction in the performances and that off confident direction, these factors makes sure that it doesn't slip overboard into cheesy daftness. Another stroke of brilliance would be Jerry Goldsmith's memorably, nerve-wrecking score with those explosive chants scattered throughout.
On a grand scale the film was efficiently catered with well established cinematography and polished set-pieces that had penetrating might, which director Richard Donner handled with precise skill. Even when there wasn't much happening he knew how to keep things compellingly tight with good pacing and impressible imagery. Though, when it came to the essential thrills, he caps off some remotely tense (dogs' attack) and macabre moments (infamous decapitation) that display bite and flair. The climax is great and the ending is a fitting imprint too. The plot is filled with shocking revelations, interesting characters and it emits a glorious amount of excitement and dread from it mysterious outset.
The performances are that of top quality by a stellar cast. Gregory Peck and Lee Remick are convincingly excellent as Mr and Mrs Thorn. David Warner turns in a marvellous performance as the photographer Keith Jennings. Then Billie Whitelaw is genuinely creepy as Damien's nanny Mrs. Baylock. Patrick Troughton is superb as the withering Father Brennan. But my applause goes to Harvey Stephens' who's the epitome of evil well; he definitely looked the part and had a memorizing awe as Damien. Although, Peck deserves more credit really, as he brought such devotion to his character that we honestly feel the pain and confusion that hits home.
One of the true benchmarks of horror, along the same lines of 'The Exorcist', but for me it beats that film all ends up. Expect a devilishly good time!
'The Omen' scared the bejesus out of me as a kid. Watching it again all
these years later much of its impact has worn off, and yes, it has dated
quite badly, but it's still a wonderfully entertaining movie, probably
second only to Polanski's 'Rosemary's Baby' in the Satanic/apocalyptic
genre. It definitely wipes the floor with recent pretenders like 'Lost
Souls' and 'End Of Days'.
One of the reasons it still works is that the actors take the (sometimes silly) material so seriously. And when you have actors of the calibre of Gregory Peck and David Warner it certainly helps. Peck is utterly convincing as the Ambassador who doesn't want to believe the shocking facts staring him in the face, and Warner, who often found himself in second rate b-grade rubbish, obviously relished his role as the inquisitive reporter who helps convince Peck that things are not as normal as they seem. Along with Peckinpah's 'Cross Of Iron', one of his best roles. Lee Remick is strong as Damien's worried mother, Billie Whitelaw chilling as the mysterious governess, and Patrick Troughton ('Dr Who' #2) is very good as a dying priest who knows the truth about the Thorn's son.
Forget the sequels, 'The Omen' is classic Satanic schlock, and still has more than a few scares left in it. Essential viewing for fans of 70s horror.
Rightfully tense and spooky thriller from director Richard Donner that grabs its audience and does not let go until the shocking finale. American Ambassador Gregory Peck has come up with an idea after his new-born son dies at birth: he decides to pass another child off to wife Lee Remick as their own. Life in England seems grand for a few years, but as the child becomes a toddler (in the form of the young Harvey Stephens) strange murders start to occur. The child is really the son of Satan, born of a goat, and his only goal is to grow up and take over the world for his unearthly father. As the truth slowly unfolds, the film twists into disturbing murders and highly unholy situations. Not a film for the faint of heart and certainly not a perfect film, but still one of the stronger films of the usually luke-warm genre. 4 stars out of 5.
Always avoid people born on the 6th June especially if they are
called Damien and bizarre violent accidents seem to happen to those
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.
The first and best in the series of films about devil-child Damien teamed a
great cast (Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Patrick Troughton,
Billie Whitelaw) with Harvey Stephens in a chilling performance as the
The deaths most of the cast meet are inventive and in some cases, memorable for many years after viewing the film - giving the opportunity for some unusual and striking visuals, while the whole film is soaked in that loud Goldsmith score to great effect.
The sequels, alas, were poor in comparison, but 'The Omen' stands alone of its type of seventies horror schlock.
"The Omen" was included in a recent book I read of THE 1000 MOVIES YOU
MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIE! - ironic since fellow IMDb user Theo Robertson
claims it was included as an entry in a similar book titled THE 50
WORST FILMS OF ALL TIME.
I've always really liked "The Omen" and, like Theo, think it is superior to "The Exorcist." It's more chilling and freaky and subtle. There isn't any fake pea soup here, either. Which isn't to say that "The Exorcist" isn't any good - but it hasn't fared as well over the years.
"The Omen" is just really good. It was released the same year as Exorcist if I'm not mistaken and Gregory Peck gives a fine performance. The part where a character's head is lopped off and rolls across a street in slow-motion, and then director Richard Donner cuts to a whole new sequence, is really chilling and bizarre.
It's that sort of eerie unexplained stuff that makes this, in my opinion, superior to a lot of the other stuff out there - i.e. many other trashy supernatural flicks that don't hold anything against this.
Following the heels of the success of The Exorcist, The Omen tells the story of the son of Satan being born from a mysterious pregnancy and given to a U.S. ambassador and his wife in Italy. The couple raise the young child, but things begin to happen to the couple as the boy matures. A governess hangs herself. The child acts wildly when brought near a Church. A spooky governess appears from nowhere to take care of the child. A black evil dog takes up residence at the child's bedroom. To complicate matters, a priest gets in touch with the father and tells him to beware his son and that he is the spawn of evil. The Omen works very well due to several factors. The script is generally well-written. The story is very implausable in some places, but it works on the whole. The use of powerhouse stars like Gregory Peck and Lee Remick in the leads help to give the film the royal treatment, making sure no one mistakes the budget, level of ability, and time put into this production. Peck is very good in his role as a man convinced(finally) of horrifying news. The rest of the cast does equally well with some fine performances by Billie Whitelaw as the crazed, manical governess, Patrick Troughton as the conscience-torn priest, David Warner as a helpful photographer, and Harvey Stephens as the young, sweet-yet evil looking Damien. Most of the film's success can be attributed to director Richard Donner. Donner keeps the pacing of the film tight, uses some first-rate pan shots, and creates a mood and suspense that build climatically throughout the film. Some of the scenes that are most memorable include Damien on a tricycle, Peck and Warner in a cemetery, and most famous of all is the priest's demise. A wonderfully shot sequence. The music in the film is a great asset to the overall mood. A very good film....not nearly as gory or shocking as The Exorcist but still as powerful in its own right for its seemingly somewhat realistic adaptation of scripture.
This movie appears in the book 50 Worst Movies Of All Time alongside
such fare as ROBOT MONSTER . This is completely undeserved because i
rate THE OMEN as one of the best horror movies from the 1970s , if not
all time . The book in question makes a big deal of how young Damien's
parents experience some ghastly going ons without realising something
is seriously wrong , but this is churlish since the audience ( like in
most horror movies ) are one step in front of the protagonists , we
instantly know what's going on even if the characters on screen don't
and this is what makes the narrative so suspenseful , we're waiting for
Ambassador Robert Thorn to put two and two together . It should also be
pointed out that these types of tradgedies do happen in life and
there's a rational explanation with no supernatural causes involved
Comparisons with both THE OMEN and THE EXORCIST will be made but this is by much the better film I think . Both films deal with satanic powers and both are very dead pan but unlike THE EXORCIST the serious tone of this movie doesn't go against it , THE EXORCIST goes out of its way to shock the audience while THE OMEN keeps its discipline and is all the better for it . Richard Donner brings shock moments where it's needed like the revelation of the priest after the fire , the scene in the cemetery and the lorry accident at Megiddo and unlike the shock scenes in THE EXORCIST they're never unintentionally funny . Giving roles to well known Brit character actors like Patrick Troughton , Billie Whitelaw , Leo McKern and David Warner also helps the movie a lot
The only real criticism I have is that it's not as good as I originally remembered after seeing it for the first time , but that's a problem with a great number of movies I've seen , or that the biblical city of Megiddo is nowhere near the location described in the screenplay ( It is in fact a few short miles west of the border of the West Bank on the route to Jenin ) but that won't matter to 99.9% of the rest of the audience . If I ever write a book called 50 Best Horror Movies Of All Time THE OMEN will definitely feature in it
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