2. The Omen (1976)

omenUp next was The Omen (1976). I had planned on watching Ghostbusters II, but my little sister wanted to watch a horror movie with me, and had no interest in that one. She wanted to watch “a classic,” so I thought The Omen fit the bill. I include some clips below, sorry about the hardcoded Polish subtitles. Originally I had wanted to save it for an “evil kid” theme day, but there are enough movies with evil children in them that I’ll still be able to have a full lineup even without The Omen.

Watching it this time, I’m actually glad I didn’t save it, because I had never noticed before how relatively low Damien was on the evil kid scale. Yes, he is Satan’s spawn, but throughout the film he doesn’t really do anything particularly evil except accidentally. So he freaks out when his parents try to take him to a church! I think that there are many people who feel that way about church. In fact, most of the things that are supposed to demonstrate his evil nature are awful things that happen around him and that will probably scar him for life:

  1. At his birthday, his beloved nanny hangs himself in his honor. Not only did someone close to him die, but it totally ruined his birthday. One minute Damien is chilling on a sweet carousel in his backyard, the next minute, everyone is screaming and crying, and his birthday party is canceled. You would think that Satan would send his own son a better birthday present than a dead friend and a ruined party, like maybe bags of gold or a pony.
    Hooray for birthdays!

    Hooray for birthdays!

    Anti-hooray for dead nannies.

    Anti-hooray for dead nannies.

  2. Lee Remick takes him to a zoo with a drive-through safari section, and their car is attacked by a gang of violent baboons. They are slightly different from Rafiki in The Lion King in case you were wondering, as Rafiki is a shaman who helps animals fulfill their destinies, and the baboons in The Omen are terrifying, bloodthirsty beasts who want to rip Lee Remick and Damien to shreds. Perhaps that is the reason that mandrills like Rafiki are no longer classified as baboons. You don’t have to watch the whole clip, the relevant part is at the beginning.
  3. After his nanny dies, a clearly evil replacement nanny moves into the room adjacent his. If a scary woman had come into my room and said “Have no fear, I am here to protect thee,” I would have developed a permanent phobia of nannies.
  4. He is having fun riding his tricycle around the house, and then his nanny/personal apostate of Satan opens the door so he accidentally rides right into his mom and she falls over the banister and into the foyer below, which puts her in the hospital. I don’t  need to explain why this is bad.

Basically, it is not very fun to be the Anti-Christ, although it does make for a great movie; the nanny scene and the baboon scene are two of the best horror scenes of all time.

I would much rather hang out with Damien than the little girl from The Bad Seed, who would probably murder me for my shoes or something.

If you’ve never seen this movie (doubtful), here is a short summary:  Gregory Peck is an American diplomat living in Rome, where his wife, Lee Remick, gives birth to a son.  An evil priest kills the child, tells Gregory Peck that he died of natural causes, and somehow convinces him that instead of letting his wife know, he should take a random replacement baby and raise him as his own. Peck becomes Ambassador to Great Britain, and they live in an enormous house there. Sinister things happen involving Damien, an evil nanny comes to live with them, a crazy priest tells Gregory Peck that Damien is the Anti-Christ and he needs to kill him, Gregory Peck and a photographer travel to Israel to meet an archaeologist who gives them some holy Anti-Christ-killing knives, Lee Remick gets pushed out of a window, the evil nanny tries to kill Gregory Peck but he kills her instead, and then the police shoot him right before he can kill Damien. It was all in vain.

In general, the characters of the Ambassador and his wife are intelligent people who make good choices and react to things in appropriate ways, unlike many characters in horror movies (even ones that I love).  However, they make one bizarre and inexplicable mistake. If this woman showed up at your house with vague answers about being sent by a nanny agency, would you let her immediately move in and be with your child alone?

"Hello, I am here to eat your SOUL"

"Hello, I am here to eat your SOUL"

Probably not. You would probably not let her in your house at all. Furthermore, she is a terrible nanny who is constantly overstepping her bounds with them, and they don’t fire her. I guess Gregory Peck learns from his mistake, because she tries to kill him later in the film

Another avoidable problem in The Omen is that Gregory Peck probably would have accepted the fact that Damien was the Anti-Christ a lot sooner if Father Brennan had tried for one moment not to sound like a crazy person. I don’t know how he expected the Ambassador to take him seriously when in his first meeting with him he insists upon being totally cryptic and saying things like “TASTE THE FLESH OF CHRIST” without providing any satisfactory explanation. When he finally gets around to saying what he needs to say, he says it in such a bizarre way that it is a little hard to take him seriously. If you are trying to convince someone that his child is Satan’s spawn and needs to die, it’s generally best to try to present the facts in a logical manner, rather than shout about passages from Revelations and old men named Bugenhagen. This would have been a more practical way to go about the meeting:

vlcsnap-2009-10-02-18h46m16s133

"Oh hey, hi, thank you for meeting with me. I am a priest from Rome. As you know, your son was born five years ago on June 6th, at 6AM. You were told that your son was still-born, but actually there was an evil priest who brutally murdered him and substituted him with Satan's spawn. I know that may seem hard to believe, but if you reflect upon recent events and things that your wife has told you, I think you might agree that something is up with Damien. Also, here is a passage from the Bible that makes sense in context if you let me explain it to you calmly over coffee."

"Wow, that is interesting, now that you mention it, that is completely plausible. Thanks, I will investigate this further and with haste."

"Wow, that is interesting, now that you mention it, that is completely plausible. Thanks, I will investigate this further and with haste."

Apparently the reason for his bizarre behavior is that he was actually dying of cancer and on huge amount of morphine. Personally, I think that if he were really serious about preventing the rise of the Anti-Christ he would have gone easy on the morphine on the day when he had to talk to Gregory Peck. Maybe if that had happened, Gregory Peck would have killed Damien in time to prevent the rise of the Anti-Christ. It wouldn’t have made a very good movie, though.

A couple of years ago the remake of The Omen came out. It wasn’t terrible, but it is not necessarily something you should see, as it is essentially a carbon copy of the original but with Julia Stiles as Lee Remick and Liev Shrieber as Gregory Peck.

Anne rating: 8/10 for the movie itself, 4/10 for the inability of characters to communicate with each other in an effective manner.

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~ by Anne Harding on October 2, 2009.

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