Omen, The

Omen, The
   Horror film about the birth of the ANTICHRIST. The film, scripted by David Seltzer and directed by Richard Donner, features the birth of the son of SATAN to fulfill biblical prophecies of Armageddon. The film stars Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as the unwitting adoptive parents of the Antichrist, whom they name Damien (Harvey Stephens). Peck and Remick are Robert (Jeremy in the novel) and Katharine Thorn, a prosperous American couple living in Italy, where Robert is the U.S. ambassador. They want to start a family. Tragedy strikes when Katharine gives birth in a hospital, and Robert is informed that the child was stillborn. Before she realizes what has happened, Robert is approached by a priest and offered a newborn child whose mother has just died in childbirth. Desperate to save his wife a crisis, Robert takes the child and presents it to Katharine as their own son.
   The family relocates to London. As the child grows, strange things happen in the household, including the apparent suicide of the nanny and a bizarre impaling of a priest who knows the real secret, that Damien is the son of the DEVIL, the Antichrist.
   Robert realizes the awful truth with the help of a photographer, Keith Jennings (David Warner). He reveals it to Katharine. They return to the hospital and learn from the priest the location of the grave of Damien’s real mother. The priest dies. The couple find the grave and disinter the woman. They are horrified to find the skeleton of a jackal where the woman should be buried and that of a newborn whose skull has been smashed. The murdered child is the real son of the Thorns. The priest deceived them in order to pass Damien on to them.
   Deaths of people involved with Damien continue. Katharine dies when she is thrown over a railing by their new nanny, Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw). Robert and Jennings travel to Tel Megiddo, Israel, and find an archaeologist, Carl Bugenhagen, who knows how to kill the Antichrist, with seven special daggers. Robert acquires the daggers but is emotionally unable to kill the child. Jennings tries to take over the job but is killed himself in a gruesome accident of decapitation by a pane of glass atop a runaway truck.
   Robert returns to London, where the nanny’s demonic Rottweiler attacks him. He removes the last bit of doubt about the true identity of his adopted son when he snips away some of Damien’s hair and discovers 666, the “Mark of the Beast,” on his scalp (see SIX-SIX-SIX). Robert fights the nanny and manages to stab her to death. Robert seizes Damien and takes him to a church, intending to lay him on the altar and stab him to death in a sacrificial manner. He pulls out a dagger and then hesitates. He is shot by police who pursued him and Damien into the church.
   The film ends with the double funeral of Robert and Katharine. Damien, the Antichrist, has triumphed and is shown holding the hand of the president of the United States.
   Selzter wrote a novelization of the film, which became a best-seller.
   The Omen was remade in 2006 in a film directed by John Moore and starring Liev Schrieber as Robert Thorn, Julia Stiles as Katharine, and Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Damien. Seltzer declined to write the screenplay. A sequel to the original film, The Omen II, was released in 1978. Directed by Don Taylor, it stars William Holden and Lee Grant as Richard and Ann Thorn, Damien’s aunt and uncle, and Jonathan Scott-Taylor as Damien. Damien, living with his wealthy relatives in Chicago, is now 13 and knows his true identity. He is enrolled in a military academy along with Mark, Richard’s son by his first marriage. Damien is not well liked.
   An industrialist, Richard invests in Third World countries. Unbeknownst to him, secret allies of Damien help him buy up land as part of the fulfillment of the Antichrist’s 10 kingdoms on Earth. People who refuse to sell to Thorn Industries are murdered.
   Meanwhile, a journalist, Joan Hart, investigates the strange earlier death of Carl Bugenhagen, who knew Damien’s secret. She tries to warn Richard but is neutralized when a satanic crow pecks out her eyes. Others who learn Damien’s secret also are dealt with in grisly ways. Damien even kills his stepbrother, Mark. Richard tries in vain to stop Damien, but he is stabbed to death by Anne, who reveals herself as the Whore of Babylon. She herself is killed when Damien causes a boiler to explode and she bursts into flames. Damien is left once again triumphant, this time heir to a fortune that will enable him to pursue his plans freely.
   Omen III: The Final Conflict was released in 1981. Directed by Graham Baker, the film stars Sam Neill as the now-adult Damien Thorn; Lisa Harrow as the journalist Kate Reynolds, and Rossano Brazzi as the priest Father DeCarlo, who has the divine assignment to kill the Antichrist. Damien is a charismatic figure with slavish followers, the U.S. ambassador to England, and a favorite to run for president of the United States. He is romantically involved with Reynolds.
   An unusual alignment of stars in the sky creates a new Star of Bethlehem and tells Damien that the Second Coming of Christ is at hand. He secretly orders the murders of all male infants in England. Those who try to thwart the plan die. Father DeCarlo, who has the Seven Daggers of Megiddo, hunts for Damien with a band of priests. All but DeCarlo are killed.
   DeCarlo knows that Christ will reappear as an adult, not as an infant, but he remains intent on slaying Damien. Tragically, Damien uses Reynolds’ teenage son as a shield, and DeCarlo kills him instead. But Reynolds sneaks up behind and fatally stabs Damien in the back. He calls out for Christ to appear, and he does, telling Damien, “You have won nothing.”

Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. . 2009.

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