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on 26 June 2014
THE MOVIE

THE OMEN is an outstanding gothic cult horror thriller of the 70s, made 3 years after THE EXORCIST. While THE EXORCIST was unnecessarily hyped as a scandal movie (it didn't impress me much) THE OMEN was spared such a fate. It was banned for about 3 years in New Zealand, but available everywhere else. It doesn't make THE OMEN any less creepy, though - a demonic child, intense and disturbing, but rather unbloody, death scenes and a very unsettling atmosphere certainly don't make this a movie for everyone.
Directed by Richard Donner, who brought us the LETHAL WEAPON movies and the awesome LADYHAWKE, did a great job with THE OMEN, which sure deserves its cult status. Relying less on gore and more on atmosphere, this is more a thriller than a horror movie.
The cast is great, especially Gregory Peck, who is just a brilliant actor, and also Patrick Troughton (Klove from SCARS OF DRACULA) who brilliantly plays Father Brennan or the especially creepy nanny Mrs. Baylock (played by Billie Whitelaw). We also get to see a young David Warner and Lee Remick. Also remarkable: Harvey Stephens who plays Damien.
Charlton Heston, Roy Scheider, Dick Van Dyke and William Holden were considered for the lead role of American ambassador Robert Thorn, but turned down the role.
Jerry Goldsmith deserves to be mentioned for his great score that really add to the movie's atmosphere - especially the credits at the beginning - and he more than deservedly won the Oscar for his score (I'll just say "Ave Satani").
Personally, I liked THE OMEN better than THE EXORCIST. THE EXORCIST is overrated, THE OMEN is just really good, while it does avoid anything really taboo breaking and gorehounds will probably scoff at it, still it is a gothic horror thriller at its very best.
THE OMEN spawned 3 sequels of descending quality, a spin-off and an abysmal remake.

RATING: 8 / 10

THE BLU-RAY

Reviewed version: 2009 20th Century Fox UK Blu-Ray
Feature running time: 106 mins. (uncut)
Rating: R (MPAA) / 18 (BBFC)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS HD, French 5.1 DTS, Italian 5.1 DTS, Turkish 5.1
Subtitles: English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish
Chapters: 36
Extras: Commentary, Isloated Score Track, \Interviews, Bonus View Trivia Track, Introduction by Donner, Deleted Scene, Featurettes, Theatrical Trailer, Still Gallery
Region: A, B, C (region free)

Picture: B
Audio: B
Extras: A
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1976's The Omen was easily the best of the wave of Devil movies to come along in the wake of The Exorcist's success, relying less on alternating a naturalistic style with shockingly graphic setpieces but instead putting its faith in a beautifully constructed screenplay that mixed a modern interpretation of the Book of Revelations with a changeling story. Like The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby it puts a Satanic spin on parental fears - in this case the cuckoo in the nest and a mother's fear of her own child. Despite the still impressively spectacular deaths, it's less a horror film and more of a supernatural thriller played straight as Gregory Peck's ambassador is gradually led to believe that his troublesome illegally adopted four-year-old son's real dad might just have horns and a tail and be pretty handy with a pitchfork. Although there are still signs that somewhere along the way the film was aimed for an ambiguity that it never really achieves (is the brat really the AntiChrist or just a very naughty boy? Is Peck seeing the truth or going mad?) Its strength is that it plays its premise absolutely straight. It's helped by some fine casting - Lee Remick, Billie Whitelaw, Leo McKern, Patrick Troughton and especially David Warner as the cynical paparazzi whose photos give the film its title and provide its best chills - and is extremely well directed by Richard Donner, who displays a magnificent use of the Scope frame that leaves the film rather diminished in panned-and-scanned TV outings, while Stuart Baird's excellent editing combines with Jerry Goldsmith's sinister score to make the most of the material. It was a tough act to follow, but even so it's a shame just how far its successors fell short.

Fox's Blu-ray carries over the extras from the previous two-disc DVD - two directors audio commentaries, deleted scene, featurettes Jerry Goldsmith on The Omen Score, Curse or Coincidence?, 666 - The Omen Revealed, The Screenwriter's Notebook, Wes Craven o The omen and the first part of The Omen Legacy that's spread over the first four films, as well as the trailer and teaser trailer - and offers a fine 2.35:1 widescreen transfer. The European issue only includes a remixed stereo soundtrack option, however: for the original mono soundtrack as well, you need to get the US Blu-ray, though be aware that it's Region A-locked. Sadly both versions have the same terrible cover art.
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This 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 in the mid nineteen seventies. I know. I was one of that audience. This film has withstood the test of time, as it is as gripping today, as when it was first released.
Katherine (Lee Remick) and Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) are a wealthy, older American couple. Katherine is pregnant and, while in Italy, gives birth to an ostensibly stillborn boy, a fact that is kept from her. Knowing how much his wife wanted the baby and the difficulty that she had in conceiving, Robert agrees to have the dead baby supplanted by a living newborn whose mother died in child birth, keeping this information from Katherine. They name this baby Damien.
All goes well for the prosperous Thorn family, until Damien turns five. A series of dramatic, unusual events begin to occur around the Thorns, all seemingly stemming from Damien. Well guarded by a self sufficient, somewhat creepy nanny (Billie Whitelaw), there are those who would believe him to be the Antichrist. By the time that Katherine and Robert begin to realize who Damien may truly be, their lives are out of control. With the aid of an inquisitive photographer, a repentant priest, and an archaeologist who holds the key to the destruction of the Antichrist, Robert Stone becomes a man with a mission. Will Damien let him complete that mission? Watch this movie and find out. You will not be disappointed. I guarantee that you will be sleeping with the lights on and the covers over your head.
David Seltzer wrote a terrific screenplay. 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 musical score for The Omen, won an Academy Award for his efforts.
The DVD is 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 eerie pitfalls that beset the cast and crew during the filming of the movie. The composer also has a small segment of his own. There are the other standard features, such as theatrical trailers and scene selections, as well as crystal clear visuals and audio. This is a first rate DVD of a film well worth having in one's collection. Bravo!
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on 31 March 2006
I watched this film for the first time when I was 12 and I was afraid to go alone in the dark for about a week. This film proves that the horror genre is not just about blood, guts and gore, and that things can be scary without using that. The film relies on psychological horror and suspense, although there are parts of the film which are very violent. Although the film has a good cat, including Gregory Peck(To Kill A Mocking Bird) and Lee Remick(Days of Wine and Roses), the star of the film is, then 5-year-old Harvey Stephens, whose terrifying stare and smile really hepled the film become the classic that it is now. Another winner is Jerry Goldsmith's score, which won the film an acedemy award, and Richard Donner(Superman, Lethal Weaposn) for his directing which helped give the film its creepy atmosphere and scary shocks. Also watch out for the scene with the pain of glass: it will stay with you forever.
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on 17 January 2014
"The Omen" is a fantastic example of the pleasure of Blu-ray: older films upgraded to stunning 1080p high definition and looking better than ever. Obviously the HD picture is not in the same crystal clear league as something modern like Avatar or Prometheus, but for a film from the mid-1970s the picture is fabulous.

Extras-wise "The Omen" also delivers nicely. There is an audio commentary by director Richard Donner and Brian Helgeland, an introduction by Richard Donner, deleted scene with commentary, a behind-the-scenes look in the form of '666: The Omen Revealed', Wes Craven professing his love for the film, and various others features. If you're someone how enjoys learning about how the film was made, then you will not be disappointed by this Blu-ray.
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VINE VOICEon 4 November 2006
When Katherine Thorne (Lee Remick) gives birth to a still-born baby her husband, Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck), the current ambassador of the UK, replaces the baby (without her knowledge) with another baby born on the same night who's mother had died during the birth.. The baby was born on the 6th hour of the 6th day of the 6th month (June). They name the baby Damien (Harvey Stephens). The three of them move into a mansion and the all live together happily. But thing start to go wrong for them, starting at Damiens' fifth birthday party when the young maid of the house hangs herself by jumping off the roof proclaiming: "Damien, it's all for you!". A series of equally mysterious deaths lead Robert Thorn to discover the truth that his adopted son is the literal anti-christ - but can he stop Damien before it is too late . . .

`The Omen' is a first class, cult favourite film with a riveting storyline, a talented cast and a chilling musical score. Although this is a horror film it relies more on shock tactics and suspense than it does on blood and gore. The musical score (on recent television performances and DVD releases of the movie) has been digitally remastered with a new Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Mix in comparison to when it originally came out in 1976, but it is still not as good as I should be; it deserves the full 5.1 Remix.

The movie has not got any one particular protagonist, although the two obvious choices would be Robert Thorne and Damien Thorne. In my opinion, Robert is the protagonist, but I thought that the latter was a better and more interesting character so I would consider Damien to be the anti-hero.

In `The Omen' Katherine and Robert Thorne are a rich American couple who move to England while Katherine is pregnant. The birth does not go as planned and she delivers a still-born baby. In order to keep this devastating news from his wife - knowing how much she had wanted a baby - Robert replaces the still-born with another new-born baby whose mother died during the birth. They decide to name the child Damien.

Shortly after Roberts' wife has a terrible `accident' and ends up in hospital, a photographer (David Warner) shows him photographs that he has taken of the people from around Damien who have died under mysterious circumstances. The pictures all contain similar oddities and this leads Robert on a journey to Rome which leads him to the terrifying conclusion that Damien is the son of the devil.

My only complaint about this movie would be that between scenes of action - or scenes featuring Damien - this movie can get a bit slow. Nevertheless, the only point where the plot moves along slowly enough to be considered `boring' is in the middle when Robert Thorne, along with a photographer (whose name we never learn), travel to Rome to discover the truth about Damien and where he came from. Even though I found it slightly boring, twenty-five minutes of not-very-interesting storyline is not enough to take any merit away from the other hour and a half of the film, which was very enjoyable.

Even though it was made thirty years ago this movie is still very popular today and is not showing signs of its age - even in comparison with today's big blockbuster, special effects, hi-tech, movies. I highly recommend this movie to any fan of the horror genre, especially if they are looking for a good movie and not just buckets of gore.
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on 9 January 2009
I sometimes enjoy annoying 'serious filmgoers' by trying to convince them that American Beauty is not as good a film as American Pie. The fact is, I actually believe that. But if you really want to get them, tell them this film is better than The Exorcist. They'll go bananas - but it's true!

I agree that The Exorcist came first, but this is a vast improvement. The best thing about The Exorcist was the sound. That says it all really. It succeeded because, at the time, people thought that being posessed by The Devil was fair enough. In today's more secular age, where even the buses tell you there's probably no God (much less The Devil), it's hard not to find The Exorcist incredibly boring, slow-moving and frequently unintentionally funny. The fact that it has been parodied so often doesn't help either.

The Omen, on the other hand, like Magic and The Medusa Touch which came out at around the same time, builds wonderfully and rests on the performance of the troubled male lead. Is Gregory Peck going mad? Could his son REALLY be The Devil?

Well, of course he is, but from the first hints that this may be so until the penny finally drops (too late), it's a splendidly tense ride - enjoyably so. The sequence where Patrick Troughton's priest meets his end at the hands of a lightning conductor is one of the best in any horror film. Whenever I go to a Fulham match and walk past that church and through Bishop's Park, I get a delightful shiver recalling this film.

Talking of which, avoid the remake at all cost! The script is virtually identical but the London locations which work so well here are missing. They shot it more cheaply in the Czech Republic but pretended it was London. They didn't fool anyone - the shop fronts are clearly all Czech!

This original is one of the best horror films of all time.
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on 21 June 2015
Not sure about the front sleeve of this film.
Still it might be old, but goody film. Not quite
the shocker it was, but still is good. Shackey
accent from Billie Whitelaw, but oh boy, is she evil.
most likely the best acting of the lot. A wasted use
of Lee Remick. As for the little boy maybe not acting
but been a little Devil.
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This 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 in the mid nineteen seventies. I know. I was one of that audience. This film has withstood the test of time, as it is as gripping today, as when it was first released.
Katherine (Lee Remick) and Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) are a wealthy, older American couple. Katherine is pregnant and, while in Italy, gives birth to an ostensibly stillborn boy, a fact that is kept from her. Knowing how much his wife wanted the baby and the difficulty that she had in conceiving, Robert agrees to have the dead baby supplanted by a living newborn whose mother died in child birth, keeping this information from Katherine. They name this baby Damien.
All goes well for the prosperous Thorn family, until Damien turns five. A series of dramatic, unusual events begin to occur around the Thorns, all seemingly stemming from Damien. Well guarded by a self sufficient, somewhat creepy nanny (Billie Whitelaw), there are those who would believe him to be the Antichrist. By the time that Katherine and Robert begin to realize who Damien may truly be, their lives are out of control. With the aid of an inquisitive photographer, a repentant priest, and an archaeologist who holds the key to the destruction of the Antichrist, Robert Stone becomes a man with a mission. Will Damien let him complete that mission? Watch this movie and find out. You will not be disappointed. I guarantee that you will be sleeping with the lights on and the covers over your head.
David Seltzer wrote a terrific screenplay. 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. This is a film well worth having in one’s collection.
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on 19 January 2012
This review is partly based on the Blu-ray, rather than the DVD.

This being one of my all-time favourite horror movies, I felt I had to buy it on Blu-ray when I first got my player. This film, like my other favourites, I have bought on every single format as and when it comes out. I watch these films over and over again so I like to see new versions.

I was not at all disappointed with the quality of the Blu-ray edition. it is quite literally pin-sharp, with beautifully subtle 1970s colours. The atmosphere is chilling, as it always was, but on Blu-ray you really feel as if you are there in the room. Double that with some good surround sound (even stereo speakers will do) and you are experiencing a truly top quality movie masterpiece.

Jerry Goldsmith won an oscar for his amazing soundtrack. For some reason people always think that "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff is the "Omen music" - IT'S NOT. The piece that is often mistaken for it (I don't understand why or how) is "Ave Satani", by Goldsmith. This is enough to chill my bones. The whole soundtrack is a masterpiece in its own right, but combined with the film will change your life.

If you haven't seen this film before, please, please, please, watch it. Do NOT watch the 2006 remake - it's awful.
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