The Omen franchise
This classic, top class horror is pure genius from start to finish. The original 1976 suspense horror was directed by Richard Donner. The movie starred renowned stars, Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, who starred as the adoptive parents of Satan’s spawn, Damian. David Warner was fantastic as photographer (Keith Jennings), as was Billie Whitelaw as the menacing Mrs. Baylock. Not to mention Patrick Troughton (of Dr.Who fame) as the haunting Father Brennan. It is the first film in The Omen series and was scripted by David Seltzer, who also wrote the novel.
The Omen earned respectability for its A- list stars, who played their roles with complete conviction; The seriousness of the movie which plays as a thriller, drawing a lot on paranoia and the possibilities of coincidences throughout a lot of the movie. Not to mention the brilliance and originality of the movie's Oscar winning score by Jerry Goldsmith, which was not used in the re-make, and is now iconic.
The original and the best of the franchise for many reasons, the cast, the score, the script. Gregory Peck is fantastic as Robert Thorn the doting father and husband, and Lee Remick plays Katherine Thorn with a beautiful innocence, with her fear and paranoia acted fantastically. Harvey Stephens is also fantastic as the creepy young Damien Thorn.
A documentary entitled "The Curse of 'The Omen'" was shown on British TV. The production of ‘The Omen’ was plagued with a series of strange incidents which some members of the crew attributed to a curse. They wondered if these events were due to supernatural forces trying to prevent the filming of the movie. Instances included: Scriptwriter David Seltzer's plane was struck by lightning. Star Gregory Peck, in a separate incident, had his plane struck by lightning. Richard Donner's hotel was bombed by the Provisional IRA. Gregory Peck canceled his reservation on a flight. The plane he had originally chartered crashed, killing all on board (a group of Japanese businessmen). A warden at the safari park used in the "crazy baboon" scene was attacked and killed by a lion the day after the crew left. Rottweilers hired for the film attacked their trainers. On the first day of shooting, the principal members of the crew got in a head-on car crash.
The first sequel of The Omen series came in 1978. Set seven years after the first film, it was directed by Don Taylor and featured an all-star cast, Damien is now living in Chicago with his father's brother Richard Thorn (William Holden) Lee Grant plays his wife, Ann Thorn, and Jonathan Scott-Taylor puts in a fantastic performance as thirteen year old, Damian Thorn, with his menacing eyes and distinctive voice.
The plot is set seven years after the events of the original. Damien Thorn is now 13 and living with his uncle Richard Thorn, a wealthy industrialist, his uncle's second wife, Ann, and Richard's son from his first marriage, Mark. Damien and Mark are both enrolled in a military academy. The movie is a fantastic sequel, with a strong story and is similar to the first movie by driving the movie a lot with thriller esque qualities. Jonathan Scott-Taylor (Damien) stands out, at first not really understanding why these deaths surround him, then hating what he is after a terrifying discovery of his birthmark (the three six’s on his scalp) and finally accepting his power with glee.
There are some horrific death scenes in this movie, and they far outdo the first in gore, they are however very creepy – the worst being an ‘accident’ in an elevator. Journalist, Joan Hart (Elizabeth Shephard), also meets a nasty end after trying to warn Richard Thorn exactly who his nephew is, while also playing a brilliant part. The whole cast is stellar, and this was a fantastic sequel.
After screenwriter, Harvey Bernhard had finished writing the story outline and was given the green light to start the production; the first person he contacted was Jerry Goldsmith. Bernhard felt that Goldsmith's music for ‘The Omen’ was a high point, and that without Goldsmith's score, the sequel would not be as successful. Goldsmith's ‘Omen II’ score uses similar motifs to his original Omen score, but for the most part, Goldsmith avoided re-using the same musical cues. In fact, the first movie's famous "Ave Santani" theme is used only partially, just before the closing credits begin.
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