Now we all know that the original Omen movie is one of the best and creepiest horror films of the 70s. Even the remake that came out a few years ago had an edge to it. It was a film that made the association of 666 with the devil, made little innocent, slightly odd looking kids an iconic horror cliché (flairs and all) and every kid called Damien will have the mickey taken out of them at school. So why then are the second and third films in the series so blooming dull?
Whether it’s Jonathan Scott-Taylor’s Damien as a wimpy teen or Sam Neill’s Damien as a middle manager, the anti-Christ of these two films is so far removed from being an un-nerving child, evolving into a nerdy teen and then a dull businessman. If the devil was really going to take over the world I would think that he would do it in a more interesting or fun way. Corporate take-overs by Thorn Enterprises and eventually becoming an ambassador really is such a middle class English way of doing things: ‘Oh would you mind awfully if I take over the world..I am the devil and all, you know’. It’s so incessantly boring and even the few ‘killins’ that happen are not that exciting, with the exception of a reporter being attacked by birds, somebody being severed by a rogue escalator or a would-be assassin being wrapped up in melted plastic. By today’s standards the ‘horrific’ effects are all a bit laughable.
It’s not just the ineffectual nature of the devil to take over the world in the most pedestrian of ways. Any and all attempts to get rid of him are also comparably limp wristed and stupid. Whether it’s the dizzy old aunt Marion and her profits of doom or the six priests (led by Father DeCarlo) and their Wile E. Coyote style set-ups, the attempts on Damien’s life are really more laughable than horrorific such as the laugh out loud attempt by one priest to ‘trap’ Damien when he is fox hunting and deservedly gets ripped apart by a pack of dogs for such a stupid idea.
So sitting for nearly four hours to see the outcome between heaven and hell played out in all its late 70s and early 80s glory, what do we get at the end? Well, a final conflict set in a ruins of Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire (incidentally, the same one that was used in the Iron Maiden track ‘Can I play with Madness’) that has the anti-Christ being stabbed in the shoulder by a middle-aged woman and then flaying about for a while as a big strobe back-light has a silhouette of an angel / Jesus appearing to a cheap-sounding orchestral piece (shame on you, Jerry Goldsmith); not really the apocalypse I was hoping for.
ExtrasIf the films seem a disappointment then the extras back up this really limp-wristed re-release. Although the sound and picture of both movies have been re-done for Blu-ray, neither are anything spectacually special with the only real significance in quality being tackled by the up-scaling. The film looks bland and a bit dull, as it did in the 70s, full of grey and cold looking Chicago cities or rainy dour parks in London. Added to all this is the significant lack of extras which can be counted on one hand.
The idea of Blu-ray was not only to increase the quality of a print but to also pack a disc with never-before-seen extras, and again the studio has gone the lazy route and just pasted in the extras from the DVD (if you can call a trailer or interactive menu ‘extras’). It’s not just the laziness of the extras themselves that are the problem, the way they are shown is also quite lapsed, with all the bits and pieces (what there is of them) being presented in a bloomin’ great big black cross that not only looks like the worst piece of clip-art you have seen, but is also a right pain to navigate through, being both slow and clumsy.
Overall, the ball has well and truly been dropped with these releases and, considering these are such cult horror films, I feel it is a bit insulting to longtime fans of the movies that the new high-def versions have been treated so badly. Admittedly, the print the movies have been taken from are nearly thirty years old, but even a little time, effort or design could have been given to these movies.