By Brett Lawrence, Blockbuster.co.uk
Richard Donner’s horror classic, The Omen, was first released in 1976, that same year, my parents were blessed with their firstborn… luckily for my parents I don’t bare the mark of the beast, and luckily for the rest of us The Omen is celebrating its 30th birthday with a DVD re-release.
stars as Robert Thorn, ambassador to the United States, whose wife unknowingly gives birth to a stillborn child. To prevent her from the terrible truth, he substitutes their dead child with an orphaned boy (Damien). On Damien’s fifth birthday his nanny commits suicide, not just in front of him but his parents and a whole host of party-goers. Shortly after, a mysterious priest confronts Thorn with the news that his son is the Antichrist.
Whilst Damien is often cited as being the movie’s central character, the first in The Omen series focuses mainly on the people around Damien, in particular Ambassador Thorn. As the evidence pointing towards his son being Satan’s offspring starts to mount up, he and photographer Keith Jennings (
) seek out the truth behind Damien’s origins.
It has to be said that scenes of an Ambassador being allowed to wander the streets of London without a single bodyguard or envoy in sight are slightly suspect (though less so than they would be in 2006), but we must suspend our disbelief…after all this is a story dealing with the supernatural. In fact, those wishing to dig for plot holes may wish to point out that the titular omen supposedly taken from the book of Revelations doesn’t feature in the bible at all! The fact that you don’t suspect this for one second is a credit to Seltzer’s original story.
Although Damien himself has minimal screen-time, Harvey Stephens’s performance is suitably creepy enough to convince you that this loveable young boy is certainly not all he seems. It seems strange that given this role, Stephens only appeared in two more movies over the last 30 years; one being a cameo in the 2005 remake ‘Omen 666’.
Perhaps even more unsettling than the movie itself though, are the events surrounding the filming of it. Writer David Seltzer’s plane was struck by lightning, Donner’s hotel was bombed by the IRA and Peck almost boarded a flight that crashed killing all on board. Several crew members narrowly survived a head-on car crash on the first day of shooting…. even the dogs used in the movie turned and attacked their trainers. It pleases me to say, however, that accidents to those who merely watch the movie don’t seem to have hit the headlines!
Relying more on suspense and tension, rather than just cheap shocks, The Omen still manages to hold its head high above most modern horror flicks. It comes highly recommended to those who didn’t see it the first time around, and for those of you who did, why not remind yourself why its still a classic 30 years after its cinema release.