THE OMEN. (1976) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

damienTHE OMEN. (1976) DIRECTED BY RICHARD DONNER. WRITTEN BY DAVID SELTZER. MUSIC BY JERRY GOLDSMITH.

STARRING GREGORY PECK, LEE REMICK, BILLIE WHITELAW, DAVID WARNER, PATRICK TROUGHTON, HARVEY SPENCER STEPHENS, LEO MCKERN, JOHN STRIDE AND BRUCE BOA.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ve always thought that supernatural horror movie THE OMEN is one of the best films ever made in any genre, period, let alone just best horror. It’s superbly-made, scripted, casted and acted from start to finish, and I’ve always felt like there was this pervading sense of evil coming off of it that would seem to tie in exactly with the claims from the crew that one disaster after another befell them while they were making it.

‘It felt like someone- or something- didn’t want this film to be made,’ they said. Sometimes I think I believe them.

Gregory Peck (MOBY DICK, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, etc.) plays Robert Thorn, the handsome and distinguished American Ambassador to England who does an extraordinarily foolish, if well-intentioned, thing.

When his wife Kathy gives birth to a stillborn child, in order to spare her pain and suffering, he allows himself to be talked into substituting a live baby boy for the one they’ve lost. This turns out to be a bigger ‘Oooopsie!’ than he could ever possibly have imagined in his worst nightmares.

And ‘nightmare’ is exactly the word for it. Their new son Damien is in fact the unholy spawn of Satan. Dontcha just hate it when that happens? Can’t even illegally adopt a child in a foreign flippin’ country without its turning out to be Beelzebub’s snotty brat. Well, you gets what you pays for, I always say…!

Seriously, though, as Damien grows older, his parents can’t help but notice that people have a tendency to die horrible deaths when their son is around. Patrick Troughton, a terrific Hammer actor whom I always particularly remember from THE SCARS OF DRACULA, plays the priest who desperately tries to impress upon the sceptical Ambassador that their son is, well, who he is, and that he must be stopped before he brings about the end of the world. Which, you’ll admit, would be hellishly inconvenient for all concerned, no pun intended.

The padre even gives Robert the name of a man who can possibly put a stop to the Satanic little tyke’s nonsense. It’s always handy when you can get the name of a man that will fix your problem. Funny noise coming from the engine, leaky radiators, slow and sluggish sperm, Napoleonic delusions, your son being the Antichrist. Robert will be glad of that name before too much more time has elapsed…

There are some truly horrific and memorable deaths in the film, and any number of scenes that could quite easily make it onto a 100 SCARIEST MOMENTS list. Without giving too much away (I hope!), here are my favourites:

The nanny at the birthday party, of course. The priest in the deserted churchyard in the middle of the strange and sudden gale-force wind. The dark and isolated graveyard in a foreign place with the dogs. Any scene with big black dogs in it, in fact. Mrs. Baylock’s last stand. I’m getting chills just thinking about these nerve-shredding scenes.

Billie Whitelaw is magnificent and terrifying as the nanny who comes out of nowhere to take care of wee Damien. She scares me so much in this, even more than she did when she played Mammy Kray to Ronnie and Reggie from SPANDAU BALLET in that marvellous crime biopic.

David Warner is superb also as Keith Jennings, the journalist who tries to help Robert figure out the exact origins of his God-forsaken nipper. You might recognise him from STRAW DOGS (1971), in which he did a tremendous job of playing mentally defective local sex offender Henry Niles.

There are a few other faces amongst the cast whom you might recognise. John Stride as Kathy’s psychiatrist was great in Roman Polanski’s MACBETH. RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY, aka Leo McKern, plays ‘the man on the Essex Road’ who can discover the source of the funny noise coming from under the bonnet of the Ambassador’s car.

That’s a bit of an obscure joke, referencing both comedienne Jo Brand and early ‘Noughties romantic comedy ABOUT A BOY starring Hugh Grant. I’ll leave it in though, just in case…!

Bruce Boa as one of the Ambassador’s aides is the American tourist who so rudely demands something called a ‘Waldorf salad’ from John Cleese’s Basil Fawlty in ever-popular British sitcom, FAWLTY TOWERS. I think it consisted of ‘walnuts, apples, celery, grapes in a mayonnaise sauce,’ which sounds kind of gross but, you know, whatever floats your boat.

And rest in peace, by the way, to poor Andrew Sachs who played Manuel the Spanish waiter in the show. His comic genius will never be forgotten. Now bring me my Waldorf salad before I whack you upside-the-head with my wife’s copy of Harold Robbins’ latest rubbishy offering…!

Now, back briefly to THE OMEN. It’s naturally won a ton of awards but my favourite of these is the Oscar for Jerry Goldsmith’s original song for the movie, AVE SATANI. It’s magnificent. And bone-chillingly frightening as well. The Latin chanting and the scary choral bits and the words which mean: ‘We drink the blood, we eat the flesh, raise the body of Satan…!’ F***ing hell. Literally…

The film spawned many great sequels, by the way, including one in which Damien is a girl(!) and the best one sees Sam Neill playing the grown-up Damien who has apparently developed a taste for backdoor shenanigans, otherwise known as anal sex. The dirty little dickens…!

I’ll finish by saying this. I believe in the Devil. Okay, so he may not have a pitchfork and a long tail and horns and eat at McDonalds but there must be some source of all the evil in the world, some reason for it. This film scares me more than any other horror movie because it could be real. Who are we to say it’s not? There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in (y)our philiosophy, after all.

And then there’s that pervading sense of evil that seems to emanate from it like a stinking miasma. Maybe it’s just my imagination working overtime. Maybe it’s the brilliant film-making involved. Who knows what it is? But it’s there, and to me it feels real. Make what you will of that, dear readers. Make what you will…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

DAUGHTERS OF SATAN. (1972) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

daughters of satanDAUGHTERS OF SATAN. (1972) DIRECTED BY HOLLINGSWORTH MORSE. MUSIC BY RICHARD LASALLE. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY NONONG RASCA.

STARRING TOM SELLECK, BARRA GRANT, TANI GUTHRIE, PARALUMAN AND VIC SILAYAN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Any film that begins with naked whipping is usually fine by me, and this brilliant old ‘Seventies erotic horror movie is no exception. It has the added bonus of starring Tom ‘MAGNUM P.I.’ Selleck, whose thick luxuriant moustache and hairy-chested manliness has provided fantasy fodder for many a horny housewife over the decades.

My favourite role of his wasn’t, in fact, the Hawaiian-shirted detective but the time when he played Monica Geller’s much older boyfriend Richard in ‘Nineties sitcom FRIENDS. It was so sad when they split up because Monica wanted babies and Richard didn’t, as he’d already been there and done that with his first wife. All together now: ‘Awwwww…!’

Anyway, I loved the scene after they’d split up and Monica was curled up on the couch miserably smoking one of Richard’s yucky cigars with one of his old beloved American Civil War tapes in the VCR, just to feel close to him. Well, we can all relate to that, I guess.

She’s asleep by the time her Dad, played by the wonderful Elliott Gould, comes over to see how she is. The look of pure bliss on Dad’s face once he’s commandeered the smouldering cigar and the Civil War documentary for himself is just priceless.

Tom Selleck is terrific in DAUGHTERS OF SATAN too. He plays a moustached, hairy-chested handsome man (no change there, so!) called Jim Robertson who lives in a gorgeous house in the Philippines with his beautiful wife Christina.

She’s an empty-headed harmless little thing who looks fabulous in an array of typically early ‘Seventies dresses, but she’s seeing a psychiatrist and one suspects that the lift, in her case, doesn’t quite reach all the way to the top, haha. I’m not saying she’s wacko or anything, but she’s definitely impressionable and easily influenced and that’s what makes her perfect for the horror that unfolds.

Any-hoo, one day art buff Jim buys a rather macabre painting of three witches being burned at the stake (with a big black dog being burned with them) because the middle witch is a dead ringer for the lovely Chris.

Chris is understandably baffled as to why he’d bring such a hideous and upsetting thing home with him. I mean, a picture of her being burned at the stake, for crying out loud…! Some husbands have no common sense at all.

The advent of the painting brings some strange changes into the Robertson household. A big black devil-dog appears out of nowhere, who’s devoted to Chris but tries to take off one of Jim’s legs every time they cross paths.

A surly disobliging maid called Juana (a bit like Consuela from FAMILY GUY!) joins the household too. Again, she’s all up in Chris’s business but she’s nothing short of downright rude to Jim.

The arrival of the strange close-mouthed domestic servant at the same time as the devil-dog reminded me strongly of one of the most famous Satanic movies of all time, DAMIEN: THE OMEN, which came along just a few short years later. The indomitable Billie Whitelaw played the sinister Mrs. Baylock to perfection. I don’t know who played the mutt. I really must watch that film again later.

Gradually, anyway, Jim realises that weird stuff is happening to his painting that appears to be mirroring real life. The third witch in the picture bears a strong resemblance to Juana the maid, for example, and the painting of the dog keeps fading in and out to beat the band. Weird…!

When he discovers another painting in the series in which he himself features as the man who’s condemned the three witches to death, it becomes clear that his own life might be in danger as the three reincarnated witches, his own innocent wife included, seek revenge for their grisly ends all the way back in 1592… Eeep!

Barra Grant, a real looker, is excellent as the dreamy, dopey Christina. Tani Guthrie plays a blinder too as the sex-mad head witch who really enjoys whipping half-naked females. You do see tits in this, by the way, and jolly nice tits they are too. And not surgically-enhanced, either, unless I miss my mark.

You’ll also hear some great early ‘Seventies horror movie music and you’ll discover a novel use for ice in both the killing of a husband and also the establishing of an alibi so you don’t get done for the aforementioned. Nice…!

You’ll see some gorgeous cinematography and ‘Seventies costumes and interiors and whatnot too. This is a really enjoyable film, with tits and whipping and even some titty-whipping into the bargain. Seriously, what more could anyone possibly want from a horror movie…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor