The Omen (1976), Collector’s Edition

by | Jun 12, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

The Omen (1976), Collector’s Edition

Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner
Score: Jerry Goldsmith
Studio: 20th Century Fox 29
Video: 2.35:1 enhanced for 16:9 widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DD mono, English/Spanish/French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, also English captions
Extras:  (2 discs) Commentary by Director Richard Donner & Editor Stuart Baird; Intro to the disc by Donner; Commentary by Richard Donner & screenwriter Brian Helgeland; Featurette: “Curse or Coincidence;” Jerry Goldsmith discusses his Omen score; Still photo gallery; Deleted scenes with commentary; Documentaries: “666: The Omen Revealed,” “The Omen Legacy;” Screenwriter’s Notebook; Wes Craven on The Omen
Length: 111 minutes
Rating: ****

I haven’t seen the remake, but although it may have better special effects it lacks Gregory Peck and one of Jerry Goldsmith’s best film scores, which secured him an Academy Award in 1976. A reviewer of the new theatrical feature said this original seemed dated next to it, but the only area I felt was dated was telephones – clunky dial phones everywhere and no cell phones at all!  The Omen wasn’t up to the level of The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby, but it’s worth seeing again in this present time when we’re being bombarded by new feature films and TV series involving all sorts of religious iconography and supernatural doings.

This was the first and best of a four-part series which might be described as a sort of coming-of-age movie series about the Antichrist.  Peck is an ambassador who takes up a priest’s offer to switch his wife’s stillborn baby with an orphaned infant whose mother had just died in the same hospital. When Damien (that name ought to make us suspicious, right?) reaches five years of age, his nanny dramatically hangs herself during his lavish birthday party. The deaths and accidents of those near him mount up steadily from then on. I wondered if Damien’s furious pedaling around in circles on his tricycle, building up steam for his streak across the balcony to knock his supposed mother off to the floor below, became Stanley Kubrick’s inspiration for the child on the tricycle racing down the hallways in The Shining?  David Warner plays a photographer who helps Peck in uncovering the true threat. Eventually the ambassador accepts the dramatic evidence about his son carrying “the mark of the beast” and decides he must kill the boy to prevent evil taking over the world. Since there were three more movies, evidently he didn’t succeed.  Highly entertaining, partly because the killings are well-paced and circumspect – not like today’s horror movies – and Goldsmith’s creepy score is most effective. These extras packages are getting so voluminous you can spend an entire weekend immersed in one movie if you’re really into it.

 – John Sunier

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