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A staid U.S. ambassador (Gregory Peck) switches his wife's (Lee Remick) baby with an orphaned boy when their child is stillborn. As the boy grows, disaster surrounds him, beginning with the suicide of his nanny, and as the bodies pile up, his horrified father begins to suspect the boy is evil incarnate and must be destroyed.
For more about The Omen and the The Omen Blu-ray release, see the The Omen Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 1, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Richard Donner
Writer: David Seltzer
Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw, Harvey Stephens, Patrick Troughton
» See full cast & crew
The Omen Blu-ray Review
'The Omen' is another sign that Fox knows how to put together a first-rate Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 1, 2008
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666. -- Revelation 13:18
Movie fans have become accustomed to the physical representation of terror resembling a hulking, merciless, unrelenting beast of a man, a Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees type that stalks his victims with heavy footsteps, a menacing demeanor, a large bladed weapon, and some sort of supernatural invulnerability. 1976's The Omen, however, creates a villain just as dastardly, invulnerable, and horrific as any masked madman, but instills these terrifying attributes not in a beastly killing machine, a wise-cracking villain, or even a criminal mastermind, but inside the body of a boy. Young, adorable, carefree Damien Thorn (Harvey Stephens), with nothing more than a stare, a smile, an innocent countenance, becomes one of cinema's more enduring powerhouses of evil, a character both at once charming and repulsive, the very definition of innocence, yet with a future of Biblical importance, a destiny that nothing -- or nobody -- can alter. He is pure evil, the antichrist, the final representation of terror, an abomination so tremendous that even the greatest of the horror icons shiver in his presence.
Robert Thron (Gregory Peck, How the West Was Won) learns one night of the death of his newborn child, a fact still unbeknownst to his wife Katherine (Lee Remick). Thorn reluctantly agrees to adopt a child and pass it off as his own, leaving Katherine unaware of the true circumstances of the birth. As the years go by, Thorn is appointed as ambassador to Great Britain and Damien grows into a handsome young boy. When the Thorn family nanny inexplicably hangs herself during Damien's birthday party, the family soon meets and hires a mysterious nanny by the name of Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw). It soon becomes apparent that Damien and Mrs. Baylock are not who they seem. As Robert begins to piece together the mysteries surrounding the very people living in his house and whom he calls family, he and a photographer companion by the name of Jennings (David Warner) reveal Damien's true identity and must choose to accept destiny or do all they can to stop him before the beginning of his reign of terror on Earth.
Among its many strengths, perhaps it is through its fine ensemble cast that The Omen still invokes in its viewers the sheer terror that its story gradually builds some 32 years after its initial theatrical release. The film's unassuming demons, innocent family members, and terrified supporting characters are all slowly but surely introduced, developed, and motivated. The clues are pieced together, first at a leisurely pace, but once the terror begins to take shape, it builds exponentially through the film's harrowing, depressing climax. Young Harvey Stephens captures the essence of pure evil with shocking ease through a physical countenance that has become the standard for the face of demonic evil at its most innocent. The young actor never falters in conveying a broad range of emotion, from innocent child to putting on a devilishly deceiving smile that sums up the entire movie, and the history of evil itself, perfectly. Billie Whitelaw's portrayal of Mrs. Baylock, Damien's hell-sent guardian, offers a performance that will chill audiences to the bone. She is the embodiment of evil and hate, the world's most practiced liar and someone willing to cut anyone down that dares challenge her master's will. Gregory Peck provides one of the finer performances of his illustrious career as Ambassador Robert Thorn, the loving father and husband who adopts Damien in secret, shielding his wife form the pain of the knowledge that her child died at birth, and unwittingly unleashing upon his family, and the world at large, the most heinous evil mankind has ever, or will ever, know. His character's understanding and acceptance of the truth as it regards the past, present, and future of his son, the lengths he goes to to unearth the truth, and his persistence on seeing the task of preventing Damien's reign through to the bitter end make him one of cinema's most unique and memorable characters. He is a man with an enormous weight on his shoulders, a man whose life crumbles rapidly before his eyes, a man whose love and compassion for life and family costs him everything. The film also features an excellent supporting cast, including standout performances from Lee Remick and David Warner.
For as good as the efforts in front of the camera are, those working on the other side of the lens lend to The Omen an effort that, even today, remains hard to top in the psychological horror genre. The film's excellent direction and photography, courtesy of director Richard Donner (Superman) and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor (Star Wars), engages the viewer and personalizes the film, allowing the audience to revel in the impending terror of the film. The film often appears troubled, unsettled, and somewhat cockeyed while making great use of shadows, all of which lend to the film a disturbing, foreboding feel that slowly pulls audiences to the edges of their seats, rather than simply causing them to jump straight out of them. Characters are often seen in the extreme foreground, off to a side of the screen, with other characters framed more to the center or opposite side, in the background, out of focus, placing complete emphasis on one individual in the frame. In a few select shots, the camera will zoom closely in on a character's eyes, letting a simple expression of paralyzing fear or terrifying evil dominate the entire frame, framing the terror in such a way to make it all the more frightening, offering a simple yet raw manifestation of emotion, or lack thereof, rather than the camera lingering on the action or violence itself. The Omen also features an Academy Award-winning score by Jerry Goldsmith (L.A. Confidential), his score appropriately demonic and harrowing, chilling and forceful, the perfect accompaniment to the film's tone, emotion, and conflict, both inner and outer.
The Omen Blu-ray, Video Quality
20th Century Fox presents The Omen on Blu-ray with a 1080p high definition, 2.35:1-framed transfer. Potential viewers need be aware that The Omen does not represent the pinnacle of high definition eye candy. The film offers a restrained, slightly bleak, somewhat flat, and grainy picture. Nevertheless, the film has never looked better; the grain structure is used to fine effect, particularly in the film's darker corners, and while the print showcases the occasional blemish, it has been cleaned up and offers audiences an image that represents the best The Omen has ever looked on home video. Black levels aren't extraordinarily deep or inky here, only moderately so, rather offering a hint of gray in some scenes. Detail is moderately good, be it the interior of the Thorn home, clothing, or various exterior settings, such as the zoo or Damien's birthday party near the beginning of the film. Look at a scene in chapter 22 as Mr. Thorn speaks with Mrs. Baylock in the kitchen. The dishes seen throughout, the wallpaper, and various knickknacks bring the scene alive, all benefitting from the improved resolution of the Blu-ray transfer. Facial detail is strong, and flesh tones never veer too far away from natural. Colors are strong; a yellow taxi seen in chapter 23, for example, is bright and clean but not harsh or overblown. The Omen is a film that offers a fine example of how a properly mastered Blu-ray can breathe new life into an old classic, and fans will be most pleased with the results.
The Omen Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Omen haunts Blu-ray with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, and the disc also retains the film's original monaural mix. The lossless rendition of the score and all of the film's dialogue and effects provide solid presence, adequate in both volume and fidelity, though it remains focused primarily across the front with only the occasional rear channel presence. Sound effects are loud and somewhat undefined, such as the sound of shattering glass as the Thorn's first nanny hangs herself and crashes through a window. Though the lack of surround activity is palpable, the back channels come alive in support of the primaries on several occasions. The first time they work with any sort of vitality is during the film's zoo scene in chapter 13 as the animals cause quite the ruckus in reaction to Damien's visit. The soundtrack does provide some punch in the form of lows in a few scenes, an example being the smashing of a headstone in chapter 26. Dialogue is rendered adequately throughout. The Omen's audio quality, much like that of its video, is not of modern-day reference quality, but it does benefit a great deal from its reproduction on Blu-ray.
The Omen Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Omen comes to Blu-ray with an impressive array of bonus materials, the package highlighted by the inclusion of three audio commentary tracks. Track number one features director Richard Donner and editor Stuart Baird. These participants have the notable ability to inform while entertaining their listeners. The discussion ranges from the film's budget, the length of the shoot, and the participation of most of the primary cast and crew members. Perhaps the highlight of the track comes in chapter 13 as Donner and Baird gleefully recount the experience of shooting the film's famed zoo sequence. Track number two again features Donner, this time accompanied by Brian Helgeland, screenwriter of Man on Fire and director of Payback. Again, this is a lighthearted track that flows well and offers plenty of information fans will enjoy a great deal. Track three features film historians Lem Dobbs, Nick Redman, and Jeff Bond. The best track on the disc, it offers a more serious, on-message tone, and is significantly more dry than the Donner tracks. As far as tracks that true fans of cinema will enjoy, this is it. There are some interesting discussions on here, an example being how a composer, for example, becomes attached to a studio and scores many of that studio's films, with an obvious emphasis on Jerry Goldsmith. The Omen also features an isolated score that removes all but the film's music from the soundtrack, and is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.
Richard Donner on 'The Omen' (1080p, 14:36) features the director reminiscing about how he came to work on the film, the excellent script, his work with various cast and crew members, his disappointment with some of the initial work (including his firing of the film's original editor), the marketing of the film, and more. 'The Omen' Revelations -- BonusView with Trivia Track is a feature-length supplement that provides both a basic text-based trivia track as well as Profile 1.1 picture-in-picture video segments. The trivia and the picture-in-picture window sometimes appear on-screen simultaneously. Both offer plenty of pertinent and trivial information, a solid array of knowledge that every fan of The Omen will enjoy. Those without a profile 1.1 player may choose to play only the trivia track, and view the additional video-based material separate from the movie. Introduction by Director Richard Donner from 2006 (480p, 1:55) is a brief feature that showcases director Richard Donner offering a few personal insights, including how the film jump-started his career. Next is a deleted scene entitled Dog Attack (480p, 1:26), and is available with optional commentary by Richard Donner and Brian Helgeland.
666: 'The Omen' Revealed (480p, 46:15) is an extensive making-of feature that runs the spectrum of the production, beginning with the theological underpinnings of the story and moving into the writing of the script, the assemblage of the cast and crew, the filming of some of the movie's most crucial scenes, the creation and implementation of the film's Academy-Award winning score, and more. Screenwriter's Notebook (480p, 14:51) is an interview piece with David Seltzer, who discusses how his script broke from the genres he generally worked in, the challenges of working in the horror genre, the differing titles attached to the film, and his work on the novelization of the film, among other things. Next up is An Appreciation: Wes Craven on 'The Omen' (480p, 20:17). Here, the famed horror director recounts his thoughts on various aspects of the picture. 'The Omen' Legacy (480p, 1:41:38) is a comprehensive overview of the entire Omen saga, recounting the film's Biblical influences, the "curses" that plagued the sets, and almost anything else fans of the entire series could imagine. Curse or Coincidence (480p, 6:19) is an all-too-brief look back on the various mishaps that plagued the shoot and the cast and crew, and the belief that forces more powerful than man were at work, attempting to halt the filmmaking process. Jerry Goldsmith on 'The Omen' Score (480p, 17:41) features the acclaimed composer discussing various pieces of music heard throughout the film. Concluding this extensive selection of bonus materials is a still gallery and the film's theatrical trailer (480p, 2:19).
The Omen Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Omen is a fine representation of true cinematic horror, the embodiment of psychological fear and terror, and its villain truly evil incarnate as it assumes an angelic, unassuming, innocent countenance. Expertly directed, acted, and scored, the film strikes all the right chords and remains one of the defining horror films of the past several decades. Spawning several sequels and an atrocious remake, the film stands head and shoulders above its related counterparts and continues to frighten audiences more than 30 years after the film's debut. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release of this horror classic is currently the film's definitive home video release. Offering a picture quality that remains true to the source, a fine lossless soundtrack that is accompanied by the original monaural track, and an extensive selection of bonus materials, The Omen is a disc that deserves a spot in every serious Blu-ray collection. Highly recommended.
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The Omen Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Amazon Blu-ray Deals of the Week: The Omen and Wrong Turn Collect... - October 21, 2012
Amazon's Blu-ray Deals of the Week affect Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's The Omen Collection as well as the Wrong Turn Collection. Through this week, the two bundles are 70% and 50% off their respective SRPs. These deals expire at 12 AM PST/3 AM EST ...
• Amazon Blu-ray Deal of the Week: The Omen Collection (Expired) - October 9, 2011
Amazon's Blu-ray Deal of Week has The Omen Collection marked down to $19.99. The set, which includes The Omen, Damien: Omen II, Omen III: The Final Conflict and Omen (666) has been discounted 67% off the $59.99 SRP. The deal ends on October 15th.
• Fox Announces The Omen Collection for Blu-ray - June 30, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'The Omen Collection' to Blu-ray on September 9th. The four disc set will feature the three original Omen films ('The Omen' (1976), 'Damien: Omen II', and 'Omen III: Final Conflict') as well as the 2006 ...
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