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review added: 9/7/99



The Omen
Special Edition - 1975 (2000) - 20th Century Fox

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Omen: Special Edition Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/B+

Specs and Features

111 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2:50:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 51:48, in chapter 10), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary with director Richard Donner and editor Stuart Baird, 666: The Omen Revealed documentary, Curse or Coincidence featurette, interview with composer Jerry Goldsmith, theatrical trailer, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0 and mono) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned


As a film scholar, I have to give it up for one of my most favorite genres of all-time: Demonic Children films. The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, The Omen - these are movies that tell me exactly why I won't be having children any time soon. Imagine coming home one day and instead of a broken Gobot, Junior's playing with the disemboweled remains of his babysitter. Sure it saves me a few bucks, but it's a damn inconvenience. In The Omen, we have an additional parenting horror - switched babies. What are you supposed to do when you find out that your child was switched with that of Satan? I'd be pissed... but maybe not as pissed as Old Scratch. Imagine how mad Mr. and Mrs. Satan are, down in their flaming home, when they're teaching their new son how to taunt souls and he's not catching on. I don't want to be anywhere near the hospital responsible when they figure out what happened. And what about the lawsuit? Imagine the lawyers Satan has at his disposal! Ouch...

The Omen plays on the switched baby fear quite well. This isn't the most classic film ever made, nor is it the most horrific. But when I saw this movie as a kid, it scared the chocolate stains out of my shirts. For years, I had problems with glass trucks and walking past churches with large protruding rods at the top (and if you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, then you should watch the movie). Gregory Peck here plays an old ambassador who's having a baby. Well... he's not having a baby, his wife Lee Remick is. But when their son starts acting weird and people start dying, Peck goes on a hunt for the truth as to the origin of his son. And what he finds is bad news for everyone.

The Omen is, as I mentioned above, a pretty eerie flick and a pretty good one as well. Director Richard Donner was primarily a television director before this film and was really spreading his wings open here. There's some interesting images going on in The Omen. Of course, Donner would go on to give us Superman, Lethal Weapon and The Goonies (God help us), so he's made quite the mark on the pop culture world.

The image quality on this new DVD is pretty representative of the age of the film. The colors look good, but the picture itself is aged and soft in spots - no doubt a print issue. There's also some moments of shimmer, but it's still very watchable. The saving grace is that the transfer is anamorphic... and for what it is, it sure looks good. It could probably only look better with a fully restored negative, so I'm not complaining.

The sound is presented in a newly re-mixed stereo. For the purists out there, we also get the original mono track. Don't expect a booming, expansive sound field, because you won't get one. But the dialogue is centered and clear, and there aren't any distortions to be found.

The extras on this disc are what really call out for attention. Along with a theatrical trailer, we're treated to a commentary track with Donner and his editor Stuart Baird. They talk back and forth about the film, how it came to be and how it was making it. It's pretty entertaining, although not very Earth shattering. There's also a well made documentary called 666: The Omen Revealed, which features more information on the making of the film via interviews with the crew and others. It's well rounded, focusing more on the seriousness of the issues brought up by the film and less about the horror. Buffering that is a short featurette called Curse of Coincidence and a series of interviews with composer Jerry Goldsmith, where you listen to him and then jump to the scene he's discussing. For fans of the film, or this genre in general, this is a pretty good package for you to run through.

As you parents out there know, kids are little bit of angel and a little bit of devil rolled into a pint sized package. It's always nice to see a film that tells the truth about them, isn't it? The Omen may not represent all kids, but I'm sure we've all met a few that could easily fill in for young Damien here. This DVD is a good one, and worth checking out if you're a horror fan. You should know that Fox has released this film as a stand alone disc, as well as part of a 4-disc boxed set. The boxed set includes the film's three sequels (the fourth, a made-for-television feature entitled The Omen IV: The Awakening, is exclusive to the box set).

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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