When his wife Katherine's (Lee Remick) pregnancy ends in a stillbirth in a Rome hospital, U.S. diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) adopts another baby, whose mother died. Damien thrives as a normal child until, at his fifth birthday party, his nanny mysteriously dies; Father Brennan also dies after warning Thorn that he has adopted Lucifer's son. Thorn's fears escalate when a photographer shows him pictures from Damien's party with marks suggesting how the nanny and Brennan would die. Thorn seeks out an exorcist who confirms Damien's identity and tells Thorn that the only solution is to kill his adopted son.
After The Exorcist
sparked a lengthy trend of supernatural thrillers, this 1976 horror film scored a hit with critics and audiences for mixing gothic horror and mystery into its plot about a young boy suspected of being the personification of the anti-Christ. (No doubt it's a favorite of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson.) Directed by Richard Donner (best known for his Superman
and Lethal Weapon
films), The Omen
gained a lot of credibility from the casting of Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as a distinguished American couple living in England, whose young son Damien bears "the mark of the beast." Mysterious deaths and unexplained incidents draw the attention of a photographer (David Warner), whose investigation leads to the young boy--and also to the photographer's shocking decapitation (in a scene that has since been inducted into the horror hall of fame). At a time when graphic gore had yet to dominate the horror genre, this film used its violence discreetly and to great effect, and the mood of dread and potential death is masterfully maintained. It's all a bit hokey, with a lot of biblical portent and sensational fury, but few would deny it's highly entertaining. Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar-winning score works wonders to enhance the movie's creepy atmosphere. --Jeff Shannon
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.