Friday, October 16, 2009

Bald Mountain Night 16: the Omen

Each day in October, intrepid blogger Alex Boivin will watch a horror movie. These movies are all new to him and are part of his month-long effort to fill in his gaps in the horror canon. If he doesn't die from fright, you just might get to read about about his exploits in cinema during the Halloween season.

More scary children, please! After a somewhat underwhelming victory over the Exorcist, I now take on another pillar of the satanic child vs. the Catholic Church subgenre with Richard Donner's 1976 film the Omen. This is another one of those films that everyone knows about but how many have actually seen it? You can now add me to that distinguished list and I must say that after the minor disappointment from yesterday's foray I came out of this one pleasantly surprised.

Omen pits Gregory "don't call me Atticus" Peck against the forces of Satan. When diplomat Peck's wife gives birth to a stillborn child, a not-at-all suspiciously malevolent priest convinces him to make an off-the-record switcheroo with a child born at the exact same time (6:00 AM on June 6th) whose own mother died in childbirth. The secret adoptee grows to the age of five as a healthy young lad named Damien; everything is going swell, right? Well the swell times are when things go wrong in movies like this one and before you know it, Damien's nanny commits very public suicide at his birthday party. This sets in motion Peck's realization that his adopted son may not be of this world (spoiler: Antichrist!) and before you know it he's being chased by hellhounds while trying to find a way kill Damien before causes Armageddon.

Omen has the most likely unique distinction of being a movie that completely killed a name. Has any baby boy been named Damien since 1976? In that regard, big kudos! Omen really got me right in my weak spot for gonzo Catholic plots to save the world from Hell and has the added benefit of featuring one of my favorite "that guy" actors, David Warner of Tron, Time Bandits, and Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze fame, in a supporting role. Gregory Peck is fairly baller as the hero and the kid who plays Damien totally gets me on the side of murdering him in cold blood in a church from his first appearance on screen.

This movie is also notable for suggesting that Jimmy Carter may be partially to blame for bringing about the End of Days.

All-in-all, I'm an Omen fan. If you only see one movie this season about a child under the influence of Hell, see the Omen.

And now: Priest.

Final verdict: 66.6 Congos