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3 reviews, 83 user ratings

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Omen, The (1976)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The last word in well-structured but dull big-studio '70s horror."
2 stars

A lot of people dumped all over the 2006 redo of "The Omen," as if the original were a masterpiece despoiled by a remake. Truth to tell, the 1976 film which paved the way for three progressively bad sequels hasn't aged terribly well. It plays stodgy and old-school, in marked contrast to maverick William Friedkin's dance with the devil three years prior. About all "The Omen" has going for it, then and now, is its freakish death scenes.

Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, pitching their voices as though it were still 1958, are ambassador Robert Thorn and his wife Katherine. Their baby has died and been surreptitiously replaced with an orphan child, though Katherine doesn't know that. The baby grows into five-year-old Damien, a preternaturally silent child (except when he gets near a church) apparently watched over by an imposing black dog and then by eerie-looking Billie Whitelaw as nanny-from-hell Mrs. Baylock. It's clear to pretty much everyone in the movie except the parental Thorns that Damien ... well, as they say on King of the Hill, that boy ain't right.

The script by David Selzer is fastidiously engineered, perhaps explaining why they basically shot it again word for word in 2006. It actually takes the form of a quest narrative, as Peck and skeevy photographer David Warner set about collecting evidence to prove Damien's infernal origins. Peck seems to take forever to be convinced, even after those near and not-so-near to him have died baroque deaths.

Said deaths earned The Omen a place in horror-flick infamy all those many years pre-Final Destination. Audiences couldn't quite believe that a 20th Century-Fox film starring Gregory Peck was showing them, in exquisite slow motion, a gory decapitation by a wayward sheet of glass. Or a distressed nanny being the ultimate buzzkill at a birthday party. Or a character shishkebabed by a falling church spire. The Omen is a supernatural procedural wedded to sensationalistic National Enquirer splatter (from the days when the Enquirer ran photos of celebrity corpses), and as such, it's fitfully interesting. The gory bits are like jalapeno peppers sprinkled over oatmeal; even the most nostalgically devoted fans of the film need to ask themselves if it would be so dear to their hearts were it not for the ornate atrocities set to Jerry Goldsmith's shrieking choir. Not much can be said about dependable hack Richard Donner's direction here; the proceedings are styleless, impersonal (and paced like death).

If you find yourself with some free time, look up Harlan Ellison's essay about the film (it was reprinted in his collection An Edge in My Voice), wherein he discusses the time he caught an evening showing and was appalled by the audience's hooting, hollering response to the flick's centerpiece demise. Ellison is perceptive in many cases, but not this one. Even allowing for the release of tension that often gives rise to "inappropriate" audience reactions, the death scene in question is borderline ridiculous probably not even borderline and fairly hard to take seriously. By the time of the Final Destination films, the elaborate Rube Goldberg deaths were consciously designed for morbid comedy. This doesn't prove the coarsening of modern American audiences so much as simple truth in advertising. Ellison assumed that The Omen would be a film in which life meant something. He was clearly at the wrong movie.

Essentially undignified material given a respectable old-Hollywood patina by its star and studio, "The Omen" doesn't play with an audience's head the way "The Exorcist" so ruthlessly did. It hauls out the old Satanic verses for easy spooky effect, and rests much of its narrative weight on a rich clueless couple and a very inexpressive child actor. A remake neither honors nor dishonors it: it's hard to polish a turd or to render it even more smelly.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1158&reviewer=416
originally posted: 06/10/06 23:40:06
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User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell effective horror piece love the last scene 4 stars
11/04/12 Marty Disappointed. Cool decapitation scene but movie not scary enough. 3 stars
1/05/10 art A REVERSE THAT,THE OMEN DID IT BETTER THAN rosemary's baby! 3 stars
7/19/09 art ROSEMARY"S BABY did it better. 1 stars
11/16/08 action movie fan good religeous shocker-well made eerie, with excellent effects-great score too 4 stars
2/03/08 Pamela White Think suspense great thriller without the gore 5 stars
10/12/07 Pal Joey anyone who doesn't like this classic is scarily stupid 5 stars
9/08/07 Talon Fantastic film, a psycological suspense thriller with a morbid atmosphere. 5 stars
9/01/07 anouka The Omen deserves its classic status. And that ending, followed by THE SMILE, brilliant 5 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers not scary. but creepy. good movie. 4 stars
4/07/07 Chris Redmond The most chilling musical score in cinema history. Surpasses even Jaws and The Exorcist. 5 stars
2/15/07 Shahreen Akhter it was not scary at all 2 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega Belongs to the 10 scariest movies of all time. An all-time classic, to be remembered. 5 stars
1/06/07 Quicksilver Wonderful movie, with awesome deaths and a haunting operatic score (AAVEE SATANNNII!) 5 stars
12/12/06 mig One of the great classics of 70's horror! 5 stars
6/16/06 Ole Man Bourbon Born of a jackyl!@!!!!!!!1111 Awesome. 5 stars
6/11/06 myself I will watch it again 5 stars
6/09/06 Shahreen Akhter this is the only movie that scared me 5 stars
6/04/06 Sandra Rodenas 3 stars
6/03/06 michael great horror flick, just wonder how good the new one will be 5 stars
6/02/06 bob totally creepy 1 stars
5/03/06 Dave Kicks ass on many levels, The whole movie keeps you on the edge of your seat. AWESOME 5 stars
4/03/06 Reklc Classic!!! 5 stars
3/21/06 Larisa Moreno A true classic, horror film - very creepy! 5 stars
11/25/05 cr a classic horror picture with class,the story of revelations, even scarier 4 stars
10/23/05 Brent Stevenson good but very scary!!! 5 stars
3/27/05 William This movies scared the $^#@ out of me. I needed another horror movie just to bring me down 5 stars
3/03/05 Littlepurch Great acting, some cool deaths and scenes that are acutally scary! Go 70s! 5 stars
2/11/05 H.P. Lovecraft Excellent movie. 5 stars
11/01/04 ODH One of the best horror films I have ever seen. 666!!! 5 stars
10/25/04 Debbie Phenomenal biblical truth portrayed on film by top actors 5 stars
10/24/04 johnny mettlach a classic horror story with a great musical score and strong performances 5 stars
10/03/04 LIAM JACKSON outstanding film. damian is really cool. 5 stars
9/03/04 T.B. A another famous horror film like the exorcist 5 stars
7/28/04 rishab jainani it's a good movie..awesome 5 stars
12/06/03 john sensational! 5 stars
10/13/03 Erik Van Sant True horror in every sense of the word. Donner's next great film was 'The Goonies'. 5 stars
9/30/03 Samuel Justus Great 70's Horror! I'd like to see a remake..SOON! 4 stars
8/06/03 Alice Great 5 stars
7/09/03 Sid Mindblowing 5 stars
7/07/03 King Richard Scared the poop out of me. Much better than the shit that comes out today. 5 stars
4/12/03 Jack Sommersby An effective chiller. 4 stars
4/05/03 LIAM JACKSON outstanding film. damian is really cool. 5 stars
12/05/02 Justine Lewis I Love it But I love Damian omen 5 stars
12/04/02 Kyle A classic. Very chilling! 5 stars
11/16/02 Nevz wierd 5 stars
10/28/02 jimmy johnson good film 5 stars
10/24/02 Charles Tatum Scary as heck 5 stars
9/02/02 Erik North Classic 1970s horror film--unsettling as Hell, literally! 5 stars
8/17/02 Scott GREAT movie! damian will always scare the living shit outta me! 5 stars
8/06/02 I Can't Swim Music never more suited to the film; also loved Gregory vs. Mrs. Blaylock! 5 stars
6/22/02 Graham McDonald Some people have compared it to the Exorcist, but it's faaaaaaaaaar mor compelling and even 5 stars
6/14/02 daniel biasatti beautiful, stylish, classic 5 stars
5/24/02 Jeremy Whitman Flamin heck, this is a Top notch flick you flamin git 5 stars
4/24/02 andrew stephens it is the best movie i had ever seen in my life 5 stars
3/03/02 R.W. Welch Far-out yarn manages to sustain a singularly ominous aura. Skip the sequels. 4 stars
2/12/02 Nevz Truly Evil 5 stars
1/15/02 David A. Exciting, but not really scary. It's entertainment 5 stars
11/26/01 KMG Gregory Peck is da bomb!!!! 4 stars
10/30/01 Brook it starts off kinda borring but gets better 3 stars
10/14/01 Andrew Carden Badly Made, Unscary, Boring, Unexciting, and Stupid Exorcist Rip-Off. 1 stars
9/27/01 Matthew Bartley Better than the Exorcist 5 stars
8/08/01 E-Funk The best Richard Donner film ever. Still creepy after all these years. 5 stars
6/01/01 Erik North Similar to THE EXORCIST--but even more disturbing 5 stars
5/19/01 Stewart Worth renting for Jerry Goldsmith's loud but chilling musical score alone. 4 stars
4/30/01 HOmer Simpson It's a god horror movie 4 stars
3/22/01 viking pseudo Biblical claptrap 1 stars
2/23/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Disturbing and horrible...on par with The Exorcist... 5 stars
12/31/00 sean mackey really good scary movie 5 stars
11/04/00 Dani Richardson Its the greatest horror film ever. Nothing else comes close 5 stars
8/24/00 Joep awesome movie worth seeing! 5 stars
8/18/00 Elvisfan Haven't seen it in awhile but I bet it still holds up pretty well 5 stars
7/25/00 homer simpson it does not get any better than this!! 5 stars
2/25/00 jake mostov a big piece of crap! 1 stars
1/13/00 k.tomkowski one of the best hooror movies, maybe the best, super script 5 stars
10/23/99 The Bomb 69 predictable 3 stars
2/01/99 Matthew Bartley The most terrifying thing is the camera guy developing his eerie photos 5 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink Exciting, tense horror film 4 stars
11/12/98 Lord Of The Dunce Spooky as all fuck. A great seventy's classic. 5 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob A great film, it's pretty much like watching home movies of my childhood! Great ending! 4 stars
10/19/98 {{{OZ}}} 70's horror always had Gregorian chant soundtracks, but this was still an awesome film. 5 stars
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  25-Jun-1976 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jun-2006

  N/A (18)
  DVD: 17-May-2001

  12-Aug-1976 (R)

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