The impact of a movie can often be felt not merely in box office totals, but how society changes after the release. When Love Story came out in the early ’70s, mothers across the nation for a few years had to name their daughter Jennifer after the doomed character. There must be tens of thousands of Jennifers from this era. There was the exact opposite effect when The Omen was released. Odds are if you know of anyone named Damien, they were born before 1976 or had parents with a wicked sense of humor. Thanks to the movie, the name Damien would forever be pegged with The Anti-Christ. The film had such an impact that it inspired two more theatrical sequels that finished up the saga, a TV movie that wanted to revive the concept and a remake that arrived for the 30th anniversary. Now all five of these films have been boxed up for The Omen Collection: Deluxe Edition to scare you into not having children.
The Omen (1976 – 111 minutes) was a classy horror film since it starred Gregory Peck (To Kill A Mockingbird) and Lee Remmick (A Face In the Crowd) as Robert and Katherine Thorn. This film did not star the usual second tier stars that worked in the genre. They were big names in a film that was going to scare you in a religious way like a Nun at a ruler factory. Robert’s from a rich family and is a fast moving member of the State Department. Things are going great for the couple until one night in Rome when Katherine gives birth. The child dies upon birth, but she doesn’t know it. A priest at the hospital points out that another mother around the same time died while giving birth to a son. To make things simple, he offers Robert the newborn baby and a promise to never tell Katherine that it wasn’t her real son. Far as she knows, Damien is the baby that was inside her for 9 months. Things get better for Robert and his new family since he gets appointed the ambassador to the United Kingdom. During Damien’s fifth birthday, things get awkward fast. A fierce Rottweiler hangs out on the fringe of a lavish party. The sweet Nanny gives the child a rather inappropriate gift that puts an end to the fun and games. Later a priest (Doctor Who‘s Patrick Troughton) visits Robert with news about the true nature of Damien, but dad won’t listen until it’s too late. Also a photographer (Titanic‘s David Warner) has found strange issue with his camera where he can predict how people can die. All the while people are dying thanks to Damien. Eventually Robert learns the true nature of the child from Carl Bugenhagen (Rumpole of the Bailey‘s Leo McKern) and how to stop the evil from growing.
The Omen proved to be a massive hit. People stopped naming their child Damien. Kids on playgrounds searched their heads for “666” birthmarks. People debated whether this is how the Antichrist could arrive. Some may say that the film is a knock-off of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. But The Omen taps into the audience that wanted more scares from a Catholic perspective in a new nightmare. The devil didn’t enter the Thorns life through a quest for fame or a Ouija board. The Thorns just wanted a baby and Robert didn’t want his wife to suffer. And even then, they might have been set up by the evil conspirators. As much as having a top flight cast helped the film, the real star was Jerry Goldsmith’s score that must have caused a few people in 1976 to lose bowel control. The music is spiritually ominous like a gargoyle on a Gothic cathedral. Goldsmith rightfully won the Oscar for his work. The film was a massive hit for troubled Fox and the influx of money helped the fund a little movie called Star Wars. Naturally the studio that cranked out all those Planet of the Apes films were eager to give us a sequel and we got to see an older Damien in action.
Damien: The Omen II (1978 – 107 minutes) opens with archaeologist Carl Bugenhagen (The Prisoner‘s Leo McKern) discovering the fate of the Thorns. He appeals to his friend (The Avengers‘ Ian Hendry) to see a dig that proves Damien is really the Anti-Christ. Deep in the project is a wall with a painting of a face that looks like Damien. Before they can report their discovery and warn the world, the ceiling collapse and both men are buried alive. Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) gets to go on with his new life. He’s being raised by his Uncle Richard (The Wild Bunch‘s William Holden) and his new wife Ann (Valley of the Doll‘s Lee Grant). He’s sent off to a military school with his cousin. Things begin to change for Damien and he learns of his true self. He discovers who around him have been protecting him. He begins to consolidate power over the Thorn empire. This includes elevator accidents, hockey rinks breaking and railroad yard mishaps. He won’t be stopped as a teenager from his adult destiny. William Holden had originally turned down the role of Damien’s father since he thought The Omen would be forgettable schlock. He was quick to sign up for the Uncle role. The movie was a hit.
Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981 – 108 minutes) was originally released as The Final Conflict which made sense when put in the context of Fox releasing the two Star Wars sequels originally as Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But they were quick to stick Omen III at the start of the title when home video arrived. Damien (Jurassic Park‘s Sam Neill) is now a powerful billionaire with his Thorn empire putting its fingers in so many things and being ready to squeeze humanity. However he needs to be the Ambassador to the United Kingdom to fulfill his destiny. He gets this gig when the ambassador dies in a rather complicated method using typewriter ribbon. The president of the United States is so eager to put Damien in power, he lets him keep running his company while at the embassy. Damien has to deal with the arrival of another Christ. If he can prevent the baby from living, he will control the world. The only thing out to stop him is a religious order with special daggers. But the religious order seems to be the Brothers of the Keystone Kops as they can’t figure out a way to stab him. We do get the final showdown as promised between Damien and his ultimate nemesis. Sam Neill had just made My Brilliant Career and is wonderfully cunning in the role.
Omen IV: The Awakening (1991 – 97 minutes) attempts to revive The Omen franchise by making it a TV movie that aired on the Fox network when the studio wanted to revive properties. They twist things up so it’s not a direct remake. This time a Congressman and his wife have problems conceiving go to an orphanage and adopt a girl named Delia. Turns out she might be the new Antichrist. The family hires Michael Lerner (Barton Fink) to investigate Delia’s biological parents. The ending also has a twist on the original when the wife gets pregnant through an embryo implant that Delia doesn’t seem to want to stop. The film is fine for a TV movie although a step down from the first three mainly because they can’t get R-rated in the murder scenes and the music isn’t as imposing.
The Omen (2006 – 110 minutes) is a remake that was released on June 6, 2006 to cash in on the 6/6/06 element. The remake’s script sticks close to David Seltzer’s original script to such a degree that producers hired Seltzer to be the screenwriter. There’s a few modern update elements including having Damien use a scooter when terrorizing his mother and cellphones. Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) plays Robert Thorn with a touch of the gravitas that Peck exuded. Julia Stiles (The Bourne Identity) is the unsuspecting mother. The cast also includes Mia Farrow, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite and Michael Gambon The film plays well, but sadly is missing the one element that made the original so memorable: the score. Marco Beltrami’s charts are serviceable, but not memorable. There’s nothing about his music that truly elevates the tension and the nightmare. Is this his fault or director John Moore not wanting to do more than give the audience the notes. The remake will not make you want to completely write off the original.
The Omen Collection: Deluxe Edition really gets deep into the movie franchise. By the time you’ve watched all five films, you’ll be checking out all your loved ones for 666 birthmarks.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic for the first three films. The other two are 1.85:1 anamorphic. All of them look mint especially the 4K transfer from the original negative on the first Omen. You get all the nightmares of the antichrist’s arrival. The audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1 for the first three films and the remake. The Awakening is DTS-HD MA Stereo since it was mixed for TV before surround sound. The first two have their DTS-HD Mono mixes and the third includes DTS-HD Stereo mix. All sound sharp although the first one gives you that amazing music so cleanly, you’ll swear the conspiracy is around you. The movies are subtitled.
DISC ONE: THE OMEN (1976)
The Devil’s Word (23:25) is an Interview With Screenwriter David Seltzer. He talks about how he worked with the producer to create the script. He based the action in England because he wanted to visit there. Once Seltzer dropped by my office at a film archive and we joked that he worked on both Willy Wonka and The Omen which featured two kids who get the strangest golden tickets. He was as easy going back then as he’s in the interview.
It’s All For You (13:14) sits down with Actress Holly Palance. She was the nurse who gives Damien the ultimate birthday present. She’s shocked at how much the scene is remembered. She talks about working with Richard Donner.
The Devil’s Music (19:05) interviews composer Christopher Young about Jerry Goldsmith’s Legendary Score. He gets into how the music pushed the supernatural elements in the film. Goldsmith passed away in 2004. He is interviewed as part of The Omen Legacy.
Four Audio Commentaries cover so many aspects of the film. The first and newest is with Special Project Consultant Scott Michael Bosco. He deals with the historic aspects of the film. Director Richard Donner And Editor Stuart Baird go into the cutting of the film and how it created mystery to set up the scares. A second track has director Richard Donner And Filmmaker Brian Helgeland discuss the movie. Finally there’s Film Historians Lem Dobbs, Nick Redman, And Jeff Bond breaking down the film and it’s impact over the decades.
Isolated Score Track lets you fully appreciate Jerry Goldsmith’s work.
Richard Donner On The Omen (14:37) has him talk about how he was stuck working in TV and got his shot on The Omen.
The Omen Revelations (24:10) has people talk about how the film goes deep into the Book of Revelation.
Curse Of Coincidence? (6:22) has crew discuss the strange things that happened. People think the Devil was screwing things up like a TWA flight that kept getting hit by lightning.
666: The Omen Revealed (46:18) goes deep into the production.
Screenwriter’s Notebook – An Interview With Writer David Seltzer (14:53) is more discussion of how Seltzer was broke and this gig came at the right time. He was about to lose both of his cars. It’s like a deal with the devil.
Introduction With Director Richard Donner (2006) (1:56) is how he introduced the film on the 2006 home video release. He thanks Alan Ladd.
Deleted Scene With Commentary (1:26) is extra business from the big finale sequence. Donner tells how they got the dog to attack the car so passionately.
An Appreciation – Wes Craven On The Omen (20:17) has the horror master reflect on how the film impacted him.
Jerry Goldsmith Discusses The Omen Score (17:37) talks about how he approached the scenes and provided the themes.
Trailers From Hell Featuring Commentary By Filmmaker Larry Cohen (2:46) has him talk about his passion for the film. Larry Cohen recently passed away after a great career that included It’s Alive.
Theatrical Trailer (2:25) sets up the Thorns as a wonderful couple who just wanted a baby. Except their son went evil at five years old.
TV Spots (1:24) makes you wonder what could happen to get the baboons so angry.
Radio Spots (3:51) will scare you when you’re driving back from the mall after dark.
Still Galleries includes Behind The Scenes (5:46), Movie Stills (6:17), Posters & Lobby Cards (6:09) and Publicity (1:31). They sold this movie like a deal with the devil.
DISC TWO: DAMIEN: OMEN II (1978)
Damien’s Guardian (15:56) interviews with Actress Lee Grant. She liked the first film and was amazed that the leads were such big stars making a supernatural horror. This allowed her to feel comfortable being offered the role. She was excited to work with William Holden. She talks about the work she did with Holden before the cameras started running.
The Devil’s CEO (16:21) sits down with interview With Actor Robert Foxworth. He admits he was needing work and would take any role, but working with William Holden and Lee Grant made it so much better than just a work gig. He hadn’t seen the first film or later the sequels.
The Harbinger (26:34) chats with actress Elizabeth Shepard. She is not a fan of horror, but did two of them including Omen II and The Tomb of Ligeia. She bonded with Mike Hodges when he was still the director. Shepard was the original Mrs Peel on The Avengers, but was let go after two episodes were shot and never released with her in the lead.
Elizabeth Shepherd’s Scrapbook (3:36) is a look at her Behind The Scenes Photos. She explains her fight with the bird and the semi truck. She remembers her bird actor fondly.
Audio Commentary With Special Project Consultant Scott Michael Bosco has him go into the background on the movie.
Audio Commentary With Producer Harvey Bernhard gives quite a few tales from behind the scenes. He points out one of the stars fell out of the Jeep they were driving. He talks about coming up with the story for his sequel.
Power And The Devil: The Making of Damien: Omen II (7:21) is a vintage featurette. It speaks of the face of evil and shows the hockey scene stunt.
Theatrical Trailer (3:03) recounts the first film as it warns us that the first film was only a warning.
TV Spot (1:33) promises us more big stars and frights coming from the Anti-Christ.
Radio Spot (1:31) will scare you on your Sunday drive to church.
Still Gallery (6:34) includes press photos, lobby cards, posters and more.
DISC THREE: OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT (1981)
The Devil In The Detail (24:56) has Director Graham Baker relate the film to recent events in the 21st Century. It predicted the idea of a billionaire getting a government business without having toe worry about giving up control of their corporations.
Resurrecting The Devil (20:30) speaks with Screenwriter/Associate Producer Andrew Birkin about getting hired to do the film. He hadn’t seen The Omen film when he was offered the job. He was happy to get the job since BBC didn’t pay like The Omen did.
Interview With Production Assistant Jeanne Ferber (16:38) has he talk about working for Harvey Bernhard. She talks about the talent search that found Sam Neill. She enjoyed working for Bernhard.
Audio Commentaries include one with Special Project Consultant Scott Michael Bosco and a second with director Graham Baker. Baker talks about the history of making the film.
Theatrical Trailer (1:51) gives a quick summary of the first two films and how it was all coming down in this third film.
TV Spots (1:03) has the Son of Satan ready to take control of the world.
Still Gallery (3:54) includes production photos, press pics, posters and lobby cards.
DISC FOUR: OMEN IV: THE AWAKENING (1991)
The Book Of Evil (18:11) speaks with screenwriter Brian Taggert about getting on the project. He says the producer wasn’t happy with The Final Conflict. Taggert met once with the producer and got the job the next morning. He was happy they let him keep the rattlesnake bit scene. The film was shot with Fox TV in mind for America, but abroad the movie received a theatrical run which afforded a better budget.
Theatrical Trailer (1:19) seems to be from the video release of this installment.
Still Gallery (2:14) are press photos from when it was released on TV and foreign lobby cards.
The Omen Legacy (101 minutes) is a documentary On The Omen films. It goes deep into how the films were made and the response to them. This covers the first four movies with interviews and behind the scenes footage.
DISC FIVE: THE OMEN (2006)
Audio Commentary With Director John Moore, Producer Glenn Williamson and Editor Dan Zimmermann talks of the production and the “cursed” moments. Was the devil trying to screw up the film? They let us know that Fox executives refused to let them tint the corporate logo red.
Unrated Extended Scenes And Extended Ending (7:09) includes the priest’s demise where he looks like Pinhead from Hellraiser, a roofing accident and the ending with more footage.
Omenisms (37:19) is a Behind The Scenes of The Omen remake. They bring up the horrible things on the set including how an entire day’s negatives was destroyed. Was this production cursed? The big thing was to open the film on June 6, 2006 so the date would be 6-6-06.
Abbey Road Recording Sessions Featurette (10:14) has them work in the same space as The Beatles.
Revelation 666: Behind The Scenes (22:17) is a TV special about the number that includes a Poker champion known as the Unabomber.
Theatrical Trailers (3:56) wants to scare us with a creaky swing and a stare. They work the 6-6-06 into the horror.
Scream Factory presents The Omen Collection: Deluxe Edition. Directed by Richard Donner, Don Taylor, Graham Baker, Jorge Montesi, Dominique Othenin-Girard & John Moore. Original Screenplay by: David Seltzer. Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Grant, Lee Remick, William Holden, Sam Neill and Patrick Traughton. Rated: R. Boxset Contents: 5 movies on 5 Blu-ray Discs. Released: October 15, 2019.
Tags: Gregory Peck, Scream Factory, The Omen, The Wild Bunch