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Published: 2008-10-26 - 22:23:35
Blu-ray Disc and DVD : Blu-ray Disc Reviews

The Omen Collection on Blu-ray Disc Review

By Brandon A. DuHamel
The Films

The Omen (1976), Damien: Omen II, Omen III: The Final Conflict plus the 2006 remake of The Omen all have at the center of their story biblical references to the Book of Revelation and the coming of the Antichrist. Starting off with The Omen, a U.S. Ambassador to England, Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) and his wife, Katherine Thorn (Lee Remick), begin to suspect their son Damien (Harvey Stevens) is the spawn of Satan, the Antichrist, who will bring forth the apocalypse and the destruction of mankind. At first Robert Thorn, when confronted by a crazed, devil-possessed priest (Patrick Troughton) with this shocking news doesn't believe it, but events begin to happen surrounding Damien that raise his suspicions and he begins to investigate further with the help of a photojournalist by the name of Jennings (David Warner).

In The Omen, the pace is slow and meticulous, with far less gore than one might expect. Having only a budget of just over $2 million to work with, director Richard Donner was forced to work more with story and character than special effects. The resulting film is one that is more psychologically driven than blatantly horrifying in the true sense of the genre.

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Moving on from there, the two sequels follow Damien through different stages of his life, but neither one comes  close to being as good as the first. Damien: Omen II finds Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) 13 years old and in military academy, under the guardianship of his aunt, Ann Thorn (Lee Grant) and uncle Robert Thorn (William Holden). Damien finally becomes truly aware of who and what he is as a legion of followers and servants begin to reveal themselves and Damien begins to consciously use his powers at will, most destructively.  Damien: Omen II skirts the psychological character studies and delving into biblical theory in favor of more carnage as the body count truly piles up from beginning to end while more graphic violence is shown than in The Omen.

Omen III: The Final Conflict sees Damien, now played by Sam Neil, at the age of 34 and at the head of the Thorn family corporation. Damien has become known worldwide as a philanthropist, and is heralded as helping to avert a worldwide food crisis. However, the real story is that Damien is awaiting the rebirth of Christ in order to kill him and place himself and his father, Satan, in control over all mankind. Omen III is by far the worst film of the three "classic" Omen films and offers no scare whatsoever.

The Omen (2006) requires no description, as its story is completely taken from the original, nearly scene-for-scene, with very slight changes in dialogue and locations. It's one of those remakes that begs the question -- why? It's completely unnecessary. The only thing that saves The Omen (2006) is its bigger budget and slightly more frightening general atmosphere, but other than that, it's a throw away film.

The Picture

Fox has done a good job a fairly decent job restoring the classic Omen film and its sequels for this collection. Each film looks free from damages caused by age such as dust and scratches yet each also retains a fine level of grain.  Across all three of the classic films, the look of the production remains consistent, with natural flesh tones and a consistent color palette. The Omen remake has the most stylized look of the bunch, as one might expect, and its much higher budget and more recent vintage offers the best looking picture of the group.  

All three classic films are transferred at 1080p/24 in AVC/MPEG-4 encodings of their original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.  The 2006 remake of The Omen appears in the same MPEG-2 encoding from its previously available Blu-ray release.

Neither of the films shows any compression artifacts and is relatively well detailed, although The Omen (1976) and each of its sequels does appear slightly soft with somewhat washed out blacks and flat colors that do not pop from the screen. Overall, however, none of the transfers is disappointing and most will be satisfied with the quality.

The Sound

All four films come with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless mixes. Unsurprisingly, the 2006 remake of The Omen has the liveliest mix of the group with good bass extension and aggressive use of the surrounds. The three classic films remain front-heavy, with occasional opening up of the soundfield with aggressive ambience during the more active scenes, but far less discrete than The Omen (2006). Each film has clear dialogue and good dynamics. The best sounding of the group is The Omen (2006), but they are all well done.

In addition to the lossless 5.1 mixes, The Omen (1976) and Damien: Omen II also come with their original theatrical English Mono mixes. Omen III includes its original Dolby Surround theatrical mix as well, so all fans of the films can view them while listening to their authentic, unaltered sound mixes.

The Extras

The extras are barebones across the board on each disc and limited to audio commentaries for each three classic films, a trailer for Omen III and two featurettes on The Omen (2006). By far the most interesting audio commentary is the very first with Richard Donner and editor Stuart Baird on The Omen (1976), but each commentary is the typical "we took this shot this way" or " I remember wanting to do so and so" sort of thing. In the absence of any other supplements, however, your only way to discovering more about these releases is through the audio commentaries.

The extras available on this release are:

  • The Omen (2006)
    • Audio Commentary with Richard Donner and Stuart Baird
  • Damien: Omen II
    • Commentary by Producer Harvey Bernhard
  • Omen III: The Final Conflict
    • Commentary by Director Graham Baker
    • Theatrical Trailer (4:3/standard definition)
  • The Omen (2006)
    • Commentary by John Moore, Glenn Williamson & Dan Zimmerman
    • Abbey Road Sessions (4:3/windowboxed/standard definition) -- Marco Beltrami's dark, chilling score is discussed and scenes of the recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios are shown.
    • Revelation 666 (4:3/standard definition) -- Television special delving into the book of revelation and interpretations of the significance and meaning of the number 666.
Final Thoughts

None of The Omen films is excepionally frightening, particularly by today's standards. Their ever-increasing tangle of convoluted biblical interpretations only means that with each sequel, the story gets more and more ridiculous and unbelievable. The 2006 remake of the original comes more stylized and slightly more quick-paced, but it is ultimately redundant given its nearly complete scene-for-scene replication of the 1976 film, but with inferior acting in the part of Robert Thorn. The transfers offered herein for the original film and its sequel, however, are strong and fans of the films will be delighted to see them looking so good after all these years.

Where to Buy

Product Details

  • Actors: Gregory Peck, William Holden, Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Lee Remick
  • Directors: John Moore, Richard Donner, Don Taylor, Graham Baker
  • Audio/Languages: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Surround, English, French, and Spanish Mono, French & Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rating: R
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Blu-ray Disc Release Date: October 7, 2008
  • Run Time: 436 minutes
  • List Price: $129.98
  • Extras:
    • Audio Commentaries
    • Abbey Road Sessions
    • Revelation 666

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