It was Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist that proved moviegoers were itching to have the wits scared out of them by Old Scratch hisself — the original bogeyman who has pervaded our collective fear for all of time. And Hollywood didn’t have to look any further than The Bible itself for truly horrific inspiration, as the pages of Revelation are chock full of garish descriptions of Earth’s end times, about the rise of the Anti-Christ and all the really nasty stuff he’s gonna do. So, what if the apocalyptic prophecies are true? What if Satan’s child WILL rise to rule the world? And what if your rosy-cheeked, newborn son WERE the Anti-Christ? That’s exactly what The Omen pondered and would laboriously explore through THREE sequels — Damien: Omen II, Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981, 108 minutes) and Omen IV: The Awakening.
The movie: It’s real hard to kill the Anti-Christ, as he’s survived two flicks so far, and his chances look great this time around also. Free from the shackles of his youth, Damien (Sam Neill) rises to helm his family’s company, and become a darling of the world stage. He’s young, charismatic, but most of all ambitious. Oh, and evil, don’t forget that. The J-Man is due back on Earth at any minute, so say the prophecies of The Bible, and the Anti-Christ seems to agree. He twists the arm of his buddy the president to appoint him to a big post in Great Britain, where he believes a young Christ child will once again come into the world, and Damien wants to be there to hassle him right away. Those seven Ginsu knives from the first Omen are somehow rediscovered — a priest got them on eBay, or something — and they make their way back to a goon squad of Catholic priests who plot to get medieval on Satan’s backside. The knives are said to be the only weapons able to destroy the Anti-Christ, but the zealot in the first movie told Gregory Peck he had to use ALL SEVEN — details schmetails. The priests turn out to be the WORST assassins ever as they die one by one, giving up their Ginsus. When he isn’t thwarting attempts on his life, Damien is making eyes at a swooning TV reporter (Lisa Harrow) he meets in England. Only when she discovers his true identity — it actually TURNS HER ON! Speaking of kinky sex, Sam made The Final Conflict the same year he did Possession an utterly incomprehensible flick featuring slime-monster nookie.
Notables: One poorly-lit breast. 15 corpses. THE Beast. Demon-dog cam. 45-caliber to the brainpan. Demonic Boy Scouts. Gratuitous astronomers. Flaming trapeze act. Hokey computer graphics. Death by dog pack. Run-away stroller. Laundry iron attack. Baby killing. Kamikaze priests.
Quotables: Kate gives in to sins of the flesh, "I feel like a moth that’s flown too close to the flame." It only makes sense that Damien would be a sadist in the sack, "Death is pain. Birth is pain. Beauty is pain."
Time codes: Sam Neill prays to his new agent, Satan — lands role in Jurassic Park (37:50). Damien likes it rough (1:26:55). The Second Coming (1:44:10).
Final thought: Even with more blood and a smattering of sex, this is still the worst installment of the series. Yet, Sam Neill manages to remain darkly convincing.