RETRO SPOOKS

THE OMEN (1976)

CAST: GREGORY PECK, LEE REMICK, HARVEY SPENCER STEPHENS, BILLIE WHITELAW, DAVID WARNER, PATRICK TROUGHTON, HOLLY PALANCE.

DIRECTION : RICHARD DONNER.

I had originally written this brief snippet on the classic film on the same day as CARRIE, back in 2015, as both were viewed by me back to back. So take this one as a companion piece to my previous article on the Brian De Palma feature . The fact that both of the titles released in 1976 ends up becoming a binding thread.

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For the price of being privy to popular fiction’s most unnerving 6 year old’s Satanic designs, THE OMEN ( yes, my father, like so many parents, kept referring to it as a real ‘horror’ film to get acquainted with ) redefined the genre’s stipulated chills. Over time, its visuals of psychologically disturbing supernatural tropes have been diluted and completely denuded of its novelty ; excessive inspiration and a 2006 remake starring LIEV SCHREIBER, JULIA STILES and the great MIA FARROW now give it a dated feel ala The Exorcist.

However, once you set your eyes on it, images of graphic decapitation, suicide, getting impaled on a tempestuous day, a terrorising nanny’s glower and a child’s cycling romps will never be seen in the same way. Gregory Peck’s one – note deadpan delivery apart, THE OMEN cleverly navigates its way through a bluesy, anticipatory haze of Anti-Christ doomsday theories where the concept of faith is questioned and everyone’s worst nightmares (of literally raising a devil at home) come true. It goes for a subdued tone instead of campy gore and bears a photographic sophistication all throughout.

Also whoever cast the child actor essential to THE OMEN’S creepy vibe needs to be lauded. That climactic turn of the head by him remains a chilling testament to the young talent’s cross generational appeal.

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