Movie Name: The Omen
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date(s): June 6, 1976 (UK)/June 26, 1976 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
American Ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) and his wife Kathy (Lee Remick) prepare to welcome a child into their lives. Something goes wrong during the birth, and Thorn is left with a choice…tell his wife their child is dead or take an orphan child born on the same day. Thorn chooses the child and Kathy and Robert welcome Damien (Harvey Stephens) into their home. As Thorn’s political power begins to rise, he begins to notice strange things about Damien and the accidents that occur around him…is it his imagination or something much worse.
Directed by Richard Donner, The Omen is a horror film in other popular demonic and possession films taking the cinema by storm at the time. The movie was well received by critics and often makes “Best Of” lists for horror and thrills.
The Omen is a good, creepy movie that has that classic 1970s horror feel. It is gritty and partially because of its location, has that gothic foreign horror feel. It is also bolstered by a great cast with Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner as a photographer named Keith Jennings who gets caught in Damien’s web, and Billie Whitelaw as Mrs. Baylock, the nanny from Hell. The actors really eat up the average script and raise it to something much better.
Part of The Omen’s thrill is the insane, over-the-top death scenes. Most of the deaths still look good by today’s standards and really are quite shocking. Be it the nanny’s hanging at a children’s party near the beginning, the priest’s impalement by a church steeple, or Warner’s unfortunate timing with a plate glass truck, the deaths are pretty unforgettable (allegedly, the director Richard Donner timed Warner’s death so people who shut their eyes would still see his spinning head).
The movie also did a great job marketing itself. It was released in 1976 and had preview showings on 6/6/76 to tie into the 666 push of the film. This technique was later used by the misfire remake which came out on 6/6/06.
The Omen is good but it also came out during a slew of “demon kid” movies. Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Other (1972), and The Exorcist (1973) among other movies also went for the whole “demon kid” and with exception of The Other, The Omen always came off as the weakest. It has slow points, and a few moments meant to build suspense just seem to get in the way of the flow.
If you’ve never seen it, check out The Omen…The real Omen, not the remake. It was followed by three movies: Damien: Omen II (1978), Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), and the made-for-TV Omen IV: The Awakening (1991).
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Damien: Omen II (1978)
Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
Omen IV: The Awakening (1991)
The Omen (2006)