Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Omen (1976)

The Omen shows the signal of the Apocalypse, a tough order for a horror film, but this one is about as scary as it gets.

The Omen horror movie poster
At this point just about everybody who will see The Omen has seen it. Either the original from 1976, or the remake from 2006. First I’ll talk about the remake.

Don’t bother with it. The remake is the same story, the same scenes and, in essence, the same movie…just not done as well. We live in a world of horror remakes, and there are two schools of thought regarding them.

The first school of thought is that something new should be brought to the classic tale – give some compelling reason why the story should be retold. Modernize the settings perhaps, make use of technologies in film making and gore that were not available when the original was released or add new twists to the story that make the resulting remake not so much a remake as a new movie with some themes in common with the original. This is a better idea than working straight off of the original script, but I still would prefer original ideas and film makers willing to take risks.

The Omen, Robert Thorn and the Priest The second is that the integrity of the original movie should be maintained and the story should be told in the same way that it was told the first time. I think this point of view is seriously flawed. Why? Does a modern film maker think that he or she can do it better? The movies that are remade are classics, after all. Who would have the gumption to believe that they are so highly skilled that they can improve on a classic. I think that’s stupid.

Therefore, the remake of The Omen, through careful application of the logic of my reasoning, is stupid.

The Omen - Damien among the crosses Anyway, on with the discussion of the original…

The Omen is a tale of the anti-Christ and his development from birth to childhood. Throughout the movie, from his “switched at birth” beginnings to the tragic demise of all potential adversaries, Damien (Harvey Stephens) progresses along the path preordained in Revelations.

The Omen has everything going for it in horror movie terms.

The villain is the pure embodiment of evil on earth. Christian or not, everybody understands the concept of the anti-Christ. For those that believe, the psychological elements of The Omen are intense. This is the end of the world that we’re talking about here, the apocalypse.

The acting in The Omen is spot-on. Every character is believable, and every situation has the elements of real-life necessary to draw the viewer in. Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck), Damien’s father, leads us down the path of a proud father facing mounting evidence that something about his son is “just not right”. Katherine Thorn (Lee Remick) expertly portrays a woman who knows that something evil is in her midst while everybody assumes she is insane. Then there is Harvey Stephens as Damien. Damien is inherently creepy. There is nothing in particular that he says or does, but just the look in that little boy’s eyes communicates evil loud and clear.

The Omen - the nanny hanging around

he music won an Oscar for Best Original Score, and plays a huge role in the effectiveness and tone of The Omen.

The Omen, like so many movies with Biblical overtones, is surrounded by rumors of an evil curse that affects the cast and crew. Both Gregory Peck’s and director Richard Donner’s airplanes were struck by lightening while traveling to location, a flight that Mr. Peck was supposed to be on crashed killing everyone on board, and the FX artist John Richardson was injured in an accident during post-production that beheaded his girlfriend. Were there repercussions for making The Omen? Only God knows.

Memorable scenes incude a nanny hanging herself, decapitation by glass window, Ms Thorn falling over a balchony and the cemetary scene where Thorn is attacked by dogs.

The Omen, Thorn and the Priest in a graveyard

In any case, The Omen is a classic with good reason. It is extremely scary, and many believe that the events that transpire in the movie are actually possible in real life. It doesn’t get more psychological than that.
Oh and the fact that my father is named just wrong

1 comment:

  1. Check out The Wicker Man -