Time for another tribute episode. This week, we celebrate the legacy of Richard Donner, the man behind most of the films we loved the most as children of the 80s. It was this movie – 1976’s The Omen – that brought him out of TV directing and into a wildly successful career in feature films. A solid entry into the “satanic cult craze” of late 70’s horror (which started with The Exorcist), it features a practically-out-of-retirement Gregory Peck as the stepfather of the antichrist.
The Omen (1976)
Episode 261, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw
Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd.
Craig: And I’m Craig.
Todd: Well, we come to that time of year again, where we’ve had another famous personality in the film world die. Uh, and this time it was. The noted director, Richard Donner died at the ripe old age of 91 this month. It’s crazy. If you look back over Richard Donner’s filmography, most of the big action blockbuster, I shouldn’t say most many of the big action blockbuster hits of the eighties and a little bit in the nineties that were so popular and iconic of the time were directed by him.
He kicked it off with the Superman and he was probably the first person to really treat the superhero genre seriously, uh, instead of making it campy. And I think that’s what won everyone’s heart over with the original Superman and Superman to which he did. But before he did Superman and Superman to just a year or two, before he did this film called the omen, uh, in 1976, actually the first movie he did really out of TV, he spent most of his early career in television, did a ton of television.
Was offered the opportunity to direct the omen and jumped at that chance to finally direct a feature film. And once Gregory Peck got on board unexpectedly, he was actually pretty much retired from acting at the time. And he decided to come on board with the film. And that brought a lot of other, a lot of legitimacy to the movie, I guess you should say to the project.
And so other actors came on board and before, you know, Uh, we have a movie that, uh, when it was released, came about at the right time, it falls on the heels of Rosemary’s baby and the Exorcist. And a lot of these sort of say Titanic oriented films, religious horror type stuff that was really popular during this period of time in the late seventies.
So, um, yeah, uh, it became a blockbuster hit for him, boosted him into, uh, fame. And he, then he went on to direct, like I said, the Superman movies, the first two, uh, the lethal weapon series, all of those, we did Scrooged earlier on here, which is one of our favorites. Almost everything that he’s touched has turned to gold.
The Goonies, I forgot he directed Goonies. I always had it in my head that it was Christopher Columbus who directed it, but he just wrote it. And Stephen King produced it. Man Richard Donner, Steven Spielberg. Yeah. Steven Spielberg. Yeah. And then I went back and I looked, and I saw that so many movies that we really like were almost directed by him.
Like he turned down offers to direct other movies that went on to become big blockbusters. So a pretty interesting man, and we’re really happy to honor him today by reviewing the omen, certainly an iconic horror movie and O horror movie that, uh, would have been very important to him and his career. I had seen the omen, uh, later in life, maybe about six or seven years ago for the very first time.
I just watched it during one of those months where I was challenging myself to watch a horror movie a day in October and write a little review up about it. So I remember watching it, writing a little review about it and, uh, being a little disappointed in it at the time, thinking that it would be something a little more on the scale, the Exorcist or something, just super scary like that.
Uh, because it’s just been part of pop culture. For my childhood anyway, Damian, you know, Damien the antichrist, the yeoman. Oh my God. So I was scared, kind of scared of this movie for a while. And then when I watched the movie, I thought, oh, it’s not as scary as I thought it would be revisiting it this time.
I wondered if I would revise my judgment. And I guess as we go on and talk about it, we will see Craig. How about you? What’s your history with this movie?
Craig: Oh, no. Um, I was always aware of it. Uh, the box art, uh, is imprinted in my mind with, you know, the little boy casting the shadow of a upside down cross.
I’m sure I saw it when I was a kid, just because I knew that it was. A classic, I guess, at least of its day. And I remember iconic scenes from it. And, you know, I remember the general story. I think that I kind of, in my mind conflate part one and part two and Donner didn’t do part two. I remember in part two scenes with Ravens and a very gruesome scene of a woman being killed by a flock of Ravens on a road.
Uh, I think, um, and like I said, there are definitely parts of this movie that I remembered, but I didn’t, I don’t know, like I didn’t have any strong memories of it, but I was excited to go back and watch it. And ultimately I like it. I think it’s a good movie on, I am DB, you know, they, they categorize their movies and, and sometimes they’ll be like horror comedy or.
Horror suspense or whatever. And this one is just labeled straight up horror, which I find kind of. Interesting because though there definitely are horror elements. I mean, we’re talking about Satanism and the antichrist. It really feels more like a thriller or a family drama. Yeah. And. There’s nothing wrong with that.
That’s perfectly fine, but I don’t find it to be particularly scary. I wasn’t really scared. No. Right. I was interested and I was engaged and it’s a good movie. It’s it’s well done. It’s well shot. I mean, I don’t think that there’s, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. That’s particularly notable about the filmmaking style.
Um, it’s very straightforward. There’s not a whole lot of really super stylistic stuff
Todd: going on. Not too much, but there’s, there’s a little bit of stuff in there. Yeah. A little
Craig: bit, a little bit. And uh, there are some deaths that are, if not shocking at the very least. Interesting and creative and, and I liked the way that many of these deaths were foreshadowed.
Um, there was some kind of unexpected stuff. I feel like I’m talking it down and I don’t mean to, because I really do like it, it just doesn’t, it’s not a lot, like most of the movies that we do, it’s not, it’s not a slasher. It’s not crazy supernatural. In fact, that’s kind of one of the things that I appreciate about it.
Uh, Richard Donner, one of his rules for the movie was that he didn’t want there to be anything that was overtly supernatural. He didn’t want anything to happen that couldn’t potentially happen in real life. And so I guess in some iteration, The script, there were mentions of, you know, supernatural, which covens and like D like hooved demons and stuff.
And he didn’t want that. He wanted there to maybe even be the suggestion that, uh, our main character, Robert Dorn played by Gregory Peck. Maybe he’s just kind of losing it a little bit because of the drama that it’s causing him, his family. And I actually think that that was a really smart approach. Now that said everything that happens in the movie could.
Happened in real life, but it would be awfully coincidence at all that all this crazy stuff is
Todd: happening. Yeah. Coincidences. Yeah. But you know, this is how the devil would work in real life. You know, uh, CS Lewis described miracles, you know, these aren’t going to be like, suddenly the clouds open up and this beam comes down and something miraculous happens in front of you.
It’s going to be, um, unseen, supernatural force, manipulating the natural forces that we all know and recognize in our world and in our nature to make something happen that we then deem as miraculous. Right. And so in that way, it’s still is a little, I don’t know, it’s in keeping, I think with a biblical type theme of the movie, at least at least one interpretation of the biblical, you start talking about religion and even, especially, even just Christianity itself.
And you’ve got a lot of different directions. You can go with that, a lot of different beliefs and coded within that a lot. There’s the mystical and the different degrees in different shades of that. It’s cool. Actually, like you said, that he decided to take this approach with the subject matter. Although, you know, I don’t feel like you walk into a movie like this expecting.
To be, guess what? You know, it was all just a bunch of coincidences kind of thing. And so it certainly wasn’t marketed that way. No, the movie was heavily marketed. I think they spent twice the budget of the movie just on marketing alone. And then they tried to play up this idea that the movie was cursed.
There was talk of these accidents that happen during production, that Gregory pack had booked a flight to Jerusalem or something and, or Israel. At some point it had canceled it last minute while he was on the production. But, and then that flight ended up crashing and killing everyone on board. I read these things, things like that, things like lightning striking two of the plane, the plane of producer and somebody else twice.
However, if you kind of dig a little deeper, you realize. Very little, if any of this has actually been verified. And it seems like a lot of these little things were just played up by Donner and the producers and sells Nick the writer, just to create some, some
Craig: press, you can read all about that stuff. And it’s an interesting stuff.
If all of it’s true, if any of it’s true, but right. Like you said, um, weird stuff. Lightening striking planes, plane crashes, accidents on set. Uh, there’s a scene that takes place in an animal sanctuary. And supposedly on that day, one of the, uh, employees at the animal sanctuary was killed by the animals.
And, um, but like you said, so much of it is unsubstantiated. So you kind of have to take it with a grain of salt. I don’t know. I mean, if it is true, that’s, those are very strange coincidence is, and it makes for a good story and it, it worked, you know, there was a lot. Buzz about this movie. And you mentioned that it came after Rosemary’s baby and the x-ray system.
And it’s very much a in the vein of those movies, but this was kind of the last one as a, then we moved more into the eighties, the genre leaned heavily into slashers and these movies just kind of stopped being made. But I like it. I don’t want to go in on a negative note because not at all I do like it.
It’s good. Um, and Gregory Peck, like you said, lends a lot of legitimacy to this movie. And I don’t think that this movie would be as renowned or simply even as, as well-known, if he hadn’t signed on to do it. And Gregory Peck is one of, if not my favorite actors from that era, uh, I think that Gregory Peck is.
Incredible actor. He’s a little bit older here, but I think he puts in a, a great performance. I thought it was funny to read, you know, they say, don’t meet your heroes. I read that Donner had to do a lot of reshoots, especially in close-ups because Gregory Peck, um, had a thing about not wanting to be seen with double chins, really like, dude, you’re old, it happens to the best of us.
Um, and if you don’t want to be, you know, seen with double chins, maybe talk to your costumer about not putting you in turtle necks all the time,
then he’s good. And I think, uh, the performances are good. There is definitely some spooky stuff going on. I’ve mentioned before. I don’t consider myself deeply, deeply religious, but I do identify as a Christian and the, uh, idea. Of an antichrist is something that is not out of the realm of possibilities for me.
And so it’s, it’s frightening. And I, and I do like the family drama, you know, this all really hinges on a very early scene. The very first scene we see is in Rome and Robert thorn, Gregory Peck is on his way to the hospital, but he’s already been informed that his wife has delivered a baby, but that it had died, that it had only taken a couple of breaths and that it died, which obviously is a tragedy for any family.
And when he arrives there, I guess it’s a Catholic hospital and the priest who talks to him says, look, the baby died. But another baby was born at the exact same time and its mother died and there’s no other family. We should just tell your wife that that’s her baby and spare her. The loss thorn is reluctant at first, but eventually that’s what he does.
And, and so it all kind of hinges on this lie. You know, the, the wife, Katherine believes that this is her child and they moved to London. Thorn is immediately appointed, um, the American ambassador to great Britain. He has aspirations to be president, and then we get this whole happy family montage of photographs that show the first few years.
Of Damien’s life and they live in this big, beautiful house and on this big, beautiful estate and everything seems great. Like they are just happy, happy, happy. But then when Damien gets a little bit older, the strange things start happening and in real life you would never connect it. You know, you would never think, oh, wow.
Damien must be evil. That’s just not a conclusion that you would jump to, especially as his parents, but the first big, weird thing is a at Damien’s fifth birthday party. Some weird stuff is going on. Like there’s a Rottweiler, just kind of looming in the background. And he locks eyes with Damien’s nanny who is played.
I think by Jack plants, his daughter, once the Rottweiler locks eyes with her, she disappears for a minute. And then all the kids are down on the lawn. Having a great time. They’ve got like this kind of little mini carnival set up. I mean, these are obviously very wealthy people and you hear Holly calling to Damien.
And when everybody finally turns around, they see her standing up on 11.
Look at me, Jamie.
And she jumps off the legend, hangs herself in front of all of these people. Most of them, children.
Todd: Yeah. That’s a shocking scene. It’s not bloody, but no, when she leaves, you know, she’s, she’s tied to a rope and she crashes into the window on the story or two below her. So it’s loud and it’s piercing and it’s shocking.
And it’s, it’s, it’s really freaky actually. And the fact of course, it happens in front of everybody else. He’s smiling as she does it just seemingly out of character for her. Uh, it appears because we’ve seen her a little bit before here, we saw them moving into the house and we saw the family. And like you said, it is this happy family situation, but there still seems to be, uh, a bit of a.
Reserved and almost brooding nature about Robert. I think almost from the very beginning, I mean, obviously the beginning scenes of the film, right? When, when he’s had this issue with the almost stillborn baby, and then the guilt that he may be feels at replacing the baby with another one. But I felt like even just throughout the movie, this guy seemed to just his mind was elsewhere, right?
Like he’s very official. He’s very, business-like he clearly loves his wife. They’re smiling, they’re happy, you know? Um, there’s some romantic scenes in the beginning between the two of them. But one thing that I didn’t see that I kind of expected to see in a movie like this, where many scenes of just love between him and her and their son.
And I feel like it’s kind of an untapped aspect of this movie is okay. Well, we’re dealing with the antichrist here who has infiltrated your family. This is your son who for at least the first five years of his life has just been your son. This family’s got everything, you know, they’re, they’re living on, like you said, almost a palatial estate.
As the ambassadors got this great job, they have help that his fifth birthday party, which you know, is when all where all this takes place. It’s this extravagant affair on the grounds with carnival games and lots of people there and like journalists running around and things. Great. And yet, you know, I never got this sense.
This kid, like this kid is just almost, not even in the movie or really, you know, and I didn’t get these like tender scenes of, of them, you know, loving him or holding him and, or ear.
Craig: I know that’s what they were trying to establish with that photograph montage.
Craig: Well, I agree with you. I think another element is, um, I have absolutely no familiarity with a wealthy lifestyle.
And like we’ve said already, these people are very wealthy and not only very wealthy, but politically prominent. And like you said, there are journalists there. Um, I think one of the journalists, or he’s at least a photographer that’s just around all the time. I kind of didn’t really get that. Keith played by David Warner.
Who’s very recognizable. I recognize him most. He was the bad guy’s Lackey on Titanic. Yeah. But he’s been in tons of stuff. He’s always around taking photographs. And like you said, they do have help. In fact, I think that the whole reason that Holly kills herself is to get her out of the way because then a new nanny comes in and as it turns out and it’s very easy.
To tell from the beginning, she is specifically there to look over a Damien and she clearly fully knows who and what Damian is and it’s her purpose to protect him. So like, you know, she’s what, I don’t know, a Satanist, a cultist, uh, an Emissary of the devil, I don’t know, but she’s bad. And so Holly had to be gotten out of the way, so this woman could come in.
So that’s what I was getting at with the whole wealthy thing is because they do have so much help. It’s, you know, Damian is most often in the charge of someone else. Like they only have him in brief moments when they, you know, I guess, want to have a kid or when they are going out and making appearances and, and want him there.
Now that’s not to say. I don’t know, like I said, I have zero experience, but that’s not to say that wealthy parents don’t love their children, but these incredibly wealthy people who have nannies and so much other help, I wonder I could be entirely wrong. And I’m sure it, you know, as a case to case basis.
But I wonder if there is kind of that disconnect that you don’t see in families. Like we grew up in normal families,
Todd: parents where your
Craig: parents have to be around you. All the time. So hopefully they like you,
Todd: which really is better in the long run. We can’t say that either. Right? So, yeah, there’s also a
Craig: priest at the birthday party, uh, father Brennan, this kind of crazy eyed priest too, in a very frantic way, approaches Robert, you must take communion, drink the blood of Christ and each his flesh, or only if he is within you, can you defeat the son of the devil he’s killed once he’ll kill again, he’ll kill until everything that’s yours as his
Can you fight him?
Craig: Except the Lord, Jesus drink his blood and tells him that he was at the hospital when Damian was born. And I guess this isn’t at the party. I think it’s maybe just after he visited, he visits him in his office, I suppose. And he’s very intense and he’s trying to tell thorn something is going on.
And just before security whisks him away, he screams his mother was a Jack and then he gets taken away, gets a squirted out. And there’s all these, all the weird things going on. Like Keith, the photographer develops his pictures and all of the pictures with father Brennan have this weird. He thinks that it’s a, an imperfection in the film or in the.
Meant process. Um, but in every image of him, there’s a line going through him like through the top of his torso black line, which becomes important later. So there threw out there’s this weird, suspicious stuff going on. And as a viewer, I’m curious. I don’t know. I, I don’t first time viewers, when this movie came out, I don’t know what they were expecting.
I know what this is about. I know that this is an antichrist movie. I know that this kid is supposed to be the antichrist. So I just go in assuming that all of these things are somehow. LinkedIn that they will be connected in and explains to us as they are. I don’t know how, you know, a first time viewer without that kind of expectation would, would take it, but it’s
Well, I think the thing that kind of puts it over the edge as far as that goes, and I, and I read that there was actually quite a bit of discussion about the Mrs. Blaylock character played by Billy White law. She’s the replacement nanny. She was originally written into the script as a more affable kind of friendly person, I guess, more kinda the neighbors and Rosemary’s baby.
Right, right. But from the minute she’s there, she’s pretty sinister to the point where you kind of wonder why they ever agreed to have her, especially because as soon as she shows up and introduce her to the cell phone on the news. Oh no. If,
Craig: if you let me see your boy. Well, yes, of course. It’s upstairs.
I’ll show you where it is. Why don’t you just leave us alone at first? Let us get acquainted in our room. Well, he’s shy with new people. Not with me. He will be, well, I don’t think fine. Go on, give it a try.
Todd: Leave me alone with your child, this woman that just walked in and they send her up and you know, it’s one of those classic moments. So where did you find this gal finder? I thought you’re the one who found her, you know, and then they go upstairs. They’re like, where the hell did you come from? Anyway, just like, oh, like the agency sent me and, uh, they found out that the nanny had died and wanted to send a replacement and here’s my references and all that.
And just like, oh, okay, thank you very much. And then that’s that, but this woman is just creepy. She’s doing things that, that they don’t want. She brings this dog into the house. This Rottweiler
Craig: expressly tells her to get rid of it. And like, she’s brazen, like, oh yeah. When she brings in the dog, thorn is like, you know, where did this dog come from?
And, uh, she’s like, well, it was wandering on the lawn. So I brought it in. I thought we could use a watchdog and. Look, if I want a dog, I’ll get a dog, myself getting rid of it. And she’s like, well, but Damien’s really attached. And he’s like, no, get rid of it. And then she still doesn’t like, and the same thing, there’s a scene where the thorns are dressed to the nines.
You don’t know where they’re going at first, but they’re, they’re very dressed up. Uh, the mom, Catherine is calling for Damien and Mrs. Baylock comes to the stairway and the mom’s like, is he ready to go? And Mrs Baylock is like, you know what? Uh, I think he’s too young to go to church. He wants to go to the park instead.
And she’s like, No, he’s going to church with us. And Mrs. Baylock is like, well, you know, I don’t really think he would understand, like, why are you letting this woman talk to you like that? You are super rich and you are her boss fire.
Todd: Exactly great. And when they do go to the church, of course, Damian, as they get closer and closer, Damien starts to get more and more upset. It’s like he sees Jesus up on the, there’s like a statue of Jesus up where the cross would be or whatever. And, and he gets more and more agitated. And by the time they pull up, uh, you know, he’s frantic, he’s clawing at his mom and all that and won’t get out of the car.
And so they end up leaving this it’s a, it was a wedding they were going to, and they ended up leaving. But you know, like, like at that point, come on, you know, and I think this is what Richard Donner and the producers had some discussions about was, do we leave her in because she’s clearly so sinister that it kind of throws that whole could this, or could this not be a coincidence thing off the law, but, but he was just in love with her performance and it is a great, yeah.
Craig: it is really good.
Todd: Yeah. He, he left it in there.
Craig: So I thought you were going to say like when they pull up to the church and Damien starts freaking out and you said at this point, at this point, oh, come on. Like, I can see how. As an audience member, you would be like, well, obviously there’s something off with this kid.
Like why is he, you know, he’s been totally docile and finds that the whole movie. And now all of a sudden you pull them up in front of a church and he like goes feral and is applying and his mom, blah, blah, blah. But you’re a dad. These things happen. Kids freak out sometimes for no good reason. They just freak out
Todd: in the day, especially freaking age.
Right. He’s five. I mean, mine’s four and already it’s like just, you never know how the day’s going to go and you don’t know what’s going to set them off. And sometimes you don’t even know what did set them off. He’s just in a bad mood, all of a sudden. And it’s, it’s maddening. I mean, that would be an awful lot of coincidences.
Right? My FA I loved it when they went to the animal safari park. Was interesting. I’ve been to one of these. They, we have one here in Beijing. It was a big, fun experience. I think I might’ve talked about on here once before, but you can drive through in your own car through some of the animal habitats where they’re, they’re running roaming free, but you’re not supposed to roll your windows down or get out of the car or hit them.
Right. Because they’re wild animals. Honestly, you’re given a whole lot the freedom to like, be good going through these animal parks. It’s kind of weird. We have this, but yeah, they they’re driving through the animal park and they get through the monkey section. And well, at first when they arrive, Damien kind of walks up to a bunch of giraffes, which all turn tail and run and mom was like, huh, that’s odd.
Well, let’s go over and look at the elements. You know, they get in the car and they drive through this and they get to the section where the monkeys are baboons or whatever they are. They’re all kind of visibly freaked out. And then they all start to surround the car and jump on the car and kind of attack the car, which is horrifying.
Craig: Oh yeah, because baboons. Well can be very violent and very dangerous. And I guess the way that they accomplished this was they drove through and there was somebody sitting in the back. And at first they took a baby baboons thinking that the baboons would be curious and protective and try to get the baby.
Well, the baboons didn’t know, react at all.
Todd: They don’t give a shit about their kids do
Craig: scary. The baby who cares, whatever we’ll make more. Then they took, I guess, like the pack leader of these baboons and put it in the back of the car and the baboons really did freak out. And so, you know, you see this and it is very real.
These baboons. Are attacking this car. And apparently Lee Remick who plays Catherine, she looks terrified and her reactions are genuine as mine would have been. I would have been scared to death like in that situation. Oh, so frightening where just, I understand that automobile glasses stronger than like a window pane is still theirs.
A little thin layer of glass between you and this horde of these violent wild animals, but you know, they get away and then they never talk about it again. Like it’s just all again, it could be coincidence. And actually, were there ever any parts in the movie where you felt sorry for Damien because the kid doesn’t know he’s the devil, right?
Todd: Well, does he, that’s the big question, right? Maybe not, but then he turns around and does that little evil grin every now and then
Todd: Block size with things. And you think, oh man, I think the kid does kind of know he’s the devil.
Craig: If I remember correctly in part two, he has people like Mrs. Baylock not Mrs Baylock, but other people who are specifically there to protect and guide him and it’s in part two that he is basically informed of who and what he is.
And once, once he’s informed of that, then. He actually starts doing some of these things. Like I didn’t get the impression in this movie that Damien directed any of these things. I didn’t get the impression that he directed his nanny to kill herself, that he directed these animals to attack. These are forces that are happening outside, uh, of him.
And when the giraffes ran away from him, I felt bad.
Todd: He’s going to the giraffes. He seemed happy. They ran away. Aw. But that’s kind of unique. Also thing about this film that is good to point out because there are evil kid movies. There are a lot of them, right. And usually in those movies, it’s that the kid is just pure evil and they’re directing these things and here, everything is just sort of a reaction to his nature and who he is.
Again, I don’t know if, if he knew. Or not, but I agree with you. He probably wasn’t making these things happen, you know, it’s just, it’s just an ominous. It’s, he’s an. He’s an omen of what is the correct
Craig: at this point. And I think that this is intentional. I really started to feel for Catherine because after this bad Boone attack, she is shook. Like she’s feeling weird. She tells her husband that she thinks that she needs to see a psychiatrist. She’s having all of these bad thoughts. Eventually some other stuff happens, but eventually she does go to a psychiatrist and the husband meets with the psychiatrist, which is so quaint and from a different time, like the psychiatrist has to like brief the husband.
Oh yeah. You know, your wife.
Todd: Okay. Everything about it. Breaches all kinds of privacy. And uh, and it’s, it’s your typical psychiatrist explains everything that’s going on. Yeah. That you used to get in movies? Well, this is happening because of blah, blah, blah. And she should do that. And you should do that. And now you make a decision
Craig: what the psychiatrist says that she’s having delusions, she’s having delusions that Damien wants to kill her.
And that she’s not really Damien’s mother. Well, of course, Robert knows that that part of it is true. She’s not his mother. And so then he’s kind of freaked out too. He’s also freaked out because father Brennan appears again and demands a meeting with them and says, if you don’t meet with me, Catherine is going to die.
Um, so he does. Meet with him in the park and then father Brennan quotes revelations with this poem, which if you have studied the Bible at all, you would know right away that this isn’t from the Bible, the Bible isn’t, most of it is not written in verse like this literally poem. When the Jews returned to Zion at a comment’s rips, the sky and the holy Roman empire rises, then you die, must die from the Turners.
See, he rises creating armies on either shore turning mind against his brother to the nine exists. No more. He tells him you need to go to this town megadose or something. Um, and see some old man, I don’t know. But then so, uh, then, uh, Robert leaves and immediately,
Todd: he also says that the reason is that. Oh,
I forgot about
Todd: that. She’s pregnant. And he’s like, what the hell are you talking about? How would you even know that? And you know, she’s not, that’s pretty important. How would
Craig: he even know that? Exactly.
Todd: No tax like this guy is just nuts, right? Like I wouldn’t listen to a thing. This guy was saying either he’s approach is all wrong.
He comes across as the crazy man.
Craig: Yeah. Yeah, totally. The big, the big, uh, big like wind storm with lightning strikes and Brennan runs for a church, like tries to get into a church, but, um, a lightning rod is struck by lightning falls and impales him just as. It looked in those pictures, that image, the image of him, impaled still standing, you know, impaled by this huge pole appears on the front page of the paper because you know, that’s something that a newspaper would put on
Todd: the front page, death scene.
Well, maybe in London, actually, I hear the tablets. They’re quite fierce, I suppose, but this is, this is part of, what’s kind of interesting and quaint about the movie. And also like this can’t be coincidence at this point because this guy just said this thing out of the blue and how would he know? But then when he has his encounter with the wife and she says, she doesn’t want to have any more kids, he says, that’s fine.
And she says, so then you’ll agree to an abortion. And he’s like what she said. Yeah. I just found out this morning that I’m praying. And I don’t want to have the baby. And he’s like, oh my God. You know? So at that point, come on, you know, this, this would be way too coincidental. And this is when he starts to really take this seriously.
And then the psychiatrist explains everything. Seen another thing that makes it so quaint is that the psychiatrist brings this up. He says, yeah, she’s pregnant and all that. And she wants to have the abortion. And, and he says, well, she should, because if she has the baby, it’s gonna, you know, affect her psyche in a terrible way or something like that.
And Robert says, no, I’m definitely not going to do it now because it was foretold that this baby would not live. And so I’m going to make sure that this baby lid, I feel like at this point, And if not, but well, before this, the home movies really about Robert get all the revolves around him, it all concentrates on him.
It follows his train of thought and, and his sort of conversion from just S all this doubt to starting to believe something’s up. And then his investigation of what to do. And again, also at this point, um, while we’ve got one more thing coming up, one more big scene, but, but after that, it’s all just like investigation.
And we sort of leave the family and we leave the city and we leave Damian, and we don’t see Damian again for a while. At that point, it kind of loses some steam, I think, or some, some, some tension,
Craig: arguably on the other hand, I feel like they do move through that stuff pretty quickly, which I appreciate because you’re right.
It is a lot of let’s fly to this city and talk to this person that was fly to this place and look at cemetery. And I mean, it goes by pretty fast, but, uh, before that. When, when Robert says that he will fight for that baby, I feel like the very next scene Damien’s riding around on his tricycle in his room.
And, uh, Mrs. Baylock is, is watching him. Meanwhile, Catherine is cleaning, I guess, or checking on plants or something. Yeah. On a landing on the second floor, and it’s a landing that overlooks the first floor and she has to get at something up high, a planter, a chandelier or something. And so she moves a, like an end table and, and stands on it, which was stupid in the first place.
Todd: This woman’s got other people to do this for her now the first and second of all, why would you do this? Yeah,
Craig: this is Baylock let’s. She likes, she ominously opens the door and Damien goes flying out on his tricycle. And again, to be fair, like he’s furiously pedaling and he’s not even really looking where he’s going.
So I didn’t get the impression that he did this on purpose, but he hits the table that his mother is standing on and she falls over the ledge and lands on what was almost certainly like a marble floor and very easily could have been killed. She’s not, but she’s terribly injured. And, um, she loses the baby.
So you know, that warning that the baby would die, comes to pass because of, you know, Damian and, and Mrs. Baylock I guess. Um, and that scene where she fell. I found this story really interesting. The woman, uh, who plays Katherine Lee Remick refused to do the stunt. And that was largely in part because of the Exorcist and the fact that, uh, Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair were both severely injured, uh, in the making of that movie, doing that.
Stunts largely because William Friedkin, the director was kind of a crazy person. Um, and, and really didn’t take their, uh, safety into consideration, but they both suffered injuries that stayed with them for the rest of their lives. And so Lee Remick didn’t want to do this stunt. So the, the trip over the balcony looked to me like a double, and then they set up a shot where it looks like the camera is following her falling onto the ground.
But really what they did is they recreated the floor on a vertical plane and then just dollied her up to it. And if you know that watching it, you can tell, um, yeah, but if you don’t know, it, it almost looks more like a trick of timing. Um, like they just maybe slowed the film down a little bit as she was falling.
I actually really. That scene. Oh, it’s
Todd: fantastic. Well, I love the cinematography of this, and I also liked how the first thing to land is to is the fishbowl, which shatters and leaves the fish out there. And, oh gosh, you know, there’s just so many cool artistic things you can do that makes something seem more violent and horrible without showing it.
But there’s something about that. Fishbowl shattering the, the water spring out in those fish, lying there just before she follows it. You know, it’s just a real audio and visceral and visual kind of representation of a body splattering. You know, it’s quite beautiful. Uh, and, and shocking and spooky. And the movie is great at that.
I mean, there’s really well, there’s one scene in here. That’s, that’s a bit gory, but other than that, the deaths that happened, you know, there’s not really anybody blood, very
Craig: little, there’s a little bit of blood, like on. Uh, Catherine’s shirt here. And I feel like maybe a few drops of blood come out of her mouth out of her mouth.
Yeah, there there’s very, very little blood, uh, at all in the whole movie. When Robert visits her in the hostel. I think all she can say to him is don’t let him kill me. She believes that Damian is trying to kill her, which whether he consciously is, or not, it’s clear that her life very much is in danger.
And then the photographer, Keith calls Rob, and brings him over to his studio where he shows him the photographs of Brennan with the pole through him. Um, but also he had caught a picture of the nanny before she had been killed. And there’s a suggestion of a rope around her neck. Robert’s like, oh, okay, well, I’m going to go investigate this or whatever.
And Keith’s like, I’m coming too. And Robert’s like, well, this doesn’t have anything to do with you. And Keith says, uh, yeah, does. And he shows him a picture of himself. He caught by accident, a photograph of himself in a mirror and there is something going through him. So, um, like you said, they go. Little investigative journey.
They, they visit the hospital where Damian was born, but the original structure burned down five years ago, right after Damien was born and it’s been replaced with a new building, but all of the records have been destroyed. The only remaining link is the head priest survived the fire. He was severely injured, but he survived the fire.
He’s now in a monastery. So then they have to go to the monastery,
Todd: leave the hospital. They have this conversation with this nun slash nurse or whatever in this thing. And while they’re in the hallway talking to her, there’s this thing. Like moving up constantly moving up and down behind. And the wall looks like a dumbwaiter or something.
I’m like, what in the hell is that? That they finished talking to her and she’s like, okay, well, I’ll see you later. She turns around and back, it’s end into this thing and it lifts her up. And I was like, I know what in the hell is that? And I looked it up and this is a real thing. This is called up. Have you heard of this?
Craig: but it was really cool.
Todd: It isn’t continuously running elevator. It looks like one of the most dangerous things in the world. Yes. It’s called a pattern Oster lift. And apparently they stopped constructing new ones, like in the mid seventies, out of concern for people’s safety. Very good. But, but it’s just like a con like a lift on chain, like a big loop, which just a whole bunch of elevator cars that are constantly coming down on one end.
And then, you know that next to it, that, that side’s going up. And when you want to get on or off, you just step onto it. When that comes down. As it’s coming down and then you want to get off of it. You just step off of it as it approaches the floor.
Craig: Crazy cool. But it did look very dangerous
Todd: were way too.
Cool. Look it up. I went down some serious rabbit holes on YouTube and Wikipedia on this pattern, Oster lift. I’m not going to lie just from this seat in this movie crazy
Craig: before they visit the priests, they sit down and have a discussion and they talk about the prophecy that Brennan had read, supposedly from the book of revelations, even though it’s not really, as it turns out all of these things.
That they say it has something to do with Israel and a comment and like everything has happened. And it says, when these things happen, the devil will rise out of the eternal sea and they can’t figure out what the eternal C means. But, uh, Keith finally figures out that I guess biblical scholars have said that the eternal sea is the world of politics because it’s constantly turbulent and whatever.
So the, the son of, of the devil will rise out of the world of politics, which, which fits perfectly because, you know, thorn is high level politics. He has aspirations to be president. So it all lines up. They go to the monastery, the priest is there. He’s badly burned, but he’s a. Able to write that the child’s mother is in service day or something, which is a cemetery.
So they go to the cemetery and they find the grave of a woman who died on Damien’s birthday, buried right next to Bambino Schiano or whatever that died on that day. And when they open the quote-unquote mother’s grave, it’s an animal we’ve, it’s, it’s a Jackal. I don’t know if you could tell that just by seeing the skeleton, but that’s what it’s supposed to be.
And then they also open the baby’s grave because, uh, Robert says if it’s empty, that may mean that my child is still out there somewhere, but when they open it, there is the skeleton of a baby in there, but its skull has been crushed. So they come to understand that, um, the Thorne’s baby. Died. It had been killed.
This had been, you know, part of the plan to get Damien into their care. Their, their baby had been killed. They’re attacked by rottweilers. Um, but they get away Robert calls Kathy and tells her to leave London right away. And so she starts getting ready, but as she’s getting ready, they lock appears right behind her and pushes her out of the hospital window.
And she’s, I don’t know, probably eight stories in the air. And so she’s dead, which poor lady, she didn’t do anything.
Todd: No, I feel horrible about that. And the next scene is Robert getting the call, and this is a one-shot take on him and it’s long and it’s painful. His acting is incredible. And you just see this man’s face, just what it would be like to get a phone call that someone you love is dead.
He’s an amazing actor. He’s just really, really pulled that off. You know, I read that Gregory Peck, his son had committed suicide just a couple of years before this. And he felt like he hadn’t been around for him. And apparently was racked with quite a bit of guilt. And the producer sent him the script kind of hesitantly.
I mean, realizing they were sending them a script about, you know, a fathers might have to kill a son. Also that may be the reason why he accepted the role is just to kind of play that out and kind of come to terms with it and maybe at least be able to pull from that experience, uh, for the role. And so he did and, and it’s it’s whatever, wherever it comes from, he’s a talented actor regardless, but it’s, it’s a brilliant performance.
It’s just so, so good. And I saw that the script was offered to like Dick van Dyke and yeah.
Craig: Regretted turning it down. Can you imagine Dick van Dyke God, I mean, what, how interesting that would have been, I’ve never seen him in a serious role like this, but who knows? He’s a very talented actor to
Todd: pull it off anyway.
Yeah. So, um, so that was incredible. And then I think I was reading the trivia that, that he had a disagreement with Richard Donner that during this, um, he wanted. Throw things around the room and kind of go nuts when he got the call and Richard Donner, like, no, I want you to do it this way. And he says, no, you’re wrong.
You’re wrong. Well, finally, when he got the dailies and they both sat down and looked at him, Gregory Peck, conceited, that a no, actually you were right. This was exactly the way to do the scene. And it’s, it’s followed by another wonderful scene where he’s just laying down on the bed and he’s just staring off into space.
And the is just slowly, very slowly dialing in on him. Again, one shot and the photographer at some point comes and sits down next to the bed, kind of in the background. And he’s chatting with him about the prophecy and all that. Robert just says, um, Kathy
Craig: is dead. I want Damien to die too.
Craig: God. I know that’s crazy.
Like he’s losing everything and realizing it and you see it with the loss. There’s also anger. Like he’s clearly embraced that Damien Damien is the cause of this. And at this point it’s about not revenge necessarily, but justice, uh, maybe, I don’t know, but he wants Damien dead. So they go to Megento and visit with a priest who gives Robert the seven special daggers.
And he instructs them. Like, you have to kill them with this. You have to stab him with this one first and that will take his human life. But then you have to stab him with all these others in this particular way to like destroy his spirit
Todd: on an altar in a church.
Craig: Yeah. Yeah. It’s gotta be unhallowed ground and they leave.
And then all of a sudden he has, uh, Robert has a crisis of conscious. He says, I can’t do this. I can’t kill him. And he throws the daggers and cases will, if you aren’t going to do it, I’ll do it. And he goes, and he grabs the daggers. And as he’s bending over to pick them up, as he standing back up this truck, carrying enormous plates of glass backs up and like hit something and the plate of glass shoots out and decapitation.
Keith and his head goes fly for a while
Todd: for a
Craig: while, but still no blood. No, like it’s just a separate head. Like no blood and David Warner kept that head forever and then lost it in his divorce, which I think is
Todd: so funny.
Craig: Oh gosh. That’s
Todd: so funny. I also read that, um, the way that Donna edit, you know, had that edited was purposely so that when people close their eyes, so they wouldn’t have to see the decapitation that, but by the time they opened them again, the head would still be flying through the air. Yeah, it’s cool.
Craig: cool. I enjoyed it. So Robert flies home. Gets back to his house. He traps the Rottweiler in the basement. He looks for the 6 66, the mark of the beast symbolizes the unholy Trinity of, of the devil, the antichrist and the false prophet. He’s attacked by bay lock and they fight for a while, but he ends up killing her pretty brutally end.
He takes Damien and he throws Damien in the car and speeds off. And the police are immediately in pursuit, I guess, because he is, you know, an ambassador he’s an important, you know, maybe there’s security around all the time. And when they see him speeding away, they think something must be going on. So they’re in immediate pursuit.
He takes Damien to a church and takes them up to the alter and goes to kill him, lifts up the first dagger. And this moment goes by really fast, but I felt like it was very kind of poignant to where Damian bay. For his life and, and calls him daddy like daddy, please. Don’t like, I can understand why that would cause Robert to hesitate, but he’s going to do it anyway.
But before he can do it, he’s shot by police and killed. And the next thing we see is the funeral. And it’s suggested that Damien is going to be adopted by the United States president and, and they’re standing there. All the, the president, the first lady and Damian are all standing there looking at the grave with their back to the camera.
And then Damien turns around, looks directly into camera and smiles, a very wicked kind of smile. And, and Doner had tricked him into doing that. He had been like, don’t, you dare laugh. Don’t you dare laugh. And so he got this sly smile out of him and it looks great. Poor
Todd: little kid. Right. But he hasn’t had any other roles, basically just this.
And probably he was a bit of a Hallean on the set, but a diner had hired them because during the casting process, he’d had all, a bunch of kids run up to him and say, all right, now, now attack me, you know, act like you’re gonna attack me. And he was particularly vicious. And so he was like, dye his hair black and put some black contact lenses in his eyes to make it more sinister.
And he’s going to be the guy. And like
Craig: you said, he’s not in it very much. He maybe has two or three lines. Like he barely talks. He just kind of sits in the background most of the time, but he’s creepy, you know? Uh, and good. I also read that initially in the script and they may even shot this. Um, the whole family was supposed to die.
Right. Was successful in killing Damien and then was killed by police. But I don’t know if just ultimately they decided, or if they did test screenings and they just decided that it was too grim. So instead of it being too grim with them all dying, they let the devil win, like, I guess ends less grim.
Todd: Well, maybe they also figured, I mean, you can’t really kill the devil.
Right. So a true,
Craig: and, and I, I don’t know if they were anticipating well, that’s the thing. I don’t know if they were anticipating SQLs with the gravitas of Gregory Peck. You know, I, I suppose there was probably some, um, potential there. And, and there were sequels and I do vaguely. Remember the second one. I remember the second one being gorier than the first one.
And I remember liking it. I never saw the third one, the third one stars, Sam Neill as an adult Damon, rising to power, but I believe that he’s killed at the end. And that’s the original trilogy. There was later a, uh, third seal that was made for television and it was intended to be the first of a series of new sequels.
And it wasn’t Damien, but rather somehow Damien had fathered a child or something, and his line was going to continue. Now, I actually did see the fourth one and it was bad. It’s a bad movie, but I saw it when I was a kid. So I kind of remember enjoying it, but. If you seek it out, just I’m telling you, be aware it’s bad.
Todd: Isn’t there a series now, or wasn’t there a couple of years ago, a TV
Craig: series was there. Yeah, and I didn’t watch it, but, uh, I think it got pretty good reviews, but it didn’t last very long. Um, but the movie really is considered a horror classic, and I understand why it’s well-made and, and there are very, very good performances and it’s an interesting story.
It moves, you know, it’s almost two hours long, but yes, there’s that little bit of a lull there at the end where they’re doing the investigating, but I never felt that it was slow. I will admit that I turned it off when there was about a half an hour left and took a nap. Yeah. And came
Todd: back to it. You’re hilarious.
Uh, it really moved. I wouldn’t say it was slow. I will admit though I did take a nap at one. I was tired. I fully refreshed and ready to tackle it again. I, I felt like it was a little boring, to be honest. I don’t demand that all my horror movies be slam bang action Fest, you know, they don’t have to be, but I didn’t also feel that just impending sense of dread.
I felt like there were a number of things that happened, um, and they were kind of spaced out and paced out and they were horrifying to be sure, but. Then it kind of slogs, I think when it gets to investigation and going out and we just kind of leave Damien entirely. And, and when you just sort of forget about your main threat and you’re just in the background, whereas the protagonists of the story are able to go out and jet set around the world to figure out a mystery and what to do.
Eh, I don’t know. I just, I found a little boring maybe also, because of seeing a lot of movies like this or the movies that have a lot of these elements in it. So it’s not particularly novel. I was a little disappointed in the film to be honest, but not because it’s not a well-made film, not because it it’s not overall compelling and interesting.
Uh, it just, I just felt like you could have shaved about a half hour off of it maybe. And. Made it better, in my opinion, in my opinion. Now, now it’s interesting that Jerry Goldsmith, we didn’t even talk about the score, the score, the score is great. And Jerry Goldsmith, um, who had been, you know, scoring movies well before this and, and beyond, and is a fantastic composer.
This was his first and only academy award. And he almost didn’t go to the ceremony because he’s just kinda like been nominated on site. Yeah, and never wanted, and he got it for this one. So that was pretty good.
Craig: And it’s great. Play a little bit of it somewhere, cause it’s really good. And even, even if you haven’t seen this movie, I bet you’ve heard this somewhere.
It’s it’s really familiar.
and it’s very ominous. They went way over budget to get him because I don’t know if it was Donner or the producers or, or who they really felt that they needed to establish the tone and atmosphere. And they really thought they could do it with this, with his score. And they were right. I think without this score, it would be lacking.
In in some way. And you know, we
Todd: had briefly mentioned the cinematography and you thought it was fairly pedestrian and I can see why. I think a lot of the movie is a little pedestrian and so there’s really no need for flashy cinematography. But I think in those moments, like with the horrifying things that do happen or the moments where things are just a little more tense and suspenseful, actually, I think the cinematography gets pretty brilliant.
You know, I’m thinking about when he comes back to the house and he’s, he’s, you know, looking for Damien and. He’s about to kill him. And he has to face off with the dog and the woman and everything. And I thought that was particularly well shot with some great camera angles. Donner had talked cinematographer, Gilbert Taylor out of retirement to do this movie, Gilbert Taylor.
And this had had a long history of a hundred, a hundred plus movies before this. Um, and of course the movie was a big hit and Taylor went on to be the cinematographer for star wars, the first star wars the year after this. So, uh, that turned out to be. Pretty smart move. And then he continued on for a few more.
I found it interesting that, um, Richard Donner, I guess I just hadn’t occurred to me, but a lot of the movies that he did was were with Mel Gibson, Maverick, which gosh, I love that movie. Of course, he started working with him on lethal weapon. I was kinda surprised. And Mel Gibson had some very nice things to say about him called him uncle Donnie or something like that and, and said that he was just a wonderful guy who, when he directed a movie.
This hard-ass guy who just demanded everything we’d done his way, but he would say, okay, you know, let’s try it your way and see what happens. You know, always kind of imagining that maybe the actor could bring something to the table. He wasn’t expecting and gave them the freedom to
Craig: do that. He seemed cool.
He seemed like a cool guy. You know, this one, even though, you know, he lived a nice long life. Yeah. So people die, it happens, but this one hit kind of hard because you know, some of his movies, particularly the Goonies and screws are two of my favorite movies, period. I just, I, and, and there’s such a touchstone of my childhood.
Um, I was really sad and Donna just seemed like a cool guy. I’ve seen a lot of behind the scenes stuff, uh, about the Goonies and seen a lot of photographs and video. And it, it really seems like he was, those kids loved him. Mm
Todd: it’s. Like a father to them or something. Yeah.
Craig: Yeah. And it just seemed like it was, you know, an amazing experience for them.
He also, you know, another thing I like about Donna is he cameos and a lot of his own movies and he cameos in other horror movies. We’ve seen him, Cammie, we we’ve made note of his cameos and some of the horror movies that we’ve done. Um, so he just seems. You know, from an outsider’s perspective, who knows?
I didn’t know the man, but from an outsider’s perspective, he just seemed like a cool guy. And, uh, you know, he had been in kind of failing health, but 91 and he hadn’t done anything for a while, but yeah, as recently as last year, he had, you know, spoken publicly about his desire to. Direct a fifth lethal weapon.
He wasn’t ready to stop, but old age gets you in. And that happens. But, you know, as, as I usually end up saying left behind an amazing legacy and will be remembered fondly in the world of filmmaking for a very long time, I think, and for many of us growing up in the eighties and nineties, we will, uh, carry those very fond memories of, of, uh, his work for a very long time.
Todd: Well, thank you again for listening to another episode. If you enjoyed it, please share this with a friend. You can find us online just by Googling two guys and a chainsaw podcast where our Facebook page should pop up. Along with our regular website, two firstname.lastname@example.org and our Twitter feed. Just leave us a comment or a message on any one of those venues.
Let us know what you thought of this episode. Give us some advice for episodes that we should do in the future until that time. I’m Todd and I’m Craig with two guys and a chainsaw .
- toddkuhns on Don’t Open Til Christmas
- Leeia on Don’t Open Til Christmas
- Alec Bolas on Monster House
- Alec Bolas on Home Movie
- toddkuhns on Monster House
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.