Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2010 Geek Fright Fest: The Omen Sequels

Damien: Omen II (1978)
Rated R (for violence)

Directed by Don Taylor

William Holden
Lee Grant
Jonathan Scott-Taylor
Sylvia Sidney

Damien: Omen II is second film in the Omen series. Producers adjusted the timeline for this film to allow Damien to have grown into a teenager, despite the movie being released only two years after its predecessor.

Robert Thorn's brother, Richard (William Holden), and Richard's second wife, Ann (Lee Grant), have taken over guardianship of Damien Thorn (Jonathan Scott-Taylor). Damien is now 12 years old and enrolled in a prestigious military school with his cousin, Richard's son from his previous marriage, Mark. Mark and Damien get along well, but not every one in the family is so fond of Damian. Richard's Aunt Marion (Sylvia Sidney) despises the boy and threatens to cut Richard out of the will if he doesn't separate him from Mark. At his school, Damien finds his new protector, Sgt. Neff (the great Lance Henriksen), who informs the boy of his true identity. Damien is initially distressed about his demonic lineage and destiny, but eventually he comes to accept it, actively harming and killing people, both to protect his secret and to further his ambitions.

This film, while decent, doesn't really live up to the original's standards. Some of the death scenes are unintentionally comical, but Jerry Goldsmith's score continues to make this film somewhat frightening. Scott-Taylor is an effective older Damien and resembles original Damien, Harvey Stephens, closely enough to make the film's timeline believable, despite the short span between the two films' release dates. It's an adequate sequel, and far better than some other sequels I've seen.

Fright Rating: 1 1/2 gasps out of a possible 5

Some of the deaths are gory, but they are less frightening than the ones in the original.

Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
Rated R (for violence)

Directed by Graham Baker

Sam Neill
Lisa Harrow
Rossano Brazzi
Barnaby Holm

The third film in the Omen series, it follows Damien Thorn (Sam Neill) as he rises in politics, hoping to become the President of the United States. Producers again adjusted the series's timeline to allow Damien to reach adulthood.

Damien is the American ambassador to England (the position his father held in the first film), the head of lucrative Thorn Industries, and a rising star in American politics. He has fully embraced his diabolical heritage and is actively trying to stop the second coming of Christ, the only thing that can interfere in his plans. In the meantime, he has become romantically involved with a British journalist, Kate Reynolds (Lisa Harrow) and turns her adolescent son, Peter (Barnaby Holm), into bhis slavish disciple. Damien does not go unopposed, however. A group of Jesuit priests, including Father DeCarlo (Rossano Brazzi), are planning to kill him with the seven daggers of Megiddo (mentioned in the first film as the only earthly weapon that can kill the Anti-Christ).

Reviews were mostly negative for this film, but it is my personal favorite of the sequels. Made in 1981, the deaths are gorier than the first film, as audiences were more accepting of graphic violence. The slaughter of England's first born males (reminiscent of the biblical story of Moses) is particularly disturbing. I find it effectively scary, as Damien has hundreds of followers that act on his command, rather than one specific protector. It seems realistic, as Damien works within the political world, using connections and favors to realize his goals, as many real-world politicians do. The ending is a little hokey, but the overall story is a fitting end to the saga of Damien Thorn.

Neill makes this flick as good as it is. This was his first Hollywood film, and he is excellent as the demonic and charismatic adult Damien. It's also a treat for me to see Brazzi - he also played a priest in one of my childhood favorites, Ladyhawke.

Fright Rating: 2 gasps out of a possible 5

This is the goriest of the Omen films, and the scariest, next to the original. Despite being panned by most critics, I think it's worth the watch.

Omen IV: The Awakening (1991)
Not Rated

Directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard and Jorge Montesi

Faye Grant
Asia Vieira

Omen IV is the third sequel in the Omen series and the only one filmed for television. Gene and Karen York (Faye Grant), both lawyers, adopt a female baby after discovering they can't have children. They call the girl Delia (Asia Vieira) and she grows into a spoiled and precocious child. Bad things start happening to the people around the Yorks, and Karen discovers that Delia is actually the daughter of Damien Thorn. Like Katherine Thorn, Karen is pregnant and fears for her baby.

This film is the worst of the sequels, and really only worth watching for curiosity's sake (or, if like me, you are sick and twisted enough to like watching bad horror flicks). It was plauged by problems: the first director (Othenin-Girard) quit in the middle of filming and the plot was poorly developed. To work around the problem of the Anti-Christ being male, Karen's doctor explains that Karen's baby is actually the Anti-Christ and Delia's twin, who she absorbed in the womb. The embryo was placed into Karen so he could be born. This plot device is ridiculous, to say the least and makes the whole film laughable.

Despite the film's suckage, Vieria's performance is the one bright spot. You really believe she is evil and she is remarkably scary for being a little girl.

Fright Rating: 1 gasp out of a possible five

This flick was made for TV, so it's not as gruesome as the others, but I still wouldn't let little kids watch it, as it has some disturbing images.

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