After The Exorcist sparked a lengthy trend of supernatural thrillers, this 1976 horror film scored a hit with critics and audiences for mixing gothic horror and mystery into its plot about a young boy suspected of being th... more »e personification of the anti-Christ. (No doubt it's a favorite of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson.) Directed by Richard Donner (best known for his Superman and Lethal Weapon films), The Omen gained a lot of credibility from the casting of Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as a distinguished American couple living in England, whose young son Damien bears "the mark of the beast." Mysterious deaths and unexplained incidents draw the attention of a photographer (David Warner), whose investigation leads to the young boy--and also to the photographer's shocking decapitation (in a scene that has since been inducted into the horror hall of fame). At a time when graphic gore had yet to dominate the horror genre, this film used its violence discreetly and to great effect, and the mood of dread and potential death is masterfully maintained. It's all a bit hokey, with a lot of biblical portent and sensational fury, but few would deny it's highly entertaining. Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar-winning score works wonders to enhance the movie's creepy atmosphere. --Jeff Shannon« less
"This is a first class, gothic chiller with an outstanding cast, a riveting story line, and a musical score that will make the viewer want to sleep with the lights on! A first rate film, it had audiences riveted to the screen when it was first released in the mid nineteen seventies. I know. I was one of that audience. This film has withstood the test of time, as it is as gripping today, as when it was first released.
Katherine (Lee Remick) and Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) are a wealthy, older American couple. Katherine is pregnant and, while in Italy, gives birth to an ostensibly stillborn boy, a fact that is kept from her. Knowing how much his wife wanted the baby and the difficulty that she had in conceiving, Robert agrees to have the dead baby supplanted by a living newborn whose mother died in child birth, keeping this information from Katherine. They name this baby Damien.
All goes well for the prosperous Thorn family, until Damien turns five. A series of dramatic, unusual events begin to occur around the Thorns, all seemingly stemming from Damien. Well guarded by a self sufficient, somewhat creepy nanny (Billie Whitelaw), there are those who would believe him to be the Antichrist. By the time that Katherine and Robert begin to realize who Damien may truly be, their lives are out of control. With the aid of an inquisitive photographer, a repentant priest, and an archaeologist who holds the key to the destruction of the Antichrist, Robert Thorn becomes a man with a mission. Will Damien let him complete that mission? Watch this movie and find out. You will not be disappointed. I guarantee that you will be sleeping with the lights on and the covers over your head.
David Seltzer wrote a terrific screenplay. This first class production, which is deftly directed by Richard Donner, is played with straightforward sincerity by its outstanding cast. The casting of Gregory Peck and Lee Remick was pure genius, as their distinguished reputations infused the movie with a believability not thought possible, given the theme of the script. Playing it straight, as a couple caught in a vortex of events over which they have little control, they sweep the viewer along with them. Supported by a fine cast, there are notable performances given by Billie Whitelaw, as the nanny with a mission, David Warner, as the photographer who begins to notice that something odd seems to be going on, and Harvey Stephens, as Damien, whose angelic countenance belies his satanic nature.
This is a riveting, subtle film that, with a few well planned, shocking moments, and an effectively creepy musical score that builds suspense to a crescendo, manages to thoroughly engage the viewer. If one is looking for a blood and gore fest, there is really none of that here. Instead, look to be scared out of the seat of your pants by a superb script, wonderful acting, deft direction, and a musical score that will long linger in one's memory. It is little wonder that Jerry Goldsmith, the composer of the original score for The Omen, won an Academy Award for his efforts.
The DVD is a loaded DVD with a lot of interesting features. It provides a forty six minute documetary on the making of the film, which is quite interesting., as well as a director's commentary. There is a also an intriguing, six minute short on some of the pitfalls that beset the cast and crew during the filming of the movie. The composer also has a small segment of his own. There are the other standard features, such as theatrical trailers, interactive menus, and scene selections, as well as crystal clear visuals and audio. This is a first rate DVD of a film well worth having in one's collection. Bravo!"
Review of the new special edition
Stephanie Crawford | Las Vegas, NV | 06/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have a weird obsession with the first 2 Omen films, and own the DVD boxed set, so I've seen the DVD quite a few times. This special edition includes everything from the first release: Richard Donner's commentary, a deleted scene, the featurette on all the weird coincidences & tragedies that happened around the filming, and the just over 40 minute documentary on the making of the film.
The new features added- not including the spiffy new slip case cover and spooky white cover- are as follows. We get a short introduction from director Donner, a 20 minute featurette that is basically Wes Craven talking about why he likes the film so much. Kind of random stuff, but the thing that made me upgrade is the new, just under 2 hour documentary. It's narrated by Jack Palance- that's worth the money right there- and goes into detail of how it started as an idea as "The Anti-Christ", then "The Birthmark" and finally the completed "The Omen."
This re-release was obviously done to promote the new remake, but they actually make it worth your while. The packaging really is nice, and for fans of the Omen or those interested in the odd happenings that surround it- this is a worthy addition to your collection. For those of you who haven't seen this film before- don't base your judgement on the remake. This is a classy but fast-paced intelligent thriller/horror film, with amazing acting (especially from Gregory Peck) wonderful music and cinematography. The 6/6/06 date has passed, but until the world really does end you should enjoy this cool release and enjoy a time before obvious and tacky CGI jumps were considered "horror"."
A Thrilling Masterpiece In Gothic Horror
Busy Body | London, England | 10/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When The Exorcist was released in 1973 the world stood in awe at the horror and gore than was presented before their very eyes. Rip-offs came thick and fast and then came the masterpiece The Omen. This 1976 horror film scored a hit with both critics and cinema-goers alike who had embraced a deep interest in gothic horror and its history. It has a first-rate cast, superb acting, brilliant shock tactics and a soundtrack to send shivers down your spine whatever your state of mind! It's no wonder Jerry Goldsmith won an Academy Award as the composer of the theme! I first saw this film last night when it was shown on UK TV. My mum recommended it to me, as it was a favourite of hers as a teenager and I absolutely loved it.
In The Omen, Katherine (Lee Remick) and Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) are a rich married couple who move to England from America. Katherine is pregnant and gives birth to an ostensibly baby boy while in Italy. This news is kept from her. Her husband knows how much his wife has wanted a baby and the problems she had conceiving, so he agrees to have the dead new-born supplanted by another new-born, whose mother died at child birth. Katherine thinks that the child is her own, but Robert knows it's not and keeps this a secret from her. They name the baby Damien (Harvey Stephens).
Five years pass and we see the family growing up joyfully in their big mansion. They're happy and content with their lives and love their son more than anything. Everything is going well for the Thorn family until Damien turns five. A series of very creepy and unexplainable events happen around the time of his fifth birthday, which all seem to stem from Damien. The family employ a creepy and weird nanny (Billie Whitelaw) and things begin to spiral out of control. Robert and Katherine really start to think that there is something seriously wrong with their child so, with the help of a funny photographer (David Warner), Robert sets out to try and discover the truth about the mysterious events. A stubborn priest tries to warn him when these events happen, but Robert doesn't listen. It soon becomes too late when the man is murdered rather spectacularly.
The horror of this film is based more on the shock tactics more so than the suspense factor, which doesn't make it a very scary film in terms of blood and guts, but more so in the way that it disturbs you deep down and shocks your body. The first big shock of the film comes on Damien's fifth birthday party when his nanny jumps from the top of the mansion roof screaming, "It's all for you Damien!" before hanging herself. Another shock comes when Damien goes hysterical as he nears a church in a car with is mother and father. He later drives his tricycle into his mother's stool as she is doing housework on a balcony. She falls and loses her second baby. Her long stint in hospital tears Robert apart, and her death after she is pushed out of a hospital window tips him over the edge. The death of the priest by a Church-spear is not only shocking, but rather humorous. The scenes in Italy with dogs and spikes and broken arms are spectacular, but the most famous scene comes when the photographer is decapitated by a sheet of glass that slides off the back of a truck which rolls down the hill towards him. A scene that has gone down in history!
OVERALL GRADE: 10/10
The Omen can be a tad boring in between the shocking scenes and good parts of the storyline, but the ending is ten minutes of pure cinema brilliance. The scenes of Robert trying to cope with the world crumbling around him are also pure cinema gold, and shows a wonderfully emotional side to Peck's acting. Caught in a tornado of events of which he cannot control, he sweeps the audience along with him. David Seltzer wrote an awesome script, while Richard Donner works finely and precisely on directing this masterpiece. Essential viewing for all those who love gothic horror and truly great thrillers."
A LANDMARK FOR HORROR FILMS!
lex_of_the_cherubum | 01/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are few viewing experiences like "The Omen". This movie is one of the most astounding motion pictures of all time. It has all the usual good things associated with a great movie (talented cast, good music, good story line) but has also become a classic in the horror genre! The baby-faced incarnation of the anti-christ has become one of the most paradoxically-appealing characters of all time! (Harvey Stevens, the little boy that plays "Damien Thorne" does a superb job acting!)If you consider yourself to be a horror fan, please, see this movie! While it is definately NOT a blood bath, it is a pyschological terror that will leave you thinking about what you've just seen... months after you've seen it! With confidence, I recommend "THE OMEN"...you won't regret it!"
666--The Mark Of The Beast; THE OMEN--The Mark Of A Classic
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 09/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the most commercially and artistically successful horror films of modern times, the 1976 thriller THE OMEN cagily rode the wave of Satanic thrillers spawned by ROSEMARY'S BABY and THE EXORCIST. Indeed these three films form a devilish cinematic trinity of terror. Although often compared to THE EXORCIST, which it followed by two and a half years, THE OMEN differs from that 1973 shocker by being propelled more by narrative invention than by elaborately disgusting special effects. It is a very disturbing film even to this day, more than a quarter century since its June 1976 release.Gregory Peck and Lee Remick lend an air of respectability as the U.S. ambassador to England and his wife who adopt a baby boy named Damien, following what would appear at first to be a miscarriage. Five years later, however, things take a rapid and bizarre turn. Damien's nanny (Holly Palance) hangs herself during the child's birthday party; and not long after, she is replaced by a Satanic nanny (Billie Whitelaw) and a vicious mastif dog. A seemingly manic priest (Patrick Troughton) gives Peck scriptural warnings about Damien, which Peck disbelieves; not long after, Troughton is impaled by a church spire during a storm.Only when a journalist (David Warner) shows him pictures in which these horrible events seem to have a connection does Peck begin to realize that the child he has may not even be real. His suspicions are heightened when Remick suffers a suspicious fall at home and is laid up in bed. And later on, when Whitelaw engineers her death, he comes to realize that Damien is in fact the Antichrist (Devil's Child) as foretold in the Book of Revelations. An exorcist (Leo McKern) tells him he must kill Damien in a church, but his conscience won't let him; and only after Warner is killed in the film's infamous decapitation scene does Peck attempt to go through with it. The result is a suspenseful and disquieting conclusion.Brilliantly directed by then first-timer Richard Donner (who later made SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE and LETHAL WEAPON) and ingeniously scripted by David Seltzer, THE OMEN was, like ROSEMARY'S BABY and THE EXORCIST before it, a very controversial movie amongst the religious Right in America for its alleged advocation of worshippers of Satan. Such is hardly the case for either three movies, of course; and the controversy only helped boost their box office might. THE OMEN, for instance, made for just over $2 million, has since grossed close to sixty million dollars.The reasons for this are clear. Peck and Remick, fine actors both, are highly credible as the parents of a child they don't know anything about. Harvey Stephens is chilling as Damien, as is Whitelaw as his sinister nanny. Warner is also good as the journalist. As mentioned before, THE OMEN is more a matter of plot than of shocking effects. The decapitation scene, however, is still quite horrific and gruesome after all these years; and Troughton's impalement is just as jarring. All of this is elevated further by Jerry Goldsmith's sinister and Oscar-winning choral/orchestral score, which sounds like a combination of many different elements; Gregorian chants, Berlioz, Stravinsky, Bernard Herrmann, and even Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana."Although followed by three increasingly ludicrous sequels, THE OMEN is still a highly-charged horror masterpiece at a time when horror films were still made with terrifying an audience, as opposed to mortifying them. If classic horror is your bag, THE OMEN is as good a place as any to start."