DirectorRichard Donner/Don Taylor/Graham Baker/Jorge Montesi/Dominique Othenin-Girard/John Moore
Release Date(s)1976/1978/1981/1991/2006 (October 15, 2019)
Studio(s)20th Century Fox (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: A-
- Overall Grade: A-
One of the more interesting horror franchises of the 1970s is The Omen series, which stems from the initial idea of a child, who is poised to be the Antichrist, growing into an adult, becoming a powerful leader, and using his position to bring about the return of Satan and destroying the Second Coming of Christ. The series began with Richard Donner’s The Omen, continued two years later in Damien: Omen II, then concluded in 1981 with Omen III: The Final Conflict. A fourth film about another child with possible Satanic parentage aired on TV (and was released theatrically overseas) in 1991 called Omen IV: The Awakening. And finally, the original film was later remade in 2006 as simply The Omen. A 10-episode TV series entitled Damien aired from 2015 to 2016, and as such, is the final word on The Omen franchise thus far.
1976’s The Omen stars Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as Robert and Katherine Thorn. During the birth of their first child, it tragically dies. Unwilling to break the news to his wife, Robert adopts a baby in secret, proclaiming it to be their own. As time goes by and Robert becomes a U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, their child Damien grows up while unexplainable deaths begin occuring around them. A priest (Patrick Troughton) and a local photographer (David Warner) begin to take notice and attempt to convince Robert that Damien is the son of the devil. Now it falls upon Robert to come to grips with this before Damien, his demented and loyal nanny Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw), and a pack of unholy Rottweilers, do away with he and Katherine.
The sequel Damien: Omen II, released in 1978, picks up several years after the first film. Damien is now with his foster parents Richard and Ann Thorn (William Holden and Lee Grant). Richard is the brother of Robert and a successful industrialist in his own right, running Thorn Industries with its new manager Paul (Robert Foxworth). Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) is attending military school with his cousin Mark (Lucas Donat) and is being taken under the wing of a newly-appointed commander (Lance Henriksen). Slowly realizing that he is the son of Satan, Damien begins taking advantage of his powers, all under the watchful eye of a mysterious raven and the various people put in place to ensure his safety and success.
Omen III: The Final Conflict, released in 1981, takes place many years later and now sees Damien as a full grown man (Sam Neill), the head of Thorn Industries, and the newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain. Hell-bent on fulfilling his father’s prophecy and destroying the Second Coming, he begins laying his plans to wipe out any possible rebirth of Jesus Christ, utilizing his loyal followers to do so. Meanwhile, a group of priests have discovered the Seven Daggers of Meggido, the only means of killing Damien, and attempt to assassinate him.
In Omen IV: The Awakening, which was first shown in the U.S. on TV but released to theaters elsewhere in the world, the story shifts to Delia (Asia Vieira), a young girl with extraordinary powers and a hazy past. Her adoptive parents, congressman Gene York (Michael Woods) and his wife Karen (Faye Grant), take Delia in after being unable to produce children of their own. It isn’t long before odd things begin to happen around them and Delia’s behavior increasingly worries Karen, who later learns a profound revelation about Delia and her sordid past.
The plot of The Omen (2006) is basically the same as the original, though there are minor changes along the way, most notably a new beginning that gives the audience a background on the Antichrist and the Second Coming of Christ. The same characters are present but inhabited by new actors, including Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber), Katherine Thorn (Julia Stiles), Keith Jennings (David Thewlis), Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow), Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite), Bugenhagen (Michael Gambon), and of course, Damien Thorn (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick).
The Omen (the original, for those keeping count) is a terrific film. Despite how aged it is when it comes to its wardrobe, environments, and choice of automobiles, the story is still compelling and the performances are quite strong from all involved. One can also never forget the images of Father Brennan being impaled by a large spike or Keith Jennings being decapitated by a sheet of glass. Damien: Omen II isn’t quite up to same standards, but it’s an enjoyable sequel in many ways, even if it does try to unsuccessfully top the aforementioned deaths from the first film. Omen III: The Final Conflict feels like an undercooked project by comparison. It’s quite slow and functions very differently than the previous two films. However, there are a few sparks of interest throughout, including a memorable and brutal death at the beginning, as well as the notion of murdering infants, which you won’t find in even the most heinous of horror films.
The latter two entries of the series are truly a mixed bag. Omen IV: The Awakening is just not good. There’s not much to it as it almost feels like a parody of what’s come before, providing very little that’s new or interesting. Comparatively, The Omen (2006) does present a fresh take, even if it is mostly the same material as before. It isn’t the quite the rubbish that it’s made out to be as the few additions and changes made along the way, as well as the stark visuals, give it its own flair and identity. Not all is positive though as the chemistry between Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles is all but absent, meaning that the love between Richard and Katherine that was captured so well in the original film is notably missing, leaving little impact behind. However, there are minor changes that do feel like improvements, such as Robert Thorn’s grief being a bit more pronounced during the story’s darker moments. The deaths have also been altered slightly, and in the case of Father Brennan, somewhat improved. Mia Farrow is also a fine and devilish substitute for Billie Whitelaw.
All in all, The Omen series is an uneven but interesting franchise with one really strong film to build upon and a string of decent to unworthy follow-ups. Scream Factory brings all of these films together for the first time in one collection. 20th Century Fox previously attempted their own collection of the first four films in a boxed set with substandard disc housings, but Scream Factory has rectified that. All five discs are housed in their own keep cases within attractive and sturdy slipcase packaging.
The Omen features a recent 4K transfer of the film from the original camera negative, which was approved by Richard Donner. It’s an incredibly film-like presentation with newfound clarity that’s sharp and clean with thoroughly even grain and high levels of fine detail throughout. The color palette is rich and varied with hues that pop, as well as natural flesh tones. Blacks are deep while contrast and brightness levels are perfect. Stability is never an issue, nor are there any major instances of damage leftover. It’s easily the best home video presentation of the film.
The transfers for the remaining films come from existing masters, some older than others. Omen II and Omen III offer nice presentations, though fresher scans would have yielded more potent detail. However, they’re still worthy high definition presentations with healthy grain fields but sporadic instances of speckling and scratches (though Omen III is comparatively cleaner). The color palettes aren’t quite as rich as the original film, but there’s enough saturation to go around. Blacks aren’t thoroughly deep and mild crush is present, but overall brightness and contrast levels are ideal. Omen IV is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Like the previous two films, it offers a strong, though dated, presentation with good color, plenty of fine detail, decent black levels, and good contrast, with only mild instances of speckling.
The existing master for The Omen (2006) is the best-looking master of the four, mainly because it’s the film that was shot the most recently and on the best stock. However, it does have a tinge of softness, only due to it being sourced from a dated master. Detail is high and the color palette is varied and bold (though aggressively graded). Blacks are a tad crushed and the film could have been brightened up by a few degrees, but everything is clean and stable otherwise.
The audio for The Omen is included in English 2.0 mono and 5.1 DTS-HD. The 2.0 track is clear, clean, and precise with excellent dialogue reproduction and an impactful score. There’s even surprising ambient activity from time to time. Damien: Omen II offers the same, but sounds less clean. Mild hiss is leftover, dialogue is discernable, sound effects have decent impact, and the score isn’t quite as robust. Omen III: The Final Conflict presents tracks in English 2.0 stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD. There’s definitely more muscle to them, with sound effects, and especially the score, given much more room to breathe and greater impact. Dialogue is mostly relegated to the center, but comes through well without any issues. It’s also cleaner than its predecessor, though a couple of moments of minor clipping do occur. Omen IV: The Awakening features an English 2.0 DTS-HD soundtrack. It doesn’t showcase any panning activity, but definitely places ambient noise all around. Dialogue is firmly in the center while the score fills out the left and right channels. The soundtrack for The Omen (2006) is included in English 5.1 DTS-HD. It’s a rather powerful track with plenty of surround activity and ambience, from the very subtlest of moments to the large and boisterous. Dialogue is clear and both the sound effects and score are more than well-served on this dynamic and well-mixed track. All five films also come with optional subtitles in English SDH.
THE OMEN (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): A/A/A
DAMIEN: OMEN II (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B+/B
OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B+/B-
OMEN IV: THE BEGINNING (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): D/B+/B-
THE OMEN (2006) (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/A-/A
This set also contains a number of extensive extras, some newly-produced.
On Disc One (The Omen), there are four audio commentaries: a new audio commentary with special project consultant Scott Michael Bosco; another with director Richard Donner and editor Stuart Baird; another with Richard Donner and filmmaker Brian Helgeland; and another with film historians Nick Redman, Lem Dobbs, and Jeff Bond. Also included is an isolated score audio track in 5.1 Dolby Digital; The Devil’s Word, a new 24-minute interview with screenwriter David Seltzer; It’s All for You, a new 13-minute interview with actress Holly Palance; The Devil’s Music, and a new 19-minute interview with composer Christopher Young. Under Vintage Featurettes, there’s the 15-minute Richard Donner on The Omen; the 24-minute The Omen Revelations; the 7-minute Curse or Coincidence?; the 46-minute 666: The Omen Revealed; a 2-minute introduction to the film by Donner from 2006; a brief (but incomplete) deleted scene with non-optional audio commentary by Donner and Helgeland; the 16-minute Screenwriter’s Notebook, an interview with writer David Seltzer; the 20-minute An Appreciation: Wes Craven on The Omen; and the 18-minute Jerry Goldsmith Discusses The Omen Score, which is included in 4 parts. In addition, there’s also a Trailers from Hell version of the film’s trailer featuring commentary by Larry Cohen; the original theatrical trailer; 3 TV spots; 7 radio spots; and 4 animated still galleries, including 85 on-set and promotional stills, 78 behind-the-scenes stills, 83 posters and lobby cards, and 19 publicity photos and newspaper clippings. Note that the Trivia Track found on the previous Blu-ray has not been carried over.
On Disc Two (Damien: Omen II), there’s another new audio commentary with special project consultant Scott Michael Bosco; an audio commentary with producer Harvey Bernhard and DVD producer J.M. Kenny; Damien’s Guardian, a new 16-minute interview with actress Lee Grant; The Devil’s CEO, a new 16-minute interview with actor Robert Foxworth; The Harbinger, a new 27-minute interview with actress Elizabeth Shepherd; Shepherd’s Scrapbook, which is 4 minutes of behind the scenes photos taken by the actress; Power and The Devil: The Making of Damien: Omen II, a vintage 7-minute featurette; the original theatrical trailer; 3 TV spots; 3 radio spots; and an animated still gallery featuring 89 images of on-set photos, behind-the-scenes stills, promotional photos, posters, lobby cards, and the original Super 8 box art.
On Disc Three (Omen III: The Final Conflict), there’s another new audio commentary with special project consultant Scott Michael Bosco; an audio commentary with director Graham Baker; Devil in the Detail, a new 26-minute interview with Graham Baker; Resurrecting the Devil, a new 21-minute interview with screenwriter and associate producer Andrew Birkin; a new 17-minute interview with production assistant Jeanne Ferber; the original theatrical trailer; 2 TV spots; and an animated still gallery featuring 52 images of on-set photos, behind-the-scenes stills, promotional photos, posters, lobby cards, and a press book.
On Disc Four (Omen IV: The Awakening), there’s The Book of Evil, a new 18-minute interview with screenwriter Brian Taggert; The Omen Legacy, a nearly 2-hour vintage documentary on all of the films in The Omen series and the religious symbolism and ideals surrounding them, narrated by Jack Palance; the original theatrical trailer; and an animated still gallery featuring 29 promotional photos, behind-the-scenes stills, lobby cards, and posters.
On Disc Five (The Omen (2006)), there’s an audio commentary with director John Moore, producer Glenn Williamson, and editor Dan Zimmermann; 2 unrated and extended scenes and an extended ending; Omenisms, a 37-minute documentary about the making of the film featuring many members of the cast and crew; Abbey Road Sessions, a 10-minute featurette about the film’s music; Revelation 666, a 22-minute documentary about the infamous 3 numbers and what they symbolize; and the film’s 2 teasers and theatrical trailer. Not included from the original DVD release is the trailer for The Omen: Collector’s Edition, and not included from the original Blu-ray release is The Devil’s Footnotes trivia track. It’s also worth noting that a series of brief featurettes, including Life After Film School, Making a Scene, Casting Session, and World Premiere, which were included on overseas DVD releases of the original sequels, weren’t utilized either.
Scream Factory has put together a fantastic package with this release of The Omen series. It’s a massive amount of material to go through, and well worth it. The transfers are excellent and the bonus materials are top shelf, not to mention the handsome packaging and artwork. It’s easily one of the reigning releases of the Halloween season, and beyond. Highly recommended!
– Tim Salmons