Review- The Omen 3: The Final Conflict (1981)

Review- The Omen 3: The Final Conflict (1981)

WARNING. Spoilers!

Damien Thorn is progressing up the political ladder by hook or by crook. The methods used are exemplified by the first kill in the film in which The U.S.Ambassador to the UK crosses paths with Thorn’s Rottweiler and then goes back to his office and kills himself by blowing his brains out, completely redecorating his office and ensuring that Thorn can now occupy his now vacant position. Oh and yes, that’s Ruby Wax playing his secretary in an uncredited role.


Thorn’s ascent to the top seems like plain sailing except that Jesus has his second coming shortly after this (I love the sequence in which this happens. Damo’s dog suddenly becomes extremely unsettled and Thorn literally wakes up in a cold sweat. And so he should). If that wasn’t enough, a group of priests who know who Thorn really is, have hold of the daggers that can kill him and are trying to bump him off. The road to the top was never smooth, Damien.

This was another film that I saw on TV in the 80s as a child. I remembered that I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought of it as a very entertaining and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy (this was before Part 4 had been made). I’m pleased to report that I haven’t changed my mind on rewatching the film.

One thing that I didn’t pick up on when I first watched the film was that there’s a devilish (pun not intended) sense of humour at play here. One example is when Damien is being made up for his big TV interview. The make-up artist starts to comb his hair causing Thorn to suddenly grab the comb from her hand (he didn’t want her to see his 666 birthmark) and say ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that!’ I also loved that on walking through Speaker’s Corner (with his Rottweiler!), he comes face to face with someone ranting about the second coming of the anti-Christ. He’s closer than you think!


I also loved the frankly amateurish attempts by the priests to exterminate Thorn. They make the gang in The Ladykillers look like seasoned assassins. These scenes ensure magnificent kills like the man in the TV studio who suddenly finds himself suspended upside down, swinging through the air whilst being on fire. I also loved the guy who tries to kill Thorn when he’s surrounded by the dogs used in the fox hunt he’s participating in. Doesn’t he know that Thorn is like a really evil Dr Doolittle and can get animals to kill on his behalf?

And then there’s the storyline that involves Damien getting his assistant Harvey to kill all the children born on the day Jesus recently reappeared. This is one of the darkest episodes I think I’ve ever seen in a horror film and of course, resembles what Herod ordered in the Bible. This is some dark shit and I’m surprised the censors didn’t have more to say regarding this storyline.

The casting is as fantastic as it is in the other Omen films with the adult Damien being played impeccably by Sam Neill. He’s menacing, sinister but also knows how to highlight the sly humour in the script. I couldn’t think of another actor playing the adult Damien anywhere near as well.


I loved the religious euphoria of the ending with bible passages appearing on the screen and a vision of Christ making an appearance as good triumphs over evil. It really is something to behold.

4 stars out of 5


Review- The Omen (1976)

Review- The Omen (1976)

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