The Omen (1976)

Another of those older horror movies that scared the crap outta me as a child. One of my favourite horror movies of all time and horror stories as outlined in the original trilogy of movies, here is 1976’s The Omen. A join US & UK production the movie was directed by Richard Donner stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw & Harvey Spencer Stephens as Damien. The trilogy focuses on the birth, live, rise to power of the Anti-Christ and his death.

In Rome American Robert Thorn (Peck) is informed that his wife Kathy has given birth to baby boy who died soon after. A grieving Robert, not knowing how to tell this to his wife who isn’t aware of yet,  is convinced by father Spiletto into adopting an orphan whose mother died at the same moment. The priest says that the baby needs a family as it has no other relatives and this way Kathy need not know. Robert agrees and quietly adopts the boy, naming him Damien and returns with his family to the US soon after. A few years later Robert is appointed by the President, his old college buddy, to be the Ambassador to Great Britain and moves his wife & child to a large mansion there. Soon many disturbing events start to take place. First on Damien’s 5th birthday party, his nanny is hypnotized by a strange Rottweiler and she calls out to the boy before hanging herself to death in public. a new nanny, Mrs. Baylock, suddenly arrives to replace her, claiming the agency sent her after reading about the death in the newspapers. Also when arriving at a church to attend a wedding, Damien freaks out and attacks Kathy, causing Robert to take them away without getting out but since he seems calm afterward,  they dismiss it. At Robert’s office a priest from the Vatican, Father Brennan, warns the Ambassador of his son’s mysterious origins and hints that the boy may not be human. An annoyed Robert has him taken away.

The priest repeatedly warns Robert, by the River Thames, about the curse, which Robert ignores. The priest tells Robert that his wife is pregnant, and this puts her in danger from Damien. Suddenly, a lightning and wind storm occur, and he tries to enter a church for protection, which is however locked. He subsequently dies when a lightning rod, from the top of a church, falls on him and impales him through the side of his neck. Meanwhile Katherine finds out that she is pregnant and Robert is delighted but she tells him that she wants an abortion and it is obvious that she is getting irritated by Damien. Mrs. Blaylock, who is a demon possessing a human, keeps the Rottweiler with her and Damien, saying that the boy likes the dog and it will protect him even though both Robert & Kathy want it gone. Photographer Keith Jennings who has snapped a few pics of father Brennan and some pics at Damien’s birthday party sees that there is an unexplainable lines that seem to go through both the priest & the nanny and, after meeting with Robert, deduces that it predicted their deaths. He also shows the same line in a photo of him, implying that he is to die soon. While this happens, Damien riding his tricycle knows Kathy from the top floor and she falls and injures herself and loses the baby. While she recuperates, Robert & Keith travels to Rome and find the hospital’s maternity ward & it’s records had burned down, leaving no trace of Damien’s true family.

They do however visit Father Spiletto at a rural monastery and discover he has been burned on his right half and struck mute. Going by his directions to a ruined cemetery where they find a jackal’s skeleton in Damien’s mother’s grave, and discover that Robert’s and Katherine’s child was murdered to place Damien in their care. These shocking discoveries force Robert and Keith to believe Father Brennan’s warning that Damien is the Antichrist. A group of wild rottweilers attack both Robert and Keith, who, despite their injuries, manage to escape the cemetery. They then travel to Israel to meet Carl Bugenhagen, an archaeologist who gives Robert the the seven daggers of Megiddo – the only way to kill the Anti-christ is to stab him with one of them. Bugenhagen reveals to Robert that Damien will possess a birthmark in the shape of three sixes if he is the Antichrist. Initially Robert refuses to kill his child and throws the daggers away but is convinced when Keith is  is decapitated when a sheet of glass slides off a truck rolling back. Katherine, who was called earlier by Robert to get ready to go to Rome, is pushed by Mrs. Blaylock through the hospital windows and dies as she hits the ground.

A distraught Robert comes back to England and traps the dog in the basement and checks on Damien, finding ‘666’ on his scalp. A struggle ensues as the nanny appears and tries to kill Robert, but Robert is able to kill Mrs. Baylock. He then carries Damien with him into a church, while the boy screams “NO” and is about to stab him when police intervene and shoot Robert dead. At a joint funeral for his parents, Damien is left in the care of the US president and as the movie ends the camera then pans down on Damien, who turns to the audience and smiles innocently. Creepy kid!

Incidentaly the script’s original ending was that Robert Thorn succeeded in killing Damien, but Donner & the studio head wanted to continue the story and hence changed it. A good movie although a bit dragging at times and not scary enough for an adult now. 7.5 outta 10!

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