The Omen (1976)

JUNE 6, 2007

I SWEAR TO GOD I had no real awareness of the date last night when I decided to watch The Omen. My only reason was it had been a while, and my Tivo had gotten Omen II (which I have never seen) a few days before and I wanted to refresh my memory before I watched it. My wife was like "ooh, 666" and I was like "What the fuck are you rambling about, woman?" and she reminded me of the date. Even weirder, that means it was exactly one year since I saw the remake. THE DEVIL LIVES IN ME!!!! Or, my remote.

I didn't hate the remake. It had been so long since I had seen the original at that point, that it was sort of like watching a new movie. The acting was solid (even Julia Stiles was less slapworthy than usual), and it had John Morghen (that's Giovanni Lombardo Radice to you) in a small role. Nothing wrong with that. Like all remakes, you can always say "It's not as bad as the Psycho remake!", if nothing else.

Watching the original again, it becomes clear that the two films are actually a fascinating example as to just how much direction, casting, etc can totally change a film. Unlike Gus Van Sant's shot for shot, horribly miscast monstrosity, the Omen films differ wildly at times while not really changing a single word, but both work (though I think the remake works better if you hadn't seen the original) in their own way. Both films used the same script (the remake added some nonsense about 9/11 and Katrina but that's about it), so the 'differences' lie totally in how Richard Donner and John Moore staged their respective scenes and cast their actors. Whereas in the original, Damien was a cute little kid who appeared totally innocent throughout the film, the remake had some creepy looking bastard who looked evil right from the start, thus totally changing the dynamic of his scenes. And, I am sure I'll get flamed for this (by... someone, I guess), Moore's direction of the dog attack in the graveyard was superior to Donner's. Moore's scene actually got a scare out of me, Donner's did not. There are other subtle and minor little things throughout the film that, again, on paper are probably identical, but the execution was different, resulting in an entirely different perspective on how the film plays out. Pretty interesting, I definitely recommend watching the two films back to back if you are in film school and in that "No one can ruin my script!" phase.

And dammit, we need more David Warner in films!!!

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. The Omen is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. I think the Gregory Peck and Lee Remick do an excellent and convincing job (though I believe that Peck once said that he only did this movie for the paycheck). I agree that the children in both of these movies play the role of Damien in very different ways. I think I preferred Harvey Stephen's Damien because of the gradual loss of innocence that he conveyed, beginning with helplessness and ending with acceptance of such a heritage. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, though convincingly scary, just did not seem likable to me. I am amazed by Mia Farrow's performance and I think that casting her was the best decision that could have been made for that remake. She brings a certain respectability and history to the film with her previous work in Rosemary's Baby. But, again, I agree with your opinions about the films. To prove that I am a fan though, I do have all FOUR of the Omen movies in a boxed set. Even the 3rd sequel that begins with the seed (WTF!) of the already deceased Damien. And I still make all of my friends watch it...


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