This collection is one that all those who love gothic style thrillers will enjoy. It features the nineteen seventy six blockbuster, "The Omen" and all its progeny.
THE OMEN - ***** STARS
This is the jewel in this collection. It is a first class, gothic thriller with an outstanding cast, a riveting story line, and a musical score that will make the viewer want to sleep with the lights on! A first rate film, it had audiences riveted to the screen when it was first released and has withstood the test of time, as it is as gripping today, as when it was first released.
David Seltzer wrote a terrific screenplay in which an older, affluent, and socially prominent couple, Kathy and Robert Thorn (Lee Remick and Gregory Peck), have a baby, whom they name Damien. The baby turns out to be the Anti-Christ, who ends up causing a lot of trouble. This first class production, which is deftly directed by Richard Donner, is played with straightforward sincerity by its outstanding cast. The casting of Gregory Peck and Lee Remick was pure genius, as their distinguished reputations infused the movie with a believability not thought possible, given the theme of the script. Playing it straight, as a couple caught in a vortex of events over which they have little control, they sweep the viewer along with them. Supported by a fine cast, there are notable performances given by Billie Whitelaw, as the nanny with a mission, David Warner, as the photographer who begins to notice that something odd seems to be going on, and Harvey Stephens, as Damien, whose angelic countenance belies his satanic nature.
This is a riveting, subtle film that, with a few well planned, shocking moments, and an effectively creepy musical score that builds suspense to a crescendo, manages to thoroughly engage the viewer. If one is looking for a blood and gore fest, there is really none of that here. Instead, look to be scared out of the seat of your pants by a superb script, wonderful acting, deft direction, and a musical score that will long linger in one's memory. It is little wonder that Jerry Goldsmith, the composer of the original score for The Omen, won an Academy Award for his efforts.
DAMIEN: OMEN II - **** STARS
This sequel, released two years after the blockbuster success of "The Omen", is itself a stylish thriller. Featuring an excellent cast, it attempts to continue the momentum of the original. While having some shortcomings, the film, nonetheless, manages to entertain and shock. This is due in large part to its excellent cast and another chilling musical score by Jerry Goldsmith that is used to great effect.
This film continues the story begun in "The Omen". The Antichrist, Damien (Jonathan Scott Taylor), is here on earth and is now twelve, a little older and a little wiser to his true nature. Damien is being raised by his uncle, Richard Thorn (William Holden) and his second wife, Ann (Lee Grant).
William Holden and Lee Grant are terrific. With straightforward, sincere portrayals, they are the linchpins of this movie. Jonathan Scott Taylor is good as Damien but not particularly charismatic. Well nuanced performances are given by Richard Foxworth and Lance Hendriksen, Damien's earthly sentinels. Old timer Lew Ayres is wonderful as the ethical business man, and Sylvia Sidney is terrific as the aunt who knows that there is something wrong with Damien. Lucas Donat is excellent as Damien's cousin Mark.
There is a surprising twist at the end of this film, that is sure to catch the viewer unawares. Still, that is not enough to make this sequel comparable to the original. It lacks the subtlety and deft direction of "The Omen". While the director, Don Taylor, does a competent job of directing this sequel, some of the scenes are heavy handed, giving in to special effects that detract from the film, rather than enhance it. The opening scene is a prime example of gratuitous excess. Less is sometimes more, something that the director, Don Taylor, should remember.
OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT - *** STARS
This 1981 film is the second sequel to the oustanding, 1976 gothic thriller "The Omen". The Antichrist, Damien Thorn (Sam Neill), is now all grown up and, having inherited the entire Thorn family mega fortune, is now in the process of fulfilling both his destiny and a biblical prophecy of calamitous proportions. Unfortunately for him, however, his very existence is in jeopardy, as the second coming of Christ appears imminent.
Damien is kept busy in this film. As Ambassador to England, as well as spiritual leader to a denizen of devil worshippers, he is the target of an assassination plot by a group of priests led by Father DeCarlo (Rossano Brazzi). Damien keeps busy thwarting his would be assassins, usually by consigning them to a brutal demise. He also carries on a romance that ends badly. Damien is very much aware of who he is and where his destiny lies.
This is a relatively well acted film that suffers from a somewhat weak script. Sam Neill is well cast as the grownup Damien, giving a powerful performance. Rossano Brazzi is excellent as Father DeCarlo, the priest determined to end the stranglehold that the Antichrist has on the world. Composer Jerry Goldsmith contributes to the gothic atmosphere of the film with his chillingly creepy, musical score, just as he did in "The Omen" and in the first sequel. Due to its weak script, however, the film pales in comparison to its predecessors.
OMEN IV: THE AWAKENING - ** STARS
This 1991 made for television movie was certainly trying to capitalize on the popularity of the 1976 blockbuster film "The Omen" and the two sequels it spawned. It is not really a sequel. It tries to update the original story. This time the Anti-Christ a girl named Delia.
Unfortunately, the reality is that this film ends up being nothing like the original film upon which it is based. The plot becomes convoluted and ridiculous. In updating the story line, the writer brought in some new age gobbledegook that goes nowhere. The story, which starts out promisingly enough, degenerates into total absurdity and becomes unbelievable and downright laughable. Unlike the original, which was believable because of the subtlety that was employed through its straightforward presentation and deft direction, this film is anything but. Ham handedly directed and with a poor script with which to work, the actors cast never even had a chance. Consider this film just to be a bonus feature of this collection. I did not include it in the overall rating I awarded this set.
Only "The Omen" DVD in the only DVD in the set that can be said to be a loaded DVD with a lot of interesting features. It provides a forty six minute documetary on the making of the film, which is quite interesting, as well as a director's commentary. There is a also an intriguing, six minute short on some of the pitfalls that beset the cast and crew during the filming of the movie. The composer also has a small segment of his own. The DVD for "Damien: Omen II" features a comentary by producer Harvey Bernhard, while the DVD for "Omen III: The Final Conflict" has a commentary by the director Graham Baker. All four DVDs provide clarity of picure and sound, theatrical trailers, and subtitles in English and Spanish.