Tuesday, September 3, 2019

THE OMEN (1976)

American diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) must not have any faith in his wife's power of deduction, because when their child dies at birth, Thorn makes a quick deal with a hospital priest and switches out the dead baby for an orphan baby that just happened to be born at the same time!  Oh, brother!  The whole idea is completely ludicrous and unnecessary (simply have the evil priest switch the babies without anybody knowing about it), but I don't care, because it's all highly entertaining.

Ends up, this kid, Damien, is actually the Antichrist.  (In the Christian religion, Jesus Christ is suppose to be the good guy and this dude named Satan is the bad guy.  The Antichrist is like Satan's kid or 3rd cousin or something.)  But since he's still a little kid, Damien doesn't get all evil or anything.  Instead, he has protectors (evil nanny, another evil nanny, evil dog, etc.) and an unseen force that kills people who threaten Damien's secret identity.  It's awesome.  Eventually, the parents start to question if "their" kid is actually a normal child or maybe...the offspring of Satan.

Before re-watching THE OMEN for this review, I hadn't watched any of The Omen movies since I was a kid in the 1980's.  Revisiting it now, I was struck by how much this film reminded me of later horror ideas.  Most notably...the unseen force maneuvering items around to kill a particular person.  That was later popularized in the FINAL DESTINATION series.  The visual of Damien peddling his tricycle down the hallway "reminded" me of the Billy puppet from the SAW series.  (Yeah, I know there was a tricycle in 1980's THE SHINING also, but that one had a lower seat.)  Also, when you look closely at the baby skeleton in the graveyard, it looks very similar to the baby skeleton from Cannibal Corpse's classic "Butchered At Birth" artwork.

Overall, THE OMEN isn't as straight up badass as THE EXORCIST or ROSEMARY'S BABY, but it's still a damn good movie.  Good pace, excellent acting (all of the leads were great, especially Gregory Peck), suicide, zero nudity, neck stabbing, dog biting, solid direction, iconic visuals, great kills...including a decapitation scene that blew my mind when I was a kid! 

Over the years, THE OMEN story has become ingrained in popular culture.  It even had a big part in the awesome "Satanic Panic" movement of the 1970's through 1990's.  Highly recommended.  If you need me, I'll be in my room watching the "Damien" episode of South Park.

NSFW movie poster

Part 2 - Damien: Omen II (1978)
Part 3 - Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
Part 4 - Omen IV: The Awakening (1991)
Remake 1 - The Omen (2006)
Prequel - The First Omen (2024)