on 6 November 2013
About a month ago, I watched "The Exorcist" for the first time in my life. I thought I would find it cheesy to the extent that I would laugh. However, this was not to be the case. I was on edge with fear and excitement. This is coming from someone who has witnessed their fair share of modern gore fests such as "Saw".
With the excitement I got from "The Exorcist", I decided I wanted to watch "The Omen" to see if it would live up to the same enjoyment I got from "The Exorcist". Well, I can say that it did. In a different way, though.
In my opinion, trying to compare "The Omen" to "The Exorcist" is not possible because they each excel in different areas.
I feel "The Exorcist" is more scary. It was difficult to watch at times for someone who had no idea what was coming up. What lets it down, though, is the plot. In contrast, I feel "The Omen" has a much better plot with the flow of the film being better from scene to scene. The overall package was better. What lets this film down, however, was that it was not scary. I needed to be frightened more. I want a horror movie to scare me. Isn't that what it is supposed to do?
In conclusion, I feel they were both excellent in their own right and so cannot be compared to each another. I liked both. However, I can easily see why someone would like one and hate the other. For me, though, both films get 5 stars.
If you have not seen either and want a decent plot, watch "The Omen". If you want to be scared and are not too concerned about the plot, watch "The Exorcist".
on 8 August 2014
Classic horror on Blu-ray.
You'll all know the story by now, and no doubt seen the movie multiple times. An ageless tale of good vs. evil, with some sterling performances from Gregory Peck (the role of Robert Thorn was first offered to William Holden) and Billy Whitelaw.
After Kathy Thorn loses her child during childbirth, her husband agrees to secretly swap him with another child who was also born at the 6th hour, on the sixth day of the sixth month. That little boy was to be called Damien. A series of strange events, and mysterious 'accidents' lead to the Thorn's rise to power, and place Damien on his way to the most powerful position on earth. The rest they say, is history.
Richard Donner's assured direction, Gilbert Taylor's cinematography and Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar winning score make for an atmospheric viewing experience, and while some of the effects have aged and the fashions have dated, it's still miles ahead of similar 'devil child' movies and the vastly inferior 2006 remake.
With superb picture and audio, and a vast array of special features, the Blu-ray really is the best way to own The Omen in your own home. A movie no horror movie buff should be without.
on 8 May 2007
There was a rising trend in the 1970's for excess gore and pushing the boundaries as much as possible within the horror genre. Much of what fitted into the 'video nasty' genre was, as a result, forgettable and throwaway, with the exception of perhaps 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' or 'The Evil Dead'.
The Omen, however, was neither a video nasty, nor a schlocky kind of hammer-esque farce. Instead, it was a reasonably intelligently written supernatural horror exploring biblical dogma which had only occasionally been touched on within the horror genre, in films such as 'Rosemary's Baby'. The Omen took gothic horror to uncharted territory.
Much of the effectiveness comes from the concept of a child being evil, which is something most people find unthinkable. Robert and Cathy Thorn, however, bring up a child who, by his fifth birthday, is already looking more and more disturbed.
Of course, we as the viewer know that the child is not really their's, but actually an unwanted baby who was dumped upon the staff of a monastery. Later, it transpires that 'Damien' was actually born of a Jackal.
The plot very quickly treads into creepy and unnerving territory when, on the day of his fifth birthday, Damien's nanny hangs herself in front of hundreds of guests, from a third-storey window. The camera then slowly moves onto a shot of Damien waving at a demented looking Rottweiler, accompanied by some seriously scary sounding music composed by Jerry Goldsmith.
Indeed, the musical score is one of the most important elements in this film, with regards to atmosphere. It plays an integral part in setting mood and unnerving the listener. Goldsmith's score sounds chilling and at times, threatening.
The unpleasant events keep on unfolding, most notably a rather eventful visit to a church. Upon seeing the church, Damien begins screaming psychotically and attacking his parents. The juxtaposition of infancy and perilous, violent rage is central to the success of this scene, and also the entire film.
A later visit to a Safari Park proves no more successful, as various animals back away from Damien, and then later, hundreds of Baboons attack the car which Damien's mother, played by Lee Remick, is driving. The fright and horror of Cathy is profound, almost tangible, and completely convinving.
This horror then accelerates at a rapid pace, as the Thorn's slowly begin to unravel the horrifying truth about who their son really is, and exactly what he is capable of. Robert Thorn, played superbly by Gregory Peck, becomes particularly determined to discover the truth about his 'son', aided by an unhinged priest and a snooping photographer, both of whom are doomed from the moment they open their mouths.
The sense of foreboding and the deterioration of Cathy's state of mind, and eventually, physical health, along with the sinister appearance of a deeply scary nanny named 'Mrs. Baylock', are both important in creating a sense of great unease and impending doom. The viewer knows that the entire plot and dialogue is building it's way towards a horrifying climax, director Richard Donner leaves us in no doubt about that.
It also must be said that the characterisation is excellent, particularly from Gregory Peck, whose shift from sceptic to terrified parent is a fascinating one. Peck is convincing and real, his fear and anguish affecting. Lee Remick is also superb as the doomed Cathy Thorn, who struggles continuously with her distance from, and suspiscion of Damien.
Additionally, Damien himself, played by Harvey Stephens, and Mrs. Baylock, played by Billie Whitelaw, are both intriguing to watch and sinister at all the right moments. Menace and intimidation are provided in plentiful supply by both of these characters, helpfully aided by a bloodthirsty Rottweiler who is possessed by a need to tear Robert Thorn apart, limb from limb.
The locations are also varied, ranging from America, London and the English countryside, from Rome to Jerusalem, via an extremely unpleasant Italian cemetery occupied by legions of yet more vicious Rottweilers. As you've probably guessed, this film probably hasn't done a great deal to boost the reputation of Rottweilers.
The dialogue and plot are big on suspense, as all classic horror films should be, and although there are a couple of moderately violent moments, this is not a gore-fest in any way, shape or form. It doesn't need to be. It is supernatural horror par excellence, boasting every dramatic device possible to keep the viewer's nerves on edge and their interest captured. As a horror film, it is top drawer, being superbly acted, directed and scripted, whilst also unnerving, if not frightening, many a horror fan for now, over three decades.