The Omen title

Tag Line : Our Final Warning.

The OmenFollowing the success of "The Exorcist" in the early 70's, creepy kids were in vogue, and so 20th Century Fox quickly commissioned this script by David Seltzer to cash in on the current popularity of demonic children.

Set in England, Gregory Peck stars as American Ambassador Robert Thorn. Traumatised by the death of his newborn son, a sympathetic priest offers him the chance to adopt a newborn baby who's mother passed away during childbirth.

At first things go well and no-one seems any the wiser that young Damien is not actually theirs. But as soon as he hits his fifth birthday, weird things start to happen. His child minder quite publicly hangs herself, a day at the safari park turns into a scene from "Battle for the Planet of the Apes", he throws a major strop at a friends wedding, and what the hell is up with that creepy new nanny and where did that Rottweiller come from for that matter?

It also seems that anyone who has an inkling as to Damien's true origins quickly falls victim to a bizarre accident, as a local priest (Patrick Troughton) finds out when he tries to warn Mr Thorn about his son, only to come to a suitably "sticky" end when a freak lightning bolt dislodges his church's weather vein. But when Robert Thorn is contacted by a newspaper photographer (David Warner), who's pictures seemed to foretell these freak deaths he begins to take notice of the old priests warnings.

Could Damien really be the anti-Christ, or are these freak occurrences and deaths just a coincidence, and if so how far will his father go to stop him?

Also starring Lee Remick and Leo McKern (Old "Rumpole of the Bailey" himself), this is a classic demonic tale, which although looking a little dated now and proving not to be quite as good as the Exorcist, should be on your list of classic horror "must-sees".

Overall Marks : 6/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • Alternate tag lines "It is the greatest mystery of all because no human being will ever solve it", "Good morning. You are one day closer to the end of the world. You have been warned", "Those who foretold it are dead. Those who can stop it are in grave danger", "If Something Frightening Happens To You Today, Think About It. It May Be The Omen".

  • The films budget was $2,800,000.

  • The church used for the wedding scene was Guildford Cathedral in Surrey.

  • The films original title was "The Antichrist", which was later changed to "The Birthmark", before finally being re-titled "The Omen".

  • Gregory Peck apparently only took the role because he hadn't worked in five years and agreed to take a huge cut in salary in order to secure the role. But in exchange they agreed to pay him 10% of the films gross. As the film went on to become a huge box office success it turned out to be the highest paid role of his career.

  • The hospital where Lee Remick's character dives out of the window was Northwick Park Hospital, which is located in North West London.

  • The role of Robert Thorn had originally been offered to Charlton Heston, Roy Scheider and William Holden , but they all declined. Though after the success of the film, Holden did later accept a role in the sequel.

  • Director Richard Donner wanted to hire composer Jerry Goldsmith to score the film, as he felt he would be able to deliver a suitably scary soundtrack, but the budget wouldn't stretch. So he and producer Harvey Bernhard asked studio boss Alan Ladd for additional funds to hire him. Eventually he agreed, much to Donner's delight, and he credits most of the films success to Goldsmith's soundtrack, which made the film appear scarier and also won Goldsmith an academy award,

  • The boy who played Damien, Harvey Stephens, had only one other role, a part in a TV movie about French artist Paul Gaugin. He then left acting and in later life went on to become a property developer. Though he did make a guest appearance in the 2006 remake.

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