retroflix (retroflix) wrote,

The Omen

The Omen (1976 20th Century Fox, Dir. Richard Donner)

The opening of the movie is so boring, even Gregory Peck fell asleep doing it. You'll notice the priest is shushing us so we don't wake him.
Also, I forgot to resize this one! d'oh!

I suppose an alternate title for this film could be "Why to be Childfree" or something like that. Consider, did the Childfree movement exist before this movie? I never saw it before this film, only after… COINCIDENCE? I think not! Actually, you're going to see the word coincidence a lot during this review, unless I use different words to describe it. See, I've always had a slightly different view towards this movie than the normal one, and I love Richard Donner for telling the story the way he did because it means I can have this point of view.

Insert some childish joke about thier hair being blow back by a fart here.

I've had this idea in my head for sometime that I guess you could say is sort of an atheist's view of the movie. I've always sort of believed that there isn't anything wrong with Damien. He's an ordinary little boy who has some strange coincidences that happen around him and could make a person who is pre-disposed to think in that manner that he's the devil. Damien himself only does one act in the entire movie that causes any harm to anyone, and that could be written off as an accident caused by carelessness.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. We should perhaps begin at the beginning.

OMG! He made that man's head explode with light, he must be teh debil!

This movie begins with what is possibly the scariest moment for a parent to be to consider. A man rushes to a hospital to find that his wife has given birth to a still born child. In a move inspired by desperation and fear, the man decides to adopt a child. In the first of what could be called a startling set of coincidences, another child has just been born and orphaned. The mother of that child gave birth and passed at about the same time that this man's child died. The man, agrees with a priest that they'll keep the adoption secret. One assumes that this being Rome, things are done a little differently there. Actually, as we discover a few minutes later, things are done differently for him.


You see, Robert Thorn (played to near perfection by Gregory Peck), is some variety of millionaire and part of the Ambassadorial corp. I'm not sure what he did in Rome, I forget if it's even mentioned, but that's not terribly important. Right after he agrees to take the child Thorn is appointed ambassador to England. Actually it's not right after because the boy grows up a bit. I sort of get the feeling that they live in Rome for a while before he's transferred, but in the movie its one minute and then the next. Then there is some nice idyllic family stuff to show you that everything is wonderful with this little family.

She's just realized that her coffee isn't as good as Foldger's Crystals.

And then the fifth birthday happens. Damien's nanny, announcing "It's all for you!" hangs herself in front of the assembled dignitaries. As you might understand, this puts a damper on the party and causes some trouble for the Thorn Family, mostly because now they need a new nanny and they have negative publicity. Not only that, but it causes all the crazies to come out of the woodwork. One of them is a priest who starts babbling that Thorn needs to "Accept the Lord Jesus" and "Drink his Blood" which does nothing to help him being accepted as a confidant of Thorn's.

"I sure am a smug bastard." OR! "They lied, pimpin' is easy."

Before getting thrown out by one of the Marine guards, he tells Thorn that he was at the hospital the night Damien was born. This finally causes Thorn to start listening, but sadly the priest start babbling like an escaped mental patient again and in come the marines. Well one marine, a corporal if you really want to know. That detail is wholly unnecessary, but it's the kind of attention to detail you can get when watching a movie with me.

No joke here, I just thought this was a nice shot.

While the father is being lead away David Warner's character, a photographer whose name I can't be bothered to look up (was I just saying something about attention to detail?), snaps a photo of him. That photo will become a major plot point, because it proves that all of this is the work of the devil! You know, either that or bad photography stock. It seems that there is a line on each of the pictures, and there was a line on the photos of the girl who hanged herself. See he also gets that line when he takes a shot of the priest in a different situation. But, I am getting ahead of myself again. This is a movie of suspense rather than flat out horror, so almost everything I say is going to be coming before it should. I keep wanting to get ahead of myself and tell the big parts of the tale before we get there. Also, this entire review is one big spoiler, so you probably shouldn't read it.

You know he's still going to turn right to the page 3 girl, don't you?

A new nanny shows up to replace the old one, and she's creepy as all get out. Mrs. Baylock shows up and takes over the house hold in 26.3 seconds. I often have problems with scenes like these, because the parents fold like card players with a hand full of nothing and thinking the other person has a strait flush. They just let things slide far too easily for my liking. Of course in the very next scene, Damien totally goes bananas at the idea of entering a church. He beats and claws at his mother and screams and wails and carries on until they leave the church behind. This is when you get the first inklings that Thorn is starting to wonder if something isn't wrong with this situation. It doesn't help that Mrs. Baylock brings an unwanted dog into the house, or that she acts just a bit too creepy and assertive for a proper English nanny. I suppose it could be that she's a handmaiden to Satan, but I've been around these sort of service people who think they know what's best and won't listen to the people who could have them killed. She could just be arrogant and snotty, and not necessarily a servant of the devil.

You know, this scene is just disturbing because the only joke I can come up with is along the lines of "She longed for him to grow a little older so she could educate him in other ways as well." and that's just creepy!

Then of course, we get the oh-so-famous monkey bit. Damien and his mother go to a safari park. After scaring off some giraffes, they drive off too see the monkeys. The monkeys decide that the car that Damien and his mother are in is the place to be. So they hop up on the car and start screaming and yelling and beating on the windows and things. They bang on the car, scream at the windows, admire the balance of the tires and even get into the nifty style of that modern automobile. This sort of thing leads Kathy Thorn to start to think that ever leaving the house with Damien again is a bad idea. She decides to cloister herself in for the rest of her life and start drinking heavily. Sadly, what we're starting to see is the breakdown of the Thorns' marriage. Nothing supernatural, just depression and anxiety gone unchecked.

You know, the funny thing is, you can now buy that door and wall set up at Ikea.

Things that have been hinted at get said outright when Thorn goes to see the crazy priest again. See the nutty priest came and told Thorn that his wife is in danger and asked for 5 minutes in the park. The problem is, crazy priest boy keeps coming off as being slightly nuttier than a super extra nutty fruit cake with extra nuts. He tells Thorn that Kathy is pregnant, and that he has to go to Megiddo to find out how to whack Damien. Thorn leaves, and the priest gets written out of the script. Again, it's for you to decide if it was the devil or the deep blue sea that got him. Lightning As a side note I've always noticed in these movies that God is portrayed as being incredibly impotent. Satan can reach out and kill at any minor whim, he send demons and servants and monkeys with sticks to do his bidding. God sends a satsuma and a couple of strawberries to help, and the Arch Angel Gabriel eats of one of the strawberries on the way down. I don't buy that crap personally. If god and the devil and Carrot Top really exist, then I think the balance of power is a little less one sided. If God is supposed to be all powerful, then that god should have to be more powerful than the devil. This movie keeps it vague and you can even watch as an atheist, but a lot of the other movies aren't vague.

She feels a sneeze coming on!

While Thorn learns about the priest getting turned into a priest-kabob, he also learns that Kathy is thinking Damien is evil, alien and not even hers. Wonder where she'd get an idea like that. The doctors tell him she should get an abortion, he says no, and Damien takes the choice out of their hands with a well aimed tri-cycle. One good bump and down she goes, and looses the baby to boot. If you insist, I think Mrs. Baylock caused it to happen because she's a know it all who doesn't like being corrected. As I said, I've met people like Baylock before, and they are evil people. You remember Francis from The Pit and The Pendulum? Mrs. Baylock's maiden name was Barnard, I'm telling you! The fact that she shows up later to finish the job proves it. But I'm getting ahead of myself again.

In 10 years time, this will all be torn down to build a mini-mall.

Now after all this has happened, we finally get Thorn starting to go over the edge. He meets up with the photographer that took the pictures of the priest and they start to discuss the coincidences that have been going on around this situation. They look at the coroner's report for the crazy priest and find that he was high on morphine most the time. Now normally, this would be all the explanation I'd need. Oh, he was high as a kite and talking crazy, one and one make two! However, that's not good enough for our boys, OH NO! They go to the priest's apartment finding that every inch of the walls, including the windows, were covered with pages of the bible. The door even has 47 crosses on them as David Warner says "I counted them" and yet with all this evidence they don't decide that priesty boy was crazy with crazy sauce.

No, it's true, pimpin ain't easy.

Instead they start going through the priest's things and piecing together his tale, essentially deciding that maybe he wasn't so crazy. Personally, I would have just left it at "Ah… loony was he? Well… good! We can ignore anything he said then" and just gone to the pub. Not these two though. They go through the thing about the priest having a birthmark of three sixes, and all the signs that are supposed to foretell the coming of the anti-Christ and things like that. Once they go through that, Thorn finds that all his staff has "quit" and that only Mrs. Baylock remains. Being a descendant of the evil Francis Barnard, I think Baylock fired or killed or scared the staff off so she could control the household.

I got nothing. You fill in a joke for this shot.

At this point, Thorn and photographer boy go to Rome to try and track down what happened and how he got this kid who attracts crazy like as sexual adventurous teenager. They run around Italy, seeing the sites, holding hands, falling in love, and going to monistaries to interrogate priests. Now, things start to get a little more dastardly. The priest, after being given a round of good-cop/bad-cop tells them where Damien's mother is buried. They go to a fake looking set which looks sort of like a cemetery. I don't know how much else was done on a set, but this was TOTALLY a set and it looks TOTALLY fake. They find a grave with a dog's skeleton and a baby's skeleton. This leads Thorn to believe that his son was killed by bad people and they replaced him with the devil's child. He tries to call Kathy, but she gets chucked out of the window by Mrs. Baylock.

I have a set of those for VEWPRF one year. They are AWESOME at cutting up oranges.

Now, with Kathy dead, Thorn decides pretty much to go to crazy town. He and photographer go to Megiddo and learn how to whack Damien. An old man gives him seven daggers which have to be ritually stabbed into the kid in a church on the altar. Actually, only Thorn gets told, but that doesn't matter much. Photographer boy gets his head taken off by a sheet of glass. From then on, it's sort of a race to the end. When Thorn gets home, he checks Damien's head for lice and possibly birthmarks in the shape of sixes. He then gives Damien a sudden and impromptu hair cut. Mrs. Baylock, always protective of her ward's looks, tries to avenge Damien's locks from the unskilled hands of his father. A fight ensures which makes anything Jackie Chan has done pale in comparison. People get bloody, Mrs. Baylock goes for the throat, tries to kill Thorn with a roasting fork, but our man gets the job done in the end!

Little known fact, that's actually David Warner. David is really an empty maniquine, that's why he could do that stuff in Time Bandits too.

I really kind of feel for poor Robert Thorn at this point. His wife is dead, his house has been turned upside down, and some pushy know it all employee who is the descendant of the most evil man in cinematic history has tried to kill him with a roasting fork. Is it any wonder he then hops in the car and goes for a drive to the nearest church with his boy? The man needs to hide out for a while! Sadly, he doesn't go to rest, he goes to stab! As he's about to stab the boy into oblivion, the police show up and save the kid from the stabinations of his father who has clearly lost it.

I mean, I've wanted to kill my boss once in a while, but I don't jump them in the kitchen.

The final shot is, I think, everyone's favorite from this film. At the funeral, we see everyone standing together, and Damien seems to be in the care of the president now. He turns to the camera, who he knew was there all along and smiles one of the most wickedly evil smiles in the history of creepy little children. Then of course we get a bible quote, which is like… a law when you have movies about the devil.

Staby staby!

I would say more, but what more is there to say? Isn't this long enough as is? I'm tired so I'll just do the last bit quickly. My dvd is from a few years ago, it's got a commentary and a couple of features, yada yada just go buy it will ya? I always think Richard Donner doesn't get enough love anyway. He made some of the best movies, yet he rarely gets a mention when they tally up great directors. This is the guy who made Superman, The Goonies, Ladyhawke and the Lethal Weapon flicks. How can you not love Richard Donner? Remembering of course that with Lethal Weapon, parts One and Two balance out Three and Four. And even if you didn't like The Toy he directed the Twilight Zone Episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet! Nightmare at 20,000 Feet people!

What a happy little boy!
Tags: 70s, halloween, horror, movies, reviews
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