Friday, October 25, 2013

The Omen (1976)


Running Time: 111 minutes
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: David Seltzer
Main Cast: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw, Harvey Stephens
Click here to view the trailer

FRIGHTFEST 2013: NIGHT ONE

Pull up a chair, you're in for a scare! Okay, that was awful, but I'm not deleting it because it's Frightfest 2013, anything goes and I think this is going to be a lot of fun. I've got to tell you it's odd not reviewing a BOOK movie, throwing the traditional out the window and celebrating Halloween with everyone else. Anyway, "The Omen" gets the honor of being the first NON "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" movie to be reviewed on this blog and we'll call it a so-so start.


This is the demon child movie to end all demon child movies and any movie that has followed about a creepy kid has "The Omen" to thank for paving the way. In Rome, American diplomat Robert Thorn (Peck) grieves over the loss of his child, who has just died during birth. With his wife still out of the know about their dead baby, Robert is convinced by a priest to take another child that has been abandoned and pass it off to his wife, Katherine (Remick), as their own. He goes ahead with the plan and the child is named Damien, with the three forming a happy little family. Not long after, Robert is appointed U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain and so the family pack up shop and move to the U.K. At Damien's fifth birthday party, his nanny stands atop the Thorn mansion, in front of all the party goers, jumping off the roof and hanging herself in front of a bay window, claiming that her actions are for Damien. Not only does this event plague the Thorns, but weird things continue happening: During a visit to a wildlife park, a pack of baboons attack the car that Damien and Katherine are riding in and when the Thorns try and take Damien to a wedding, he freaks out at the very sight of the church. It's around this time that a priest, Father Brennan, comes to see Robert and tells him that his child is a bad seed. Later, Father Brennan meets back up with Robert and tells him what will happen: Katherine will become pregnant again, Damien will kill the baby, kill Katherine and then kill Robert. Robert refuses to believe it, but has a hard time accepting the priests ravings as a lie, considering the odd nature of Damien and all the odd things that seem to follow his son around.

SPOILER ALERT!


I've got to tell you, I just have a hard time buying devilish dogs and demon children when you've got Gregory Peck in there. Peck is an actor's actor and it seems to me that he should only be featured in serious roles and certainly not horror films. Not that he didn't do a fine job, it's just, to me, the equivalent of seeing Daniel Day Lewis pop up in the next Wayans production. Okay, so maybe that analogy is way off, but you get my drift. So I had never seen "The Omen" before and I've got to say it wasn't too shabby. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a horror classic or anything, but it's from the 70s, a time when nearly every movie that got made was, at least, good.

I've gotta' tell ya, naming that kid Damien was their first mistake - that's just asking for trouble. You'd never see a five year old lured to the dark side who was named Ernie or Scooter.

Man, what about the ways that people died in this movie. I hate to be that lame, easily impressed guy, but there were some pretty bad ass killings in "The Omen"! Nanny hanging herself off the roof, priest impaled with rod, photographer decapitated, Lee Remick thrown off a roof and through an ambulance!! WOW!


In case it isn't painfully obvious by now, I just don't have a lot to say as it pertains to the 1976 version of "The Omen". It's a fine horror movie, made at a time when gold was being shot out of Hollywood left and right. The cast is kind of *meh*, as I have a hard time swallowing Peck in something so farfetched & contrived and I just don't care for Remick here either. Also, I like a lot less biblical stuff with my horror movies, thank you. It's okay for there to be a little, but they were thumping the Book of Revelations and being very "priestly". It's not offensive or anything, it's just a personal preference. It didn't blow me away or anything and it certainly didn't scare me, however, it DID provide just the right amount of creepy to make for a cozy afternoon for me and my wife, on our day off. 


RATING: 6.5/10  So "FrightFest 2013" is off and running, with a less than stellar start. That's okay though, because the best SHOULD be saved for last anyway. 

October 25, 2013  8:00pm

4 comments:

  1. Nice review! I liked seeing Peck in something like this, it felt different next to the rest of his filmography. (Though I think this is the first film that I, personally saw him in.) This is one of my favorite horror movies.

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    1. Thanks Brittani! I saw Peck for the first time in "To Kill a Mockingbird", his definitive performance in my opinion and it was odd to see him in this. I will say though, as you did, it was a nice change of pace.

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  2. Good morning Andrew,
    And hello to Britanni, good to see you again.. especially agreeing this is one of the better Horror films.
    To me, this one is a slightly flawed example of what I like about SOME horror films. The inventive deaths only slightly detract. Oh, sure, they are a shock, even (I hate to admit this) entertaining in their inventiveness - especially when you try to predict them from the clues.. the Omens in fact.

    But the true chill, the real horror in this is much more frightening than any number of dismembered drunk sexually active teens getting sliced. That end scene, where we realise (lets forget the sequels for now) that this cute looking, but totally evil young person is on the fast track to heading the worlds most powerful country.. That in 30, 40 years time, he will have access to the nuclear button. And he will get there... he has the privileged back ground, he has the looks and the money, he will get the backers.. and he has the power to stop anyone who stands in his way.
    Oh yes, that final shot.. much. much more scary than any dismembered body.

    And to go out on probably an even bigger shock... I thought the remake was.. not at all bad.
    Ray

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    1. I've actually heard good things about the remake, but have yet to see it. Maybe next year's FRIGHTFEST will see me reviewing it, who knows?

      Yeah, this was a great start and a solid '6.5' which is just a notch below "really good" in my book.

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SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #65: Les nuits de la pleine lune/Full Moon in Paris (1984)

Running Time: 100 minutes Directed By: Eric Rohmer Written By: Eric Rohmer Main Cast: Pascale Ogier, Tcheky Karyo, Fabrice Luchini,...