Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#256. Damien: Omen II (1978)

Directed By: Don Taylor

Starring: William Holden, Lee Grant, Jonathan Scott-Taylor

Tag line: "The First Time was only a Warning"

Trivia:  William Holden had turned down the part in THE OMEN that went to Gregory Peck, a move he regretted once that film became a hit.  This time out, he accepted quickly

Damien: Omen 2 continues the story of Damien Thorn, the young boy nearly murdered by his father because he believed his son was the Antichrist. Seven years have passed since that tragic turn of events, and Damien (now played by Jonathan Scott-Taylor) is living in Chicago with his uncle, Richard Thorn (William Holden), his aunt Ann (Lee Grant) and cousin, Mark (Lucas Donat). The family resides on a vast estate, and during the week Damien and Mark are fellow cadets at a military academy. They're a close-knit family who love each other very much, and Damien is very, very happy.

Yet there are some who sense evil in Damien. Aunt Marion (Sylvia Sidney) is cold towards the boy, and, though her will stipulates Richard stands to inherit her vast fortune, she threatens to leave it all to charity unless Richard pulls the boys out of the academy and split them up. Then there's Joan Hart (Elizabeth Shepherd), a colleague of Keith Jennings' (the photographer from the first film played by David Warner, who had a nasty run-in with a pane of glass). She, too, tries to convince Richard Thorn that his nephew is not what he appears to be. Yet the Thorns will have none of it. They love Damien as if he were their own, and refuse to believe any of the wild stories about his so-called "sinister qualities". They are determined to live a normal life with Damien, and to love and care for him the rest of their days. All that changes, however, the moment Damien himself discovers his true nature, thus unleashing a new evil on the world, one that threatens not only the Thorn's happy existence, but mankind's as well.

Damien: Omen 2 proves a solid sequel to the first film in that it continues to develop the character of Damien Thorn, who at the start of the movie has absolutely no idea he's the spawn of Satan. There are pleasant scenes of snowball fights and birthday parties on the Thorn estate, all of which work towards building a connection between the audience and Damien. When Aunt Marion tries to drive a wedge between Damien and his adoptive parents, we find ourselves siding with Richard and Ann, who have come to the conclusion that the old girl has lost her mind. Of course, we know she hasn't; in fact, she's 100% correct in her suspicions, yet that doesn't mean we have to like it, or even her, for that matter. Damien: Omen 2 allows us to get up close and personal with a monster, and because it so successfully conveys the love and affection these characters feel for one another, we don't mind a single bit.

Damien: Omen 2 is much more character driven than the original film. There aren't as many scares in this chapter as in the first film, and even the kill scenes (with the exceptions of a roadside attack by a demonic raven and a pretty gruesome death in an elevator) don't measure up to the original. If you're looking for thrills and chills, then odds are you'll be disappointed with Damien: Omen 2. But if you're at all interested in seeing how a young boy, one who has, for the past seven years, led a completely normal life, will react to the news that he's the embodiment of evil on earth, then this is the movie for you.


Ian said...

This is actually my favorite of the original trilogy because of the complexity of the main character. In the first movie he's sort of clueless & staring; and in THE FINAL CONFLICT he's full-blown evil. But in OMEN II there's a tug-of-war between his learned goodness & his inherent badness that I find compelling.

Anonymous said...

yuck mrshock not a fan of these +++ all of them are dated not a good watch

dog time i am waiting ruff ruff

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for stopping by!

@Ian: I agree with you completely. DAMIEN: OMEN 2 is the "fork in the road" portion of the story, which is exactly why I enjoyed it. You really felt as if Damien could go either way. It was a good way to continue the story.

@Anonymous: You're certainly not alone in your dislike of the OMEN series (my wife isn't a fan of these films either), but I can't agree with you that they're dated. Just because filmmakers nowadays shy away from religious themes (done more so for "political correctness" than anything else) doesn't mean these films wouldn't work in a modern setting. As for the upcoming episode of Planet Macabre, it's shaping up to be a good one! Thanks for listening!

Ian said...

Regarding religion in movies: I was recently having a discussion about [REC] and its Hollywood remake QUARANTINE.


What's interesting is that in QUARANTINE they decided to blame a cult for the outbreak, while in the original it's the Vatican's fault. A pointed change in a movie that is otherwise a shot-for-shot remake.

DVD Infatuation said...

@Ian: Yeah, there are a few examples of Hollywood shying away from religious themes, even when including them would make sense (TROY was changed to the point that its characters, who in the original work that inspired it relied heavily on the Greek Gods, were atheists). Of course, there have also been movies like THE DA VINCI CODE (which was more a slam on religion than anything), and even THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.

I guess it's like anything else...ignored until there's substantial money to be made from it!

Thanks for the comment.

Cal said...

I bloody love this film for the exact reasons you pointed out in your review ( In fact I was outraged when i watched a documentary on the Omen films to hear Harvey Bernhard say this one had no meat to the story!). I spent ages defending this film on my own blog. Great review and blog by the way!

DVD Infatuation said...

Cal: Thanks for stopping by, and your points are certainly solid. DAMIEN: OMEN 2 is very often overlooked, yet I always found it an entertaining film (it's undoubtedly more of a character study, but what better character TO study than Damien Thorn!)

Nice blog, BTW. I'm adding it to my blog roll!

Thanks again for stopping by, and for the comment.

Cal said...

Thank you! and i shall do the same for you!-sorry i took so long to reply to your comment exams and things have had me slightly distracted. Thanks again!

DVD Infatuation said...

Cal: No problem! I certainly know how life can sometimes "get in the way"!


DZsNoggin said...

I think 2 really brought home the conspiracy elements mostly hinted at in the original. Without part 2 The Final Conflict would have looked a bit forced in how Damien reached power.

DVD Infatuation said...

@DZ: Thanks for stopping by!

Yeah, that's a good point. Part 2 did reveal that there were a LOT of people involved in Damnien's ascent to power, more than we might have guessed after Part 1. It's been years since I've seen THE FINAL CONFLICT (it was a big-time cable movie for me back in the day), but I'm anxious to re-visit it now.