Top 10 Films’ Classic Scenes goes back to 1976 for a special celebration of actor Gregory Peck in association with FlixChatter.net
I will immediately issue a spoiler warning for this post as it concerns a classic scene that appears right at the end of Richard Donner’s brilliantly unnerving and absolutely captivating horror film The Omen. This little post was created in celebration of the great Gregory Peck who is enjoying a whole series of posts about his life and work thanks to FlixChatter.net which is hosting an online event to commemorate the work of one of Hollywood’s true icons.
The Omen was one of the first horror films I remember seeing. Thanks to Richard Donner’s wonderfully macabre concept, energetic pacing and penchant for graphic violence, the film duly scared the living crap out of me. But the film wouldn’t have been half as good without the inspired casting of child actor Harvey Stephens and of course the gravitas brought by Hollywood legend Gregory Peck. In a film conceived as fantasy, Peck’s controlled charisma and long-established persona brought unreality into the real world. He effectively made the imaginative horror a tangible horror that could bite through the screen.
The Omen is one of the best horror films of the 1970s. Peck plays Robert Thorn, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. When his wife loses her baby at birth, Thorn is persuaded to switch the baby with another whose mother died the same night. Unbeknownst to Thorn’s wife, she is given the child as if it were her own and she raises it unaware that her real child is dead. But strange occurrences take place such as Thorn’s son, who is named Damien, seeing his nanny commit suicide by hanging herself during a birthday celebration. Thorn believes he switched the babies with the best interests at heart – he feared his wife may suffer mental trauma given the death of her baby so decides to hide the truth from her. But now he regrets his decision and it quickly becomes apparent that Damien is no human child. When Thorn’s wife dies, he suspects Damien orchestrated it. He finds help in an archaeologist who tells him that if Damien has a small birthmark that appears to look like three sixes then it confirms he is the son of the Devil. Thorn goes home and finds the birthmark buried beneath Damien’s hair.
The archaeologist gave Thorn the seven daggers of Megiddo – the only weapons that can kill Damien. Thorn drives the boy to the local church and is about to destroy the Antichrist when police burst through the doors and shoot Thorn dead. The end of the film sees Damien smiling at the camera during his “father’s” funeral. The Omen’s ending is one of the most powerful in horror film history.
Written by Daniel Stephens
To find out more about Gregory Peck, check out Flix Chatter’s celebration of his work.