Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Movie Review: Damien: Omen II (1978)

So, as madly in love with The Omen as I am, I figured it was silly of me having not given a fair chance to the sequels yet. I made the mistake of watching the remake and was hoping that the sequels wouldn't be as bad. And yet... not a fan. Not a fan of Damien: Omen II. Really not.

The Antichrist returns: Robert and Kathy Thorn are dead, and their son Damien is sent to live with an uncle, Robert's brother Richard and his wife Ann. He attends military school with his cousin Mark and soon starts to receive clues about his true identity. At the same time, several people try to warn Richard and Ann that the child they're raising is the Antichrist.

Bugenhagen makes a return at the beginning of the film, trying to convince a colleague of Damien's evilness. He takes him to an archeological dig that has revealed Yigeal's wall which clearly depicts a painting of the Antichrist looking exactly like Damien. However, the two men are soon taken care of by those evil forces that seem to protect Damien and in a great turn of events, they are first trapped in the dig by a cave-in and then are apparently suffocated by the sand that pours in on top of them. The end of Bugenhagen. Me is sad.

By the way, I love the name Bugenhagen. I might just change my last name to Bugenhagen. And then I will only want to be addressed as Bugenhagen.

Anyway. So as the movie's title is Damien, the entire movie seems to be only about Damien and him finding out who he is and killing everyone who knows who he really is. And that brings me to the question of "What the hell (pun intended) is the point of this movie?" My idea of a sequel is that it should move the original story forward and introduce some new element. But all we get from this movie is Damien's knowledge of his identity, which the audience ALREADY KNOWS. And I kept wondering where this story was going and it ended up going nowhere.

We've seen the first movie, we know Damien is evil and in fact, I always thought that Damien himself knew he was evil too. That smile he gives in the last frame always seemed to me like a smile of triumph. Like, "That's right, bitches, I'm the Devil. Recognize!" He's killed his future sibling, his mom, and his dad has been taken care of. He's only six years old and now he's more powerful than his father could ever have been.

And yet, only seven years later, the pre-teen Damien apparently has no recollection of these events and has no idea of the power he possesses. Why? Who knows. But as in the first film, there are plenty of Devil worshippers surrounding him and protecting him, including his commander at the military academy (Lance Henriksen) and one accomplice who isn't revealed until the end and is a pleasant surprise. It was a good revelation, but even that shock ending was just too... meager. I wanted more. I wanted a story that was more advanced and revealed more maybe about what Damien is supposed to DO here on Earth as the Antichrist. Just what his agenda is going to be. But like I said, by the end we still don't know much more than what we already knew from the original film. Little bit of a disappointment there.

Jonathan Scott-Taylor as the new Damien is an impressive young actor and pulls off his role with talent and ease. I'm also impressed that they found a child actor who actually looks a lot like the Damien from the first film and is therefore very believable as a grown-up version of that same person.

The movie is not without its gory out-of-place highlights, similar to the decapitation in the first movie. I watched the elevator cable slice that dude in half with such glee that I think I made my dad worried about my sanity. David Warner getting his head cut off by that glass pane in the original film was always a shock to me because Gregory Peck is the star of the movie, and Gregory Peck is not usually in movies where people get decapitated so beautifully. I honestly wasn't expecting this kind of carnage in the sequel, especially the elevator scene. But there is great suspense as the elevator first plunges several stories, then stops, then the cable coming flying down right toward it. Ohhhhhhhh, something awesome is going to happen! The cable cuts through the elevator itself and then - in slow motion - cleanly and bloodily cuts the guy in half at the stomach. Yes, there are intestines. Love it.

So Damien: Omen II is really about nothing new and doesn't come close to being nearly as awesome as its predecessor. It's not a bad movie, though. There are some interesting scenes and some unintentionally comic scenes. Do I even have to mention the ice skating part? The guy floating in the water underneath the ice? I should have been horrified, but instead I thought it was kind of funny. Maybe I'm the Antichrist, too. And the crow attack? Pretty cool, but also a little funny at the same time.

Sidenote: While doing some research on this movie, I read one link where some book had the original Omen listed as one of the "fifty worst movies of all time" (as of 1978). Whuhhh??? The rest of the movies listed were crap that I have never heard of or want to hear of, but to call The FREAKING Omen one of the worst films ever? I am appalled.


  1. I'm one of those that thinks THE OMEN is grossly overrated, and I have to confess, I think this sequel is an improvement on the original film. I disagree with you that there is no new element or no progression from the first. Having successfully adapated himself, and took advantage of the political spectrum, in the second film Damien furthers his aims for world domination by utilising the capitalist system. He is very aware that control in politics and corporate capitalism represents the surest route to world power and the second film develops that well. That's my view anyway...I enjoyed reading your review :-)

  2. Ha! I always laugh at Bugenhagen too. There's that moment with the priest in the first film where he like stumbles over the line "You must go see the old man...BUGENHAGEN!" and it makes me laugh so. I offer support in your quest to become Bugenhagen.

    I too am a huge fan of The Omen...but I haven't tried the sequels yet. I always wanted to see the third one, with young Sam Neill as Damien, but this one has always kinda scared me away. Maybe I'll muster up some courage soon.

  3. Great! I too wholeheartedly support the Bugenhagen quest. Terrific idea.
    I think the third film is my fave (after the original, obviously), there's something about the priests' multiple failed assassination attempts that I find a bit slapstick and endearing, in a good way, of course.

  4. Michele, i agree with you about the bit where the geezer gets chopped in half in the lift, that still looks fabulous even 33 years on.

  5. T-shirts! The Mike, we need t-shirts - a picture of Bugenhagen and that exact quote you mentioned. Let's make it happen.