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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
This is a first class, gothic chiller with an outstanding cast, a riveting story line, and a musical score that will make the viewer want to sleep with the lights on! A first rate film, it had audiences riveted to the screen when it was first released in the mid nineteen seventies. I know. I was one of that audience. This film has withstood the test of time, as it is as gripping today, as when it was first released.

Katherine (Lee Remick) and Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) are a wealthy, older American couple. Katherine is pregnant and, while in Italy, gives birth to an ostensibly stillborn boy, a fact that is kept from her. Knowing how much his wife wanted the baby and the difficulty that she had in conceiving, Robert agrees to have the dead baby supplanted by a living newborn whose mother died in child birth, keeping this information from Katherine. They name this baby Damien.

All goes well for the prosperous Thorn family, until Damien turns five. A series of dramatic, unusual events begin to occur around the Thorns, all seemingly stemming from Damien. Well guarded by a self sufficient, somewhat creepy nanny (Billie Whitelaw), there are those who would believe him to be the Antichrist. By the time that Katherine and Robert begin to realize who Damien may truly be, their lives are out of control. With the aid of an inquisitive photographer, a repentant priest, and an archaeologist who holds the key to the destruction of the Antichrist, Robert Thorn becomes a man with a mission. Will Damien let him complete that mission? Watch this movie and find out. You will not be disappointed. I guarantee that you will be sleeping with the lights on and the covers over your head.

David Seltzer wrote a terrific screenplay. This first class production, which is deftly directed by Richard Donner, is played with straightforward sincerity by its outstanding cast. The casting of Gregory Peck and Lee Remick was pure genius, as their distinguished reputations infused the movie with a believability not thought possible, given the theme of the script. Playing it straight, as a couple caught in a vortex of events over which they have little control, they sweep the viewer along with them. Supported by a fine cast, there are notable performances given by Billie Whitelaw, as the nanny with a mission, David Warner, as the photographer who begins to notice that something odd seems to be going on, and Harvey Stephens, as Damien, whose angelic countenance belies his satanic nature.

This is a riveting, subtle film that, with a few well planned, shocking moments, and an effectively creepy musical score that builds suspense to a crescendo, manages to thoroughly engage the viewer. If one is looking for a blood and gore fest, there is really none of that here. Instead, look to be scared out of the seat of your pants by a superb script, wonderful acting, deft direction, and a musical score that will long linger in one's memory. It is little wonder that Jerry Goldsmith, the composer of the original score for The Omen, won an Academy Award for his efforts.

The DVD is a loaded DVD with a lot of interesting features. It provides a forty six minute documetary on the making of the film, which is quite interesting., as well as a director's commentary. There is a also an intriguing, six minute short on some of the pitfalls that beset the cast and crew during the filming of the movie. The composer also has a small segment of his own. There are the other standard features, such as theatrical trailers, interactive menus, and scene selections, as well as crystal clear visuals and audio. This is a first rate DVD of a film well worth having in one's collection. Bravo!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2011
The Omen (horror, mystery)
Directed by Richard Donner
Starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and Billie Whitelaw

20th Century Fox | 1976 | 111 min | Rated R | Released Oct 07, 2008

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: Dolby Digital Mono
Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono

English SDH, English, Spanish

Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc

The Film: 4/5

Modern horror movies are very different from films such as The Omen. Released 35 years ago, the movie wasn't gory and certainly wasn't a slasher movie. It relied on creating suspense and tension and was in the tradition of Hitchcock. The characters have proper motivations for their actions and we are shown what those motivations are. It justifies some of the difficult choices made by Robert Thorn (Peck) as he learns the truth about his son.

Director Richard Donner's next movie was Superman, but The Omen, was easily the biggest project of his career at that point. Peck's involvement proved to be a huge draw and the remainder of the cast was happy to join the project.

The story opens in Rome. Thorn is the American ambassador and his wife, Katherine (Remick), is giving birth in hospital. The doctors tell him that his baby has died, but offer him another baby who lost its mother during the birth. Thorn reluctantly accepts, but hides the fact from his wife. Thorn is made ambassador to Britain and the family relocates to London. Things seem normal until Damien is five years old, when his nanny commits suicide at his birthday party.

Father Brennan, a priest from Rome, pays Thorn a visit. He claims that Thorn must take communion and accept Christ if he is to fight the son of the devil. Thorn dismisses him as a lunatic.

A new nanny, Mrs. Baylock (Whitelaw), shows up at the house to take care of Damien, but the Thorn's realize that neither of them arranged it. She is allowed to keep the job and tells Damien in private that she's there to protect him. He smiles. The Thorn's take him to church against the wishes of Baylock, but he throws a fit and they abandon the trip. He's visibly shaking at the thought of entering the church.

Thorn realizes that Damien has never been ill for a single day in his life and considers it odd. Baylock starts to take over the running of the house and allows in a black dog which seems to be another guardian for Damien. Thorn tells her to get rid of it, but she never does.

Nothing has really happened up to this point. Donner gives us clues that there's something weird about Damien, but it's all speculation. We don't actually see him do anything, but things happen to others around him. This is developed when Damien and his mother visit Windsor Safari Park and the animals act scared and run away from the boy. Now both parents are suspicious of Damien.

Father Brennan sees Thorn again and insists that Thorn's wife will die if he refuses to hear what Brennan has to say. He only wants five minutes. Thorn reluctantly agrees to listen, but Brennan sounds crazy once more, insisting that Damien isn't human and must die. Thorn still isn't convinced, but reads about Brennan's mysterious death in the newspaper the following day. Katherine is convinced that Damien is evil and that he's not her child.

Brennan claimed before he died that Katherine was pregnant again, and that she would lose the baby and then her own life. When Thorn learns that she is in fact pregnant, he begins to think about everything that Brennan has said. He teams up with a local photographer who has more information about Brennan and the two begin to look into Damien's origins.

It's incredible how little action there is throughout the movie. Donner relies on the audience's imagination and keeps building suspense. There's very little blood in the story and Damien hardly does anything to suggest that he's evil. Any problems he causes could be genuine accidents. Baylock is a more sinister character and does take direct action when she thinks that Damien is threatened.

The one thing that doesn't quite ring true is how quickly Damien's parents come to consider him evil. The bond between parent and child is usually strong enough for parents to love and forgive their children. Imagine telling any parents that their child is evil or the son of Satan. The likely reaction would be anger and the parents would defend their child against such a crazy accusation. In this instance, both parents come to the same conclusion. Why are they able to see that Damian is evil? Robert does eventually question the logic when he's ultimately tasked with killing the child, but it seems too late to be authentic.

The journey to uncover the truth sees Thorn visit two other countries as he tries to piece together Damien's past. We meet some unusual characters along the way and there's a little more action when he searches for the identity of the child's real mother.

The story has a resolution of sorts, but The Omen eventually became the first part of a trilogy. The other two movies never matched the suspense of the first and didn't attract any actors on Peck's level. Peck was excellent as Thorn and the most interesting part of the story was seeing how he approached the problem.

Picture Quality: 3.5/5
The opening shots are weak and lacking in definition. Some shots are intentionally soft, but the movie is grainy and the colors subdued for the most part. Things pick up in the second half when we see more outdoor scenes. It's hard to pin down the quality because it varies so much. Some shots seem barely above DVD standard, while others border on impressive considering the age of the film. It's obviously as good as it has ever looked, so worth picking up if you are a fan.

Sound Quality: 3.5/5
Jerry Goldsmith won an Oscar for best original score and the demonic singing adds a lot of atmosphere to the story. It sounds impressive on the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, as do some of the more subtle sounds such as gravel crunching underfoot. The track is front-heavy and a little quiet, but it does the job. I did watch it at a slightly higher volume level than most movies, but clarity was good once I had the level sorted out.

Features: 5/5

With over three hours of special features and three commentary tracks, you can satisfy your curiosity about the movie. It's a comprehensive package.

Commentary - Three different tracks.

Isolated Score Track (5.1 Dolby Digital)

Richard Donner on The Omen (14:36)

The Omen Revelations: Bonus View with Trivia Track

Introduction by Director Richard Donner from 2006 (1:55)

Deleted Scene: "Dog Attack" (1:26)

666: The Omen Revealed (46:34)

Screenwriter's Notebook (14:51)

An Appreciation: Wes Craven on The Omen (20:17)

The Omen Legacy (1:41:37)

Curse or Coincidence? (6:19)

Jerry Goldsmith on The Omen Score (17:41)

Theatrical Trailer (2:19)

Still Gallery

The original part of the trilogy remains one of the best horror movies ever made, but it won't appeal to everyone. The pacing will seem slow by today's standards and the story relies on suspense, characterization and acting ability, rather than gore and special effects. Well worth seeing if you want to see how the genre has developed over the past four decades.

Overall score 4/5
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2003
When The Exorcist was released in 1973 the world stood in awe at the horror and gore than was presented before their very eyes. Rip-offs came thick and fast and then came the masterpiece The Omen. This 1976 horror film scored a hit with both critics and cinema-goers alike who had embraced a deep interest in gothic horror and its history. It has a first-rate cast, superb acting, brilliant shock tactics and a soundtrack to send shivers down your spine whatever your state of mind! It's no wonder Jerry Goldsmith won an Academy Award as the composer of the theme! I first saw this film last night when it was shown on UK TV. My mum recommended it to me, as it was a favourite of hers as a teenager and I absolutely loved it.

In The Omen, Katherine (Lee Remick) and Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) are a rich married couple who move to England from America. Katherine is pregnant and gives birth to an ostensibly baby boy while in Italy. This news is kept from her. Her husband knows how much his wife has wanted a baby and the problems she had conceiving, so he agrees to have the dead new-born supplanted by another new-born, whose mother died at child birth. Katherine thinks that the child is her own, but Robert knows it's not and keeps this a secret from her. They name the baby Damien (Harvey Stephens).

Five years pass and we see the family growing up joyfully in their big mansion. They're happy and content with their lives and love their son more than anything. Everything is going well for the Thorn family until Damien turns five. A series of very creepy and unexplainable events happen around the time of his fifth birthday, which all seem to stem from Damien. The family employ a creepy and weird nanny (Billie Whitelaw) and things begin to spiral out of control. Robert and Katherine really start to think that there is something seriously wrong with their child so, with the help of a funny photographer (David Warner), Robert sets out to try and discover the truth about the mysterious events. A stubborn priest tries to warn him when these events happen, but Robert doesn't listen. It soon becomes too late when the man is murdered rather spectacularly.

The horror of this film is based more on the shock tactics more so than the suspense factor, which doesn't make it a very scary film in terms of blood and guts, but more so in the way that it disturbs you deep down and shocks your body. The first big shock of the film comes on Damien's fifth birthday party when his nanny jumps from the top of the mansion roof screaming, "It's all for you Damien!" before hanging herself. Another shock comes when Damien goes hysterical as he nears a church in a car with is mother and father. He later drives his tricycle into his mother's stool as she is doing housework on a balcony. She falls and loses her second baby. Her long stint in hospital tears Robert apart, and her death after she is pushed out of a hospital window tips him over the edge. The death of the priest by a Church-spear is not only shocking, but rather humorous. The scenes in Italy with dogs and spikes and broken arms are spectacular, but the most famous scene comes when the photographer is decapitated by a sheet of glass that slides off the back of a truck which rolls down the hill towards him. A scene that has gone down in history!


The Omen can be a tad boring in between the shocking scenes and good parts of the storyline, but the ending is ten minutes of pure cinema brilliance. The scenes of Robert trying to cope with the world crumbling around him are also pure cinema gold, and shows a wonderfully emotional side to Peck's acting. Caught in a tornado of events of which he cannot control, he sweeps the audience along with him. David Seltzer wrote an awesome script, while Richard Donner works finely and precisely on directing this masterpiece. Essential viewing for all those who love gothic horror and truly great thrillers.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
I have a weird obsession with the first 2 Omen films, and own the DVD boxed set, so I've seen the DVD quite a few times. This special edition includes everything from the first release: Richard Donner's commentary, a deleted scene, the featurette on all the weird coincidences & tragedies that happened around the filming, and the just over 40 minute documentary on the making of the film.

The new features added- not including the spiffy new slip case cover and spooky white cover- are as follows. We get a short introduction from director Donner, a 20 minute featurette that is basically Wes Craven talking about why he likes the film so much. Kind of random stuff, but the thing that made me upgrade is the new, just under 2 hour documentary. It's narrated by Jack Palance- that's worth the money right there- and goes into detail of how it started as an idea as "The Anti-Christ", then "The Birthmark" and finally the completed "The Omen."

This re-release was obviously done to promote the new remake, but they actually make it worth your while. The packaging really is nice, and for fans of the Omen or those interested in the odd happenings that surround it- this is a worthy addition to your collection. For those of you who haven't seen this film before- don't base your judgement on the remake. This is a classy but fast-paced intelligent thriller/horror film, with amazing acting (especially from Gregory Peck) wonderful music and cinematography. The 6/6/06 date has passed, but until the world really does end you should enjoy this cool release and enjoy a time before obvious and tacky CGI jumps were considered "horror".
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2000
There are few viewing experiences like "The Omen". This movie is one of the most astounding motion pictures of all time. It has all the usual good things associated with a great movie (talented cast, good music, good story line) but has also become a classic in the horror genre! The baby-faced incarnation of the anti-christ has become one of the most paradoxically-appealing characters of all time! (Harvey Stevens, the little boy that plays "Damien Thorne" does a superb job acting!)
If you consider yourself to be a horror fan, please, see this movie! While it is definately NOT a blood bath, it is a pyschological terror that will leave you thinking about what you've just seen... months after you've seen it! With confidence, I recommend "THE OMEN" won't regret it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 1999
The Omen, which has been listed in several publications as one of the worst movies of all time, is a terrific commercial entertainment, and will scare the hell out of you, make you sit up and take notice of Revelations, and have you looking verrrrry nervously at any Rottweilers you may come across. Though the screenplay is a cleverly plotted piece of mumbo-jumbo, it works its spell quickly and effectively -- once that nanny snaps her neck, you're hooked, so to speak. Jerry Goldsmith's wonderfully evocative "black mass" score deservedly won an Oscar, and Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and especially Billie Whitelaw as Mrs. Baylock are all up to the devilish proceedings. The graveyard sequence is one of the best horror sequences ever put on film, and will have you gripping your pillow, or the arm of someone you love dearly, in terror. A terrific piece of well-crafted pop entertainment.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2002
One of the most commercially and artistically successful horror films of modern times, the 1976 thriller THE OMEN cagily rode the wave of Satanic thrillers spawned by ROSEMARY'S BABY and THE EXORCIST. Indeed these three films form a devilish cinematic trinity of terror. Although often compared to THE EXORCIST, which it followed by two and a half years, THE OMEN differs from that 1973 shocker by being propelled more by narrative invention than by elaborately disgusting special effects. It is a very disturbing film even to this day, more than a quarter century since its June 1976 release.
Gregory Peck and Lee Remick lend an air of respectability as the U.S. ambassador to England and his wife who adopt a baby boy named Damien, following what would appear at first to be a miscarriage. Five years later, however, things take a rapid and bizarre turn. Damien's nanny (Holly Palance) hangs herself during the child's birthday party; and not long after, she is replaced by a Satanic nanny (Billie Whitelaw) and a vicious mastif dog. A seemingly manic priest (Patrick Troughton) gives Peck scriptural warnings about Damien, which Peck disbelieves; not long after, Troughton is impaled by a church spire during a storm.
Only when a journalist (David Warner) shows him pictures in which these horrible events seem to have a connection does Peck begin to realize that the child he has may not even be real. His suspicions are heightened when Remick suffers a suspicious fall at home and is laid up in bed. And later on, when Whitelaw engineers her death, he comes to realize that Damien is in fact the Antichrist (Devil's Child) as foretold in the Book of Revelations. An exorcist (Leo McKern) tells him he must kill Damien in a church, but his conscience won't let him; and only after Warner is killed in the film's infamous decapitation scene does Peck attempt to go through with it. The result is a suspenseful and disquieting conclusion.
Brilliantly directed by then first-timer Richard Donner (who later made SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE and LETHAL WEAPON) and ingeniously scripted by David Seltzer, THE OMEN was, like ROSEMARY'S BABY and THE EXORCIST before it, a very controversial movie amongst the religious Right in America for its alleged advocation of worshippers of Satan. Such is hardly the case for either three movies, of course; and the controversy only helped boost their box office might. THE OMEN, for instance, made for just over $2 million, has since grossed close to sixty million dollars.
The reasons for this are clear. Peck and Remick, fine actors both, are highly credible as the parents of a child they don't know anything about. Harvey Stephens is chilling as Damien, as is Whitelaw as his sinister nanny. Warner is also good as the journalist. As mentioned before, THE OMEN is more a matter of plot than of shocking effects. The decapitation scene, however, is still quite horrific and gruesome after all these years; and Troughton's impalement is just as jarring. All of this is elevated further by Jerry Goldsmith's sinister and Oscar-winning choral/orchestral score, which sounds like a combination of many different elements; Gregorian chants, Berlioz, Stravinsky, Bernard Herrmann, and even Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana."
Although followed by three increasingly ludicrous sequels, THE OMEN is still a highly-charged horror masterpiece at a time when horror films were still made with terrifying an audience, as opposed to mortifying them. If classic horror is your bag, THE OMEN is as good a place as any to start.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2001
THE OMEN is a truly effective horror film. It is one of the best of the seventies. It may not be as psychologically intense as ROSEMARY'S BABY or religiously disturbing as THE EXORCIST, but it is a wonderful, quiet, and subtly moving story of a caring family torn apart by a terrifying revelation. Gregory Peck plays the US Ambassador who's wife gave birth to a stillborn. Not wanting to break the news to his wife, the hospital offers him the baby of a woman who died after giving birth, a woman who has no living relatives. He accepts and the family live happily until his son, Damien's, fifth birthday, in which the revelation of the antichrist is carried out. The cast is wonderful, adding to the realism and effectiveness of the film. You really feel the Thorns being torn apart by the events that occur, yet still reluctant to believe their son, the child they have been waiting for all their lives, to be the antichrist. Gregory Peck is very good, and gives the film a sense of respectability, and not just a 70's devil film. The talented Lee Remick contributes to the story well, making us especially sympathetic for this unfortunate character. Remick and the whole casts expressions of horrors leave an imprint in your mind for a long time. David Warner plays the curious photographer. The devil is one of the most horrifying evils of the horror film, and this film really takes this subject seriously, thus making the film a more believable movie. Also, this classic movie is completely entertaining. It has some gore for the gore lovers, but also uses it very carefully for those who don't enjoy bloodfests. It is creepy, eerie, and even a bit campy for those who like that sort of thing. Last, but not least, Jerry Goldsmith's Academy Award-winning score (the heart-stopping "Ave Satani") is a major part of this horror movie. This drama/horror is creative, scary, entertaining, and moving at the same time.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2000
I first saw "The Omen" at the age of 16. The first of a trilogy, I found the idea of religious prophecy in a modern context an interesting twist.
Gregory Peck plays Robert Thorn, an American ambassador. His wife Kathy (Lee Remick) is unaware that the child she gave birth to had died and was replaced by another baby. A foundling. Robert was persuaded by an Italian priest to "adopt" the child, agreeing that Kathy didn't need to know the truth. Robert and Kathy named the child Damien.
Robert's life becomes a nightmare as Damien grows. Another priest arrives, telling Robert that the boy mustn't be allowed to live. It takes a number of murders before Robert is fully convinced of Damien's true heritage.
"The Omen" is an unsettling film. The evil Damien looks so normal, it is hard for Robert to imagine he is really the son of the devil. The way certain characters die are unusual, but not really that gory. (They don't need to be.)
There is also a novel of "The Omen" by David Seltzer. I'm not sure if the film is based on the book or the book based on the film. The book develops the story and characters much further and makes Damien even more sinister.
The two sequels that follow "The Omen" are also worth seeing, but I advise you to ignore "Omen 4" completely.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2000
"The Omen" is one of the scariest movies I've seen by far. A few days after I saw this movie, I couldn't get the music or the ending out of my head. I won't spoil the ending for those who hadn't seen it, but I will tell you that it is an ending you won't forget. The movie stars Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as a couple living in London, England who adopt a 6-year-old boy who is thought to be the son of Satan. He kills a lot of people by using his powers or his evil smile. He has a number called 666, which is the mark of the Anti-Christ. His parents are unaware at first that he {Damien} is evil, but Robert Thorne {Peck} soon sees and hears many deaths to come and then realizes Damien's true identity. Gregory Peck is always a fine actor, and here he gives one of his most thought-provoking and real performances. His character, Robert Thorne, loves his wife, Kathy {Lee Remick} so much and is worried about her. He has many tender moments with her, and also some moments of terror. There are many moments in this movie that I will never forget. The music is the thing that scares me the most. Jerry Goldsmith won a richly deserved Oscar for his score in 1976. Try to find some time to watch a serious horror movie like this one. I garrantee it will stay with you for a while.
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