Twentieth Century Fox/1976/Directed by Richard Donner
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray
In the realm of supernatural horror, few films are as chillingly effective as Richard Donner’s 1976 classic tale of the coming of the antichrist, The Omen. Whereas The Exorcist (the other Satanic shocker from the 1970’s) had humanity fighting the Devil for the soul of a little girl, The Omen has Old Scratch arriving in the form of a seemingly-innocent child destined to bring the world into darkness. It was so successful in scaring the bejeezus out of audiences that it spawned three sequels and was given a stylish and updated remake in 2006.
American diplomat Robert Thorne and his wife Katherine are excited, expecting parents. As the child is stillborn in Rome (on the 6th day of the 6th month at the 6th hour, no less), Robert makes a fateful and terrible decision, and exchanges his dead child for a live one born at the same time, who’s mother passed away during childbirth. Everything seems fine for a time, but as the child grows he starts to exhibit some scary signs. It’s not long before Thorne is made aware that his “son” Damien is more than a mere child. Damien is the antichrist and is destined to bring about the Apocalypse unless he can be stopped. Thorne is determined to stop the child, without much help (people tend to think you’re just a little crazy when you claim that a cute little kid is Satan himself), and what follows is one of the most shocking and haunting films ever made!
Veteran actors Gregory Peck and Lee Remick play the Thornes, with Harvey Stephens turning in a chilling performance as Damien. Patrick Troughton and David Warner help to round out the cast of awesome players who breathe much life into this tale of good-versus-evil. Richard Donner’s directing is top-notch (leading him to direct such other classics as Superman, The Goonies, and Lethal Weapon) and never skips a beat. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is still as haunting today as it was in 1976, and is often imitated for other films of a similar subject matter.
The Omen is another film that horror fans are undoubtedly familiar with, but it’s worth revisiting every once in a while, and there’s no better time for that than Halloween. From the Eternal Sea He Rises…