My top-ten horror films #6

6 – THE OMEN (1976)

billie

There’s plenty to like in this film. The performances, by some real heavyweights, are excellent (David Warner as the doomed photographer Jennings is a standout). It’s played straight and seriously despite some dialogue that would sound terrible coming from lesser mouths (Troughton: His mother was a jackal!). Jerry Goldsmith’s score alone supplied goosebumps. And Damien, played by Harvey Spencer Stephens is seriously creepy, making Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick in the pallid 2006 remake seem like Basil Fotherington-Thomas…

fotherington

Billie Whitelaw as the nanny Mrs Baylock is utterly terrifying. She carries something malevolent in those big eyes of hers (whoever cast this film deserves some serious plaudits) and seeing her partially obscured by fabric in Katherine Thorn’s hospital room, as if viewed through Thorn’s eyes, is, for me, one of the greatest moments in horror film history.

I was deeply troubled by the way Lee Remick’s character dies plunging out of a hospital window, having already watched her seriously injured in a fall (I felt the same kind of discomfort watching Bo Derek’s demise in Orca when the killer whale crunches off at the thigh her broken, plastered leg). The final image of Damien turning to smirk at the camera is perfect. A throwaway line near the start of this film – ‘He has his father’s eyes’ – comes back to give your heart a jolt when you watch it again.

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