Can I tell you how excited I was when Stacie Ponder chose The Omen for Final Girl Film Club? This is one of my favorite movies ever and I’m glad that I finally have a chance to write about it.
The movie opens with Ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck, who came out of retirement to be in this movie) in Rome, finding out that his son has died just after being born. He’s devastated and worried about his wife’s emotional well-being, he accepts the suggestion of Father Spilleto (Martin Benson) that he adopt another child whose mother also died. Thorn takes the child and never tells his wife, Katherine (Lee Remick) his true identity.
We see the years pass and they live happily until Thorn is named the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain. It’s at the child, Damien’s (Harvey Stephens), fifth birthday when his nanny gleefully hangs herself. Afterwards, a mysterious woman shows up as his new nanny, Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw), insisting that “the agency” sent her after hearing about the death of their original nanny. You can tell this movie was made in the seventies because twentieth century parents would be freaking out if mysterious strangers showed up claiming to be the nanny.
There are other signs that Damien may not be normal. Animals are scared of him and him and Katherine are violently attacked by baboons at the zoo. Yet, a mysterious huge rottweiler shows up and bonds with Damien.
Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton) starts following Thorn, insisting that Damien is the Antichrist and that he must go to Megiddo to learn how to fight him. Thorn dismisses him until Father Brennan tells Thorn that his wife is pregnant and Damien won’t allow the child to be born. Part of why I dislike the remake is because the people cast as Robert and Katherine were way too young. In the original, you can see that they’re an older couple and this may be their last chance to have biological children. That’s why Thorn is willing to accept the lie about who his son really is and why he’s so desperate for Katherine to have this child.
Keith Jennings (David Warner, oh my god it’s Beydool/Vultaire from that Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Quest of the Delta Knights!), a photographer, meets with Thorn after Father Brennan is killed in a freak impalement. He photographed the nanny before she died at Damien’s party and she had this weird shadow across her neck. Brennan also had this strange shadow where he’d eventually be impaled.
Katherine confesses her pregnancy to Thorn and tells him she doesn’t want to have the baby and that she’s having irrational thoughts about Damien. Damien eventually pushes Katherine off of a balcony and she miscarries. The rest of the movie is basically Thorn and Jennings trying to find out how to destroy Damien.
My personal favorite scene in the movie is when Jennings and Thorn are in the Etruscan cemetery trying to find the body of the woman who gave birth to Damien. They find a jackal in the woman’s grave and they find Thorn’s baby son in her son’s grave, with his head bashed in. This was all a scam perpetrated by Satanists to ensure the Antichrist would be cared for!
Jeez, I love this movie. It’s so atmospheric and creepy. The actors give really terrific performances, especially little Harvey Stephens. Apparently, he was cast because he attacked the director best in an audition that simulated the scene where Damien freaks out at a church wedding. He has very few lines but manages to seem ominous, especially in the very last scene.
Can we take a minute to talk about the Polish movie poster for The Omen?
Polish movie posters of the Soviet era are notoriously insane and gorgeous.
Past Film Club Offerings
Children of the Corn
Twitch of the Death Nerve/A Bay of Blood