Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Month of Horror Day 30: The Omen (1976)

Basement contributor Matt Bellamy has taken it upon himself to watch and review at least one horror movie a day for the month of October . . . because he's awesome that way! Tonight, Bellamy revisits the charming story of a man trying to kill his son. Well, the kid is the devil, so he has it coming! 

Gregory Peck had been retired from acting for about six years when, in 1975, his son committed suicide thus shaking the Hollywood legend to his core, and seeking work once more to take his mind off of such a tragedy. What better project to jump into than a horror movie about a father trying to kill his son, who also happens to be the son of Satan? It must not have been an easy shoot for the man, especially given the subject matter but being the professional he was, turned in another great performance. Apparently he signed on for a relatively small amount of money but requested a take of the profits of its box office returns; a gamble that doesn't always pay off. Mr. Peck must have known that audiences were craving scares during that time because it went on to become not only the highest grossing movie of his career, but one of the most successful horror releases of all time. One of the greatest actors ever, and one of the smartest, too! Would you expect anything less of Atticus Finch?

'The Omen' is a classic, that's the best way to describe it. From the professional direction of Richard Donner, the top to bottom quality acting across the board, and quite possibly the strongest asset of all, the absolutely tremendous and iconic score composed by Jerry Goldsmith. This was during a time where horror movies were made for adults, by adults and it was a genre taken very seriously. I miss the days like this where real talent got behind projects like these and it wasn't a joke--horror was the real deal. The story is that Gregory Peck's character is the American ambassador to Great Britain and at the beginning of the movie his infant son dies shortly after birth but the hospital sets him up with another mysterious baby which he agrees to discreetly adopt without telling anyone else, not even his wife, who is unaware of the "switcheroo". Probably wasn't the best of ideas as it turns out this other child is the son of the devil, darn! Damien, by the age of 5, is an evil little bastard who, along with his insane nanny, begin to literally raise hell.

Really a great movie, if you have managed to miss it then I'd definitely recommend checking it out, it's one of those classics that many other horror films since have been influenced by in a number of ways. It also contains a now legendary death scene as David Warner's character is brutally decapitated by a flying sheet of glass--I bet the reaction in theatres from audiences back then must have been tremendous! Movies like this one simply aren't made anymore these days, I partially blame "slasher flicks" of the 80's for cheapening the genre however I do enjoy those movies, too! I think we are on the verge of horror getting serious again though and that is an exciting thought so fingers crossed we continue heading in that direction, or at the very least, can enjoy the best of both worlds. Trash and prestige! Wouldn't that be nice?

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