There are so many major films that I remember seeing on TV when they were shown for the first time. These first screenings were such big news in the UK. Jaws, Superman and The Omen all spring to mind.


It was high time that I reinvestigated The Omen. It tells the story of Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) arriving at the hospital in which his wife Katherine has just given birth. However, events haven’t gone to plan and Thorn learns that their firstborn has died shortly after being born. However, he is told that another mother had given birth but had died during the procedure. Would he consider telling his wife that this baby was in fact the child she had given birth to? He agrees especially as she had experienced several miscarriages prior. However, strange events start to happen as the child grows up. It is soon established that the child is, in fact, the second coming of the antichrist as Thorn is approached several times by a very sinister doom-predicting priest.


On watching the film I couldn’t believe just how many scenes are now so well known. These scenes and signifiers from the film have been absorbed into the public consciousness. The name Damien now has connotations of evil when used in other productions (one example is the use of the name in the comedy series Only Fools and Horses) due to its use here first. Iconic scenes include the nanny killing herself at Damien’s fifth birthday party (‘It’s all for you, Damien!) along with Katherine’s deathly stare as she witnesses what has just happened (this image of Lee Remick’s startled expression alone must be one of the most well known of the whole of the horror genre), the 666 birthmark on Damien’s scalp, the use of the Rottweiler as guardian and demonic watch-dog of the young anti-christ, the photographer who can predict who will be next for Damien’s wrath by the strange interference he sees on the photographs he takes of the soon to be bumped-off,  the scene in which Damien is taken to a church for a wedding, the trip to the wildlife park…the list goes on.


The cast is a powerhouse of acting brilliance and lends the film massive credibility. In fact, some actors would only be signed up to act in the film if it was treated as a classy psychological thriller rather than as a tacky exploitation film (take a bow, Gregory Peck. Although, as most of you will know, I do love a gorgeous slice of exploitation). In fact, before Peck was cast other actors who were considered for the role were Oliver Reed, Roy Scheider, Dick Van Dyke and Charles Bronson. I would love to see The Omen with Bronson as part of the cast.

But, whilst The Omen is a ‘classy’ production, it still packs a punch when it comes to the kills. The nanny hanging, the priest being impaled by a falling lightning rod and the photographer’s beheading by a pale of glass are all gory and nasty enough to satiate the most ravenous horror fan.


But whilst the cast is uniformly brilliant, on this occasion I was watching intently Harvey Stephens as the infant devil child. He’s brilliant! As he’s just a child he has very little dialogue and so has to emote through facial expressions alone. Watch how his face changes on the drive up to the church, how he acts like half Beelzebub, half troublesome toddler when his mother is trying to rest, his scenes in the safari park. He is perfectly cast as sweet little child, half devilish little brat. The end scene of him smiling at the camera made my blood run cold. And he had every reason to smile. He had ‘sequel’ written all over him.


Add to this heady brew Jerry Goldsmith’s fantastic score (his use of the demonic choral singing was perfect), Richard Donner’s gorgeous direction (every shot is perfectly and stylishly framed) and the classy locales of both London and Italy and you have a horror classic.

All I can say is that I’m glad I’m gay and will never have kids. I’d love to have a Rottweiler though. Guess what I’ll call him?!

5 stars out of 5


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