Alice Oscura, Paranormal Investigations Head Writer
Warning: Heavy spoilers ahead
Review: The second film chosen for the Cursed Films list is the 1976 supernatural horror The Omen. Now, I will be the first to admit that my anxiety towards the film mostly stems from the fact that I watched this when I was way too young and impressionable. Plus, at the time I was in Sunday school preparing for my First Communion. Needless to say, the result left me clutching a Rosary in my sleep for weeks afterward, convinced that the Antichrist was going to come after poor little me for my soul.
That aside, The Omen has managed to gain its notoriety due to the fair number of incidents connected to the filming of the movie. As with The Exorcist (1973), some tragic events occurred and some extra creepy coincidences that will leave any non-believer doubting their sanity.
The film was directed by one of my favorite directors the now deceased Richard Donner (Superman, The Goonies), and written by David Seltzer (Punchline). Starring veteran Hollywood actor the late Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird, North by Northwest), Lee Remick (Days of Wine and Roses), David Warner (Titanic, Star Trek franchise), and Harvey Spencer Stephens.
The plot goes like this—US ambassador to Britain Robert Thorn (Peck) is forced to deceive his wife Katherine (Remick) that their newborn son died in childbirth. A priest convinces Thorn to substitute his dead son for a newly orphaned baby boy and they name him Damien. Five years later, Damien (Stephens) is having his fifth birthday party when his nanny hangs herself in front of everyone. After this, an eccentric new nanny, Mrs Baylock (Billie Whitelaw), arrives along with a threatening-looking Rottweiler that acts as some sort of guardian for Damien. Other strange deaths and tragedies follow in the wake, including a particularly outrageous tantrum by Damien when they try to carry him into a church.
Robert Thorn is told by Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton of Doctor Who fame) that he should investigate Damien’s background. Thorn soon discovers that his son was murdered at birth on purpose so that Damien could take his place and that the child is the son of Satan himself, the Antichrist. His protectors now do what they can to ensure that all obstacles are removed from his path leaving behind a trail of bodies. Now you combine a plot like this with the frightening and creepy score by Jerry Goldsmith and bam you’ve got yourself one heck of an unforgettable horror movie.
Before filming began for The Omen, a religious advisor by the name of Robert Munger was hired and he warned them that they would be treading on very thin ice by trying to make a film with this subject matter. Munger warned that the Devil wouldn’t want them to make the picture. From the interview shown with Donner the late director said he listened to Munger and it came in through one ear and out the other. Nothing could have prepared them for the bizarre occurrences that happened during the filming. Executive Producer Mace Neufeld was in London with his family. After they left their hotel to go to have lunch the IRA (Irish Republican Army) set off a bomb which destroyed the restaurant that they had reservations at. Donner was struck by a car. Writer David Seltzer and Peck both had their planes struck by lighting on their way to filming. The production crew narrowly escaped death when a flight that they had chartered on its way to collect them ended up hitting a flock of birds. This sent the plane skidding off the runway and it plowed straight into a station wagon on the highway containing the wife and children of the pilot flying the doomed aircraft.
And weird stuff doesn’t end here folks. During the scene where actress Lee Remick was driving through the Windsor Safari Park she was having difficulty with the gear shift which caused the car to stall in the baboon area at the park. The baboons went wild and began jumping unto the vehicle. The scene that remains in the film to this day was Remick’s genuine fearful reaction to the incident. At the same park later on in the day, after filming this sequence, one of the guards was attacked and killed by lions when he forgot to close the guard booth door.
However, the most graphic and hauntingly disturbing incident that is the most talked about to this day was the car accident that involved special effects expert John Richardson and his fiancé Liz Moore. This didn’t happen during the shoot but occurred when the film was in the post-production stage. It happened when Richardson was in Holland for the production of A Bridge Too Far (1977). Richardson was in a head-on collision that bizarrely decapitated his fiancé mirroring a scene depicted in The Omen with actor David Warner’s character. The special effects expert claimed that when he came to his senses, he saw a street sign that read Ommen 66.6km.
Of course, once the studios got wind of all of these incidents, they took the opportunity to use them as a giant marketing plug for the film. The result was a highly successful film that scared a lot of people into attending church again and pulling Fox Studios out of the red.
In my humble opinion, there’s a coincidence and then there’s opening a proverbial can of worms by messing with something that you don’t understand. By giving it power and acknowledging its existence in the real world. A black magician by the name of E.A. Koetting said in the episode that a curse can only exist if it is given power and pushed into existence or pronounced into existence, whether it be by another black magician or a practitioner of witchcraft. Another ongoing theory is that Satanists were not pleased by the way that their religion was portrayed on film, so they were the ones that had something to do with the evil aura of so many bad things happening during and after the filming.
The Omen is not going to be on my re-watch list anytime soon. Knowing all of this now makes me feel even more uncomfortable about the film. I’ve got to admit that this episode has me on the fence about the existence of something sinister behind all the creepy events related to the film. It’s a great choice for the Cursed Films list and it’s guaranteed to freak you out…just a tad.
Alice’s Score: 9 out of 10
So are you a fan of The Omen? Do you believe the film was cursed? And you can check out more creepy content below:
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More