‘The Omen Collection’ Blu-ray Review
‘The Omen’ franchise has to be probably one of the all-time creepiest film franchises that I have ever watched. I will never forget how much the original ‘The Omen’ freaked me out due to the fact that growing up I heard all kind of stories about the anti-christ. To this day, anytime I see the sign of the beast 666, I will due what I can to change that number. When I worked retail in my younger years, if $6.66 rung up on the register, I would have some customers purposely add an item to get the number of the beast off their total. October 2008 is great for the Blu-ray format as we are finally getting classic horror titles that have been missing from the high definition format.
The original ‘The Omen’ released in 1976 bringing in $48 million dollars at the box office with a $2.8 million dollar budget. ‘The Omen’ franchise is based off of the biblical writings that the anti-christ would come to wreak all hell on earth one day when we would least expect it. In ‘The Omen’, Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck), who is a wealthy politician, has been trying with his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) to have a child. When Katherine finally does get pregnant, she ends up delivering a still born baby. Robert has an opportunity to adopt a baby that he can pass off to his wife as if it were their child so it doesn’t hurt her anymore than she already is.
The Thorns would move to Britain once Robert is appointed as ambassador. This is where things start to go awry for the Thorn family as Damien Thorn (Harvey Stephens) is now five years old. All kinds of strange things start happening, their nanny commits suicide in front of everyone at Damien’s party, there is a demon dog that appears which takes Damien’s side, the priest ends up dying from a freak accident, another priest goes blind as he tries to pray for the family, and then a new nanny Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw) appears at the doorstep. Not all goes well for the Thorns.
In 1978, Hollywood decides that a sequel needs to be made with ‘Damien: Omen II’. ‘The Omen II’ would not be as successful at the theater as the original, but it would bring in roughly $24 million dollars at the box office. What happens with the sequel is that for the most part, we have a very similar story as the original. Except in the sequel, there are a lot more people from the beginning of the film that know Damien is the son of the devil. The story begins with Richard Thorn (William Holden), brother of Robert Thorn from the original film has taken in his nephew Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) living now in Chicago. Again here, we have Richard Thorn not listening to the signs that his nephew is the anti-christ. At the beginning of the film we do see Damian’s face at the archeological temple that he is the anti-christ. Damien’s military school teacher Sergeant Neff (Lance Henriksen) has more involvement than what we are led to believe.
Three years later in 1981, ‘The Omen III: The Final Conflict’ would be released at the box office with a $20 million dollar gross. This third act hurt the franchise even more than the second one did. Damien Thorn is now an adult (Sam Neill), and he has realized all his powers and what his destiny is as the anti-christ. There has been born another child, which is a Christ-child which would be the seconding coming of Jesus as told in biblical prophecy. Damien is 32 years old in the film and according to prophecy, Damien would rein hell on earth at 33 years old. Damien is head of Thorn Industries, yet many of his employees know of his secret. We are introduced to the seven Daggers of Megiddo, which find their way to seven Italian priests that are the ones which are going to kill the anti-christ.
While Damien tries to use his influence as the U.S. Ambassador, he meets a British journalist Kate Reynolds (Lisa Harrow), and her teenage son Peter (Barnaby Holm). Damien uses Peter as part of his Satanic Army to kill all the male children that are suspected to be the Christ-child. Then add Father DeCarlo (Rosanno Brazzi) and the other priests equipped with the Daggers of Megiddo that I mentioned earlier are hot on his trail.
Thirty years later, Hollywood hot on their trail of making remake after remake has decided to remake the original ‘The Omen 666’ in 2006 which is also known as ‘The Omen 666’. The film would make $54 million dollars at the box office with a $25 million dollar budget. The remake is almost fairly similar to the 1976 original with several changes made to the script. The story is the same for Robert (Live Schreiber) and Katherine Thorn (Julia Styles) in this remake with a few changes to our main characters. Young Damien (Seamus Fitzpatrick) is just as chilling looking as Stephens was in the original. The only problem with this film is that it is not as creepy as the original, but it isn’t as bad as others have made it to be.
The packaging for this film has to be some of the worst packaging since the day that ‘Battlestar Gallactica’ Season 1 HD DVD was released with the worst packaging on the face of this earth. With ‘The Omen Collection’ we have DVD style multi-disc cardboard packaging that the discs are held by rubber tabs which have already fallen off of my cardboard packaging. It will be time to go to the drawing board and make my own cases for this release.
The picture quality of all four films on Blu-ray is fairly good, albeit the quality varying from each film. ‘The Omen I-III’ is presented in 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfers, while ‘The Omen 666’ is presented via a 1080p AVC MPEG-2 transfer. The audio for ‘The Omen’ trilogy and remake are presented in a DTS-HD MA lossless mix. I found the mix to vary from each release, only getting better with each one of the films in the trilogy based on the sound effects used at that time.
With the latest ‘The Omen 666’ transfer aside since it is based off of a modern film, the original ‘The Omen’ looks best based off of the trilogy. FOX engineers have done a good job cleaning up the print, but there is also grain still apparent throughout the film. While the grain is nowhere near the DVD version, it is still there. Colors are also very vibrant on this transfer. Details are also very good throughout the entire film. Jerry Goldsmith’s score takes center stage here in the original film as it does a good job with the surrounds but an even better job with the front setup. I can understand that since this is a film from 1976 and Mono 2.0 was the original sound presentation. Dialogue comes through the center channel very clear and crisp.
‘Damien: Omen II’ transfer is a bit of a mixed bag compared to the rest of the films included in this set. One of the issues that I have is that the grain is rather inconsistent throughout. There are times at the beginning of the film where grain gets a little bit heavier and then it evens out. The colors don’t pop off the screen like they did in the original ‘The Omen’ transfer. There were several scenes which were out of focus killing the detail right before it hits that out of focus frame. There were a few white specs of dirt at the beginning of the film, but weren’t as noticeable. I am not too sure what happened here with this print. But all hope is not lost since when none of these other issues occur, the print does look good for lengthy stretches. Details when they are prevalent with the print really shine, for example look at the feathers on any of the crows.
With ‘Damien: Omen II’ sound takes a small hit as Goldsmith’s score doesn’t shine like it did in the original. I felt like the rears were used even less than what they were in the first film. I didn’t have an issue with dialogue and was able to make out quite well as to the voice work. Like the video quality, it makes you wonder why this film did get the shaft.
‘The Omen III’ has one of the better prints, yet there are a few issues which again makes the original film the best of the trilogy from a visual standpoint. I found the colors to be very vibrant and popping off of the screen more than the other 2 films. The boldness of color in this film with the addition of fine detail really helps make ‘The Omen III’ stand out. There is grain throughout the film and it is apparent. Grain doesn’t bother me unless it is on the heavy side becoming obtrusive. There is an issue with artifacts throughout the print. I am a bit disappointed that the artifacts weren’t cleaned up. ‘The Omen III’ has a better soundfield as all speakers were working throughout the film, while the fronts were getting the most workouts. The sound effects were also coming through rather clear. I found the dialogue to be rather clear and crisp.
‘The Omen 666’ holds the better transfer out of the bunch due to age, but not necessarily due to remastering. This is still the same 1080p/MPEG-2 transfer from when the film was released during Blu-ray’s infancy stage. Colors are vibrant and strong throughout the film while also sporting some fine details. You do see a noise filter throughout that could be easily mistaken for film grain. On the audio front, the mix is not as involving as we would expect, but we do get sound effects coming through the rears at a much louder rate than the original trilogy. The Dialogue was rather clear and making out what the actors said wasn’t an issue.
This collection is loaded with features from all 4 films included, yet FOX does skimp a bit on both ‘Omen II’ and ‘Omen III’. While the original ‘The Omen’ receives the most special features out of the entire set.
- Richard Donner on The Omen interview featurette
- The Omen Revelations BonusView with Trivia Track
- Commentary by film historians Lem Dobbs, Nick Redman and Jeff Bond
- Isolated score track (Dolby Surround 5.1 audio)
- Introduction by director Richard Donner
- Commentary by director Richard Donner and editor Stuart Baird
- Commentary by director Richard Donner and screenwriter Brian Helgeland
- “Dog Attack” Deleted Scene with optional commentary by director Richard Donner and screenwriter Brian Helgeland
- 666: The Omen Revealed featurette
- The Omen Legacy featurette
- Curse or Coincidence? featurette
- An Appreciation: Wes Craven On The Omen featurette
- Jerry Goldsmith on The Omen Score featurette
- Screenwriters Notebook featurette
- Theatrical trailer
- Still gallery
Damien: Omen II
- Commentary by producer Harvey Bernhard
- Theatrical trailer
Omen III: The Final Conflict
- Commentary by director Graham Baker
- Theatrical trailer
The Omen (2006)
- The Devil’s Footnotes Trivia Track
- Commentary with director John Moore, producer Glen Williamson and editor Dan Zimmerman
- Revelations 666 featurette
- Abbey Road Sessions
I highly recommend ‘The Omen Collection’ as this is a great package from FOX. While the sequels and remake are nowhere near as good as the original, this is one fine package. The only film missing from this set which is available on the DVD set is ‘The Omen IV’ which is available in the DVD box set.
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