The Omen

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The Omen
Omen ver4.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Tom Jung
Directed byRichard Donner
Produced byHarvey Bernhard
Written byDavid Seltzer
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyGilbert Taylor
Edited byStuart Baird
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 6, 1976 (1976-06-06) (UK)
  • June 25, 1976 (1976-06-25) (US)
Running time
111 minutes
  • United Kingdom[1]
  • United States[1]
Budget$2.8 million[2]
Box office$60.9 million (United States and Canada)[3]

The Omen is a 1976 American-British supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner, written by David Seltzer, and starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Troughton, Martin Benson, and Leo McKern. Its plot follows Damien Thorn, a young child replaced at birth by an American ambassador unbeknownst to his wife, after their biological child dies shortly after birth. As a series of mysterious events and violent deaths occur around the family and Damien enters childhood, they come to learn he is in fact the prophesied Antichrist.

Released theatrically by 20th Century Fox in June 1976, The Omen received mixed reviews from critics but was a commercial success, grossing over $60 million at the U.S. box office and becoming one of the highest-grossing films of 1976. The film earned two Oscar nominations, and won for Best Original Score for Jerry Goldsmith, his only Oscar win. A scene from the film appeared at #16 on Bravo's The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The film spawned a franchise, starting with Damien: Omen II, released two years later, followed by a third installment, Omen III: The Final Conflict, in 1981, and in 1991 with Omen IV: The Awakening. A remake was released in 2006.


In Rome, American diplomat Robert Thorn is in a hospital where his wife Katherine gives birth to a boy. Robert is told the infant died. Moments later, the hospital chaplain, Father Spiletto, urges Robert to secretly adopt an infant whose mother died in childbirth. Robert agrees, but does not inform Katherine that the child is not their own. They name him Damien.

Five years later, when Damien is a young child, Robert is appointed United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Soon after, mysterious events plague the Thorns; a large rottweiler appears near the Thorn home; Damien's nanny hangs herself during his fifth birthday party; a mysterious new nanny, Mrs. Baylock, arrives unannounced; Damien violently resists entering a church; and Damien's presence terrifies animals. Katherine increasingly fears Damien and distances herself from him. Father Brennan, a Catholic priest, warns Robert about Damien's mysterious origins, hinting he is not human. He later tells Robert that Katherine is pregnant and Damien will prevent the child's birth. Afterward, Brennan is fatally impaled by a spire thrown from a church roof during a sudden storm. Katherine subsequently tells Robert she is pregnant and wants an abortion.

Learning of Father Brennan's death, photographer Keith Jennings investigates Damien. He notices shadows in photographs of the nanny and of Father Brennan that seem to presage their bizarre deaths. A photo of Keith himself shows the same shadow across his neck. Keith shows Robert the photos and tells him he also believes that Damien is a threat. While Robert is away, Damien knocks Katherine over an upstairs railing to the floor below, seriously injuring her and causing her to miscarry.

Keith accompanies Robert to Rome to investigate Damien's birth parents. They learn a fire destroyed maternity records in the hospital years prior, and that the fire killed most of the staff on duty. They eventually trace Father Spiletto to a monastery in Subiaco, where they find him mute, blind in one eye, and partly paralyzed. Spiletto writes the name of an ancient Etruscan cemetery in Cerveteri, where Damien's biological mother is buried. Robert and Keith enter the cemetery at night, and find a jackal carcass in Damien's mother's grave; in the plot next to it is a child's skeleton with a shattered skull. Robert realizes that the jackal is Damien's inhuman mother, and that the child in the plot next to her is his own murdered son, killed so Damien could take his place.

Keith reiterates Father Brennan's belief that Damien is the Antichrist, whose coming is supported by a conspiracy of Satanists. A pack of wild Rottweilers drives Robert and Keith out of the cemetery. Robert calls Katherine, still in the hospital, and tells her she must leave London. She agrees, but is confronted in her hospital room by Mrs. Baylock, who throws her through the window to her death. Meanwhile, Robert and Keith travel to Israel to meet Carl Bugenhagen, an archaeologist and expert on the Antichrist; he explains that if Damien is the true Antichrist he will bear a birthmark in the shape of three sixes. Carl gives Robert seven mystical daggers from Megiddo, and advises him to use them to murder Damien on hallowed ground. Robert, repulsed by the thought of killing a child, throws the daggers into a construction site. When Keith attempts to retrieve them, he is decapitated by a sheet of glass that slides from a truck bed.

Robert returns to London, and, upon examining Damien, finds the birthmark on his scalp. Mrs. Baylock enacts a violent attack on Robert, but he ultimately stabs her to death. Armed with the daggers, Robert forces Damien into the car and drives to a nearby cathedral. His erratic driving draws the attention of police, who trail him. Robert drags a screaming Damien into the church and lays him on the altar. Robert raises a dagger to stab Damien, pleading for forgiveness from God, but is shot to death by police who have entered the church.

A short time later, the double funeral of Katherine and Robert is attended by the President of the United States. Damien, observing the funerary procession, calmly smiles.




According to producer Harvey Bernhard, the idea of a motion picture about the Antichrist came from Bob Munger, a friend of Bernhard's. When Munger told him about the idea back in 1973, the producer immediately contacted screenwriter David Seltzer and hired him to write a screenplay. It took a year for Seltzer to write the script.[4]

The movie was considered by Warner Bros, who thought it might be ideal for Oliver Reed.[5] Seltzer and Donner differed over the film's message.[6] Donner favored an ambiguous reading of the script under which it would be left for the audience to decide whether Damien was the Antichrist or whether the series of violent deaths in the film were all just a string of unfortunate accidents.[6] Seltzer rejected the ambiguity favored by Donner and pressed for an interpretation of his script that left no doubt for the audience that Damien Thorn was the Antichrist and that all of the deaths in the film were caused by the malevolent power of Satan, the interpretation that Bernhard chose to go with.[6]


Bernhard claims Gregory Peck had been the choice to portray Ambassador Thorn from the beginning. Peck got involved with the project through his agent, who was friends with producer Harvey Bernhard. After reading the script, Peck reportedly liked the idea that it was more of a psychological thriller rather than a horror film and agreed to star in it. He was at first displeased with the props and effects for making the death scenes, but was relieved to find how restrained and non-exploitive they were in the final product.[4][7]

Despite Bernhard's claim,[4] William Holden was also considered for the role. Holden turned it down, claiming he didn't want to star in a film about the devil. Holden later would portray Thorn's brother, Richard, in the sequel, Damien: Omen II (1978).[8] A firm offer was made to Charlton Heston on July 19, 1975. He turned the part down on July 27, not wanting to spend an entire winter alone in Europe and also concerned that the film might have an exploitative feel if not handled carefully.[9] Roy Scheider and Dick Van Dyke were also considered for the role of Robert Thorn.[10] Charles Bronson was also offered the role.


Principal photography of The Omen began on October 6, 1975, and lasted eleven weeks, wrapping on January 9, 1976.[11] Scenes were shot on location in Bishops Park in Fulham, London and Guildford Cathedral in Surrey.[12][13] The church featured in the Bishop's Park neighbourhood is All Saints' Church, Fulham, on the western side of Putney Bridge Road. Additional photography took place at Shepperton Studios outside London, as well as on location in Jerusalem and Rome.[2] According to Richard Donner, Lee Remick's reaction during the baboon scene was authentic.[4]


The American scholar Brad Duren argued that The Omen was part of a trend of films featuring cosmic horror that started with Rosemary's Baby in 1968, but the film was unusual at the time in that concerned the "end times" predicated in The Book of Revelation and its use of the ideology of Premillennial Dispensationalism favored by American fundamentalist Protestants.[14] Duren further maintained that the box office success of The Omen, which concerned the first stages of the Apocalypse as the Antichrist in the form of the apparently angelic child Damien Thorn appears on the earth to be adopted by an unsuspecting American diplomat and his wife, reflected the zeitgeist of 1970s America.[15]

Duren wrote that the changes and events of the 1960s-1970s were a traumatic period for many Americans who saw nearly all of the traditional values that they had cherished seemingly collapsing, giving the widespread sense that everything that had held America together in the past was falling apart.[15] Adding to the mood of disenchantment and fear were the Vietnam war and the massive divisions it had caused in American society which lingered for decades afterward, the Watergate scandal which had led to a level of public cynicism not seen since the dark days of the Great Depression, and the Arab oil embargo of 1973-1974 which had ended the "long summer" of prosperity that had started in 1945.[15] The fact that the "long summer" of prosperity had lasted so long made the recession caused by the Arab oil shock of 1973-74 all the more traumatic as many people had become accustomed to the idea that prosperity was the natural state of things.[15] The British writer Robert Lacey wrote about the impact of the oil shock in 1973-74 that for people in the West life suddenly become "slower, darker and chiller" as gasoline was rationed, the lights were turned off in Times Square, the "gas guzzler" automobiles suddenly stopped selling, speed limits became common and restrictions were placed on weekend driving in a bid to conserve fuel.[16] The oil shock led to Japanese automobiles, which tended to be considerably lighter and more fuel-efficient than heavy American "gas guzzler" automobiles, to capture significant market share, which caused much angst in the United States as the American automobile industry went into decline.[16] In a sign of the changed power dynamics caused by the oil shock, Western politicians and diplomats now had to court the favor of the leaders of oil-rich Middle Eastern states such as King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran, which gave rise to a sense that the West was now in decline.[17] The end of what the French called les Trente Glorieuses ("the Glorious Thirty" [years]) led to a mood of widespread pessimism in the West with the Financial Times running a famous headline in late 1973 saying "The Future will be subject to Delay".[18] Further adding to the mood of national bitterness was the failure of many of the utopian dreams of the 1960s as racism proved to be more deeply entrenched than was believed in the 1960s, leading many to see the civil rights movement which once had inspired so many as a failure.[19]

The rise of secularism led to the decline of traditional churches whose attendance fall off dramatically in the 1960s-1970s.[19] The replacement of a religious worldview by a scientific worldview left many people in the West disenchanted as science failed to provide the traditional spiritual comforts of religion, leading to a feeling on part of many Westerners in the 1960s-1970s that the world was adrift.[19] Furthermore, in a world full of injustice and pain, science for many seemed to be an unacceptable basis for morality, leading many to search for something spiritual outside of traditional religion.[19] Duren wrote that a situation had been created where, by the late 1960s-early 1970s, there was "...a widespread apathy punctuated by a continued desire to believe something...anything".[19] The American-Canadian scholar David Frum wrote of the times that many "yearned as fervently as ever for a direct encounter with the transcendental, but they chafed against the authority that had once guided them towards that encounter".[19]

Part of the search for a new spirituality saw the rise of popularity of new religious movements in the United States such as the so-called "New Age" movements; the Unification Church of South Korea; of "eastern" religions such as Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism; and of various fundamentalist Protestant churches that predicated the imminence of the Apocalypse.[20] A particular sign of the growing popularity of the latter was the best-selling 1970 book The Late, Great Planet Earth by an American fundamentalist minister Hal Lindsey, which warned that the Apocalypse was about to occur in the very near future.[21] In his book, Lindsey tied Biblical prophecies to current events; for example, Lindsey asserted that the European Economic Community (EEC), which its proponents believed would ultimately create a "United States of Europe" would be a new "Roman empire".[21] The economic success of the EEC, which had been founded in 1957, led to a belief by the late 1960s-early 1970s that a "United States of Europe" was a real possibility within the near future, for which some people confirmed the accuracy of Lindsey's predications.[22] Likewise, the fact that the Soviet Union had supported Syria and Egypt in the Six Day War of 1967 and Egypt again to a much greater extent in the War of Attrition in 1969-70 was used by Lindsey to argue that the Soviet Union would one day go to war with Israel, thereby leading to a Soviet-American nuclear exchange which would be the "War of Gog and Magog" predicated in the Book of Revelation.[23] Starting in January 1970, in response to a threat by President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt to otherwise take his nation into the American sphere of influence, the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev had dispatched thousands of Soviet military personnel to operate SAM (surface-to-air missiles) and radar sites in Egypt together with hundreds of Red Air Force's planes, leading to a number of Soviet-Israeli clashes during the final phase of the War of Attrition in 1970. The way in which the Soviet Union became involved in the War of Attrition seemed for some to validate Lindsey's predictions that one day the Soviet Union would attack Israel.

In the same way, famines, earthquakes and wars in the Third World for a certain audience confirmed Lindsey's warnings of increased disasters all over the world as signs of the coming Apocalypse.[22] Lindsey predicated in The Late, Great Planet Earth that the 1970s and 1980s would see America would go into a rapid political and economic decline, which would set the stage for the Antichrist to take over the world.[23] The fact that the events of the 1970s such as the Watergate scandal and the recession caused by the Arab oil shock seemed to superficially conform with Lindsey's dire predications made The Late, Great Planet Earth one of the most popular books of the 1970s and led to fears on the part of some of its readers that the Antichrist might have already arrived on the earth.[23] In 1973, Lindsey's book was re-published by a secular publisher, Bantam, which was most unusual for a tract by a fundamentalist minister, and in that year and in the next The Late, Great Planet Earth sold more copies than The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort, despite the apparent greater "sex appeal" of Comfort's book compared to Lindsey's.[23] Lindsey did not provide a particular date for when the Apocalypse would occur, but hinted that it might happen around about 1988.[23] Lindsey wrote The Late, Great Planet Earth in 1969 and today his book seems very dated as he referenced contemporary events now long past as evidence for the coming Apocalypse, but at the time for many "it seemed he was onto something".[22] Lindsey's belief system was part of a theology known as Premillennial Dispensationalism that had created by an Anglo-Irish cleric John Nelson Darby who had founded the Plymouth Brethren in the 1830s.[23] Afterwards, Darby's ideas became very popular with American fundamentalist Protestants in the 19th century and remain so.[23] Darby argued that the Apocalypse was going to occur within the foreseeable future and the Antichrist, far from being a metaphor for evil as traditionally believed, would be an actual man who rules the entire world as its dictator for seven years before being overthrown by Christ in the ultimate battle between evil vs. good.[22]

In 1973, an advertising executive and evangelical Christian, Robert Munger, who had read Lindsey's book speculated to a film producer, Harvey Bernard, about the possibility that the Antichrist might be walking the earth in the form of a child, unknown to the vast majority of humanity.[6] This conversation inspired Bernard with the idea for the film that became The Omen.[6] Bernard commissioned a script-writer, David Seltzer, to write a script for the film he envisioned.[6] Seltzer in turn borrowed many ideas from Premillennial Dispensationalism, especially The Late, Great Planet Earth while inventing his own.[6] For an example, the supposed quote from the Book of Revelation featured in The Omen reading: "When the Jews return to Zion and a comet rips the sky and the Holy Roman Empire rises; then you and I must die. From the eternal sea he rises, creating armies on either shore, turning man against brother, 'til man exists no more" is a fabrication created by Seltzer.[6] Likewise, the sinister figure who will rule the world for 7 years predicted in The Book of Revelation, commonly known as the Antichrist, is not described in the Bible as the son of Satan whereas Seltzer made Satan the father of the Antichrist in The Omen.[6] Duren commented that it was a sign of the popularity of The Omen that ever since the film had been released in 1976 it is widely believed, even by evangelical Christians, that Satan will be the father of the Antichrist despite the fact that the Bible says nothing of the sort (the Antichrist is only described as a follower of the Devil).[6] In the same vein, the film's portrayal of certain Catholic priests as the allies of the Antichrist owes much to fundamentalist Protestant views of the Roman Catholic Church and nothing to Catholic doctrine.[24] The "daggers of Megiddo" which are the only things that can kill the Antichrist in The Omen are not mentioned in the Book of Revelation, which states that only Christ can kill the Antichrist.[25] Finally, Duren stated that the film massively distorts the Book of Revelation by requiring Robert Thorn to kill Damien with one of the sacred daggers as the only way to avert the Apocalypse, which the Book of Revelation contends will be a highly horrific, but also a necessary chapter in the future that will end in the ultimate triumph of good over evil and the salvation of humanity.[26] Duren wrote that from a fundamentalist viewpoint that Damien should not be killed as his temporary rule as the dictator of the world as an adult will be followed by the eternal rule of Christ, but Seltzer needed to add dramatic tension to the story.[25] Duren noted the fact that Munger who served as the religious consultant on the film should have been aware of the film's distortions of the Bible, but he instead praised it as theologically accurate is a testament to the film's popularity.[27] Duren wrote: "What makes the film work for someone inclined to the dispensationalist viewpoint is not the specifics, but the overall message of the film: that the prophesied rise of the Antichrist is going to happen and it will likely happen in our lifetimes."[27]

Much of the success of the film in 1976 was due to the sense of malaise in the West at the time as one film critic, John Kenneth Muir, wrote: "What if the Bible is correct? What if all the signs of the Apocalypse are happening around about now? Would we believe them? Heck, would we even notice?"[27] Duren wrote that through it was unlikely that most people who viewed the film in 1976 accepted the dispensationalist viewpoint, but the mere feeling that the world or perhaps more accurately the West was in terminal decline gave the film a resonance at the time that its subsequent sequels and remakes made in later decades have lacked.[27] Beyond the success of the film, Duren wrote that the impact of the film on popular culture can seen in the way that many people accept the dispensationalist reading of the Book of Revelation as the correct interpretation whereas in fact, the dispensationalist interpretation was and still is rejected by many churches.[27] Duren wrote dispensationalism had once been a "fringe" theory within Protestant theology, but due to the popularity of The Omen it is now popularly seen as what Bible says.[28] Duren noted that in the film it has to be explained to Robert Thorn that the number 666 is the "mark of the beast" as presumably the audiences in 1976 were not familiar with this aspect of the Book of Revelation, but because of the film's popularity the number 666 has entered popular culture and most people, even those of a secular bent, are at least vaguely aware of the sinister significance attached to 666.[29]


The Omen
Soundtrack album by
GenreFilm music
Label20th Century Fox
ProducerJerry Goldsmith
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[30]

An original score for the film, including the movie's theme song "Ave Satani", was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, for which he received the only Oscar of his career. The score features a strong choral segment, with a foreboding Latin chant. The refrain to the chant is, "Sanguis bibimus, corpus edimus, tolle corpus Satani", Latin for, "We drink the blood, we eat the flesh, raise the body of Satan", interspersed with cries of "Ave Satani!" and "Ave Versus Christus" (Latin, "Hail, Satan!" and "Hail, Antichrist!").[citation needed] Aside from the choral work, the score includes lyrical themes portraying the pleasant home life of the Thorn family, which are contrasted with the more disturbing scenes of the family's confrontation with evil.[citation needed] According to Goldsmith's wife, Carol, the composer initially struggled with ideas for the score until one evening when he suddenly, happily announced to her, "I hear voices", referring to an orchestral chorus or choir.

Original soundtrack (1990)[edit]

All music is composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

The Omen: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1."Ave Satani"Jerry GoldsmithJerry Goldsmith2:32
2."The New Ambassador" Jerry Goldsmith2:33
3."The Killer Storm" Jerry Goldsmith2:51
4."A Sad Message" Jerry Goldsmith1:42
5."The Demise of Mrs. Baylock" Jerry Goldsmith2:52
6."Don't Let Him" Jerry Goldsmith2:48
7."The Piper Dreams"Carol GoldsmithCarol Goldsmith2:39
8."The Fall" Jerry Goldsmith3:42
9."Safari Park" Jerry Goldsmith2:04
10."The Dogs Attack" Jerry Goldsmith5:50
11."The Homecoming" Jerry Goldsmith2:43
12."The Altar" Jerry Goldsmith2:00

Deluxe Edition soundtrack (2001)[edit]

For the film's 25th anniversary, a deluxe version of the soundtrack was released with eight additional tracks.

All music is composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

The Omen: Deluxe Edition Soundtrack
1."Ave Satani"Jerry GoldsmithJerry Goldsmith2:35
2."On This Night" Jerry Goldsmith2:36
3."The New Ambassador" Jerry Goldsmith2:34
4."Where Is He?" Jerry Goldsmith:56
5."I Was There" Jerry Goldsmith2:27
6."Broken Vows" Jerry Goldsmith2:12
7."Safari Park" Jerry Goldsmith3:24
8."A Doctor, Please" Jerry Goldsmith1:44
9."The Killer Storm" Jerry Goldsmith2:54
10."The Fall" Jerry Goldsmith3:45
11."Don't Let Him" Jerry Goldsmith2:49
12."The Day He Died" Jerry Goldsmith2:14
13."The Dogs Attack" Jerry Goldsmith5:54
14."A Sad Message" Jerry Goldsmith1:44
15."Beheaded" Jerry Goldsmith1:49
16."The Bed" Jerry Goldsmith1:08
17."666" Jerry Goldsmith:44
18."The Demise of Mrs. Baylock" Jerry Goldsmith2:54
19."The Altar" Jerry Goldsmith2:07
20."The Piper Dreams"Carol GoldsmithCarol Goldsmith2:41

40th Anniversary edition soundtrack (2016)[edit]

A limited-edition soundtrack was released for the film's 40th anniversary with six additional tracks and a bonus track.

All music is composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

The Omen: 40th Anniversary Edition Soundtrack
1."Ave Satani"Jerry GoldsmithJerry Goldsmith2:34
2."On This Night" Jerry Goldsmith2:35
3."The New Ambassador" Jerry Goldsmith2:35
4."Where Is He?" Jerry Goldsmith:55
5."Fatal Fall/It's All For You" Jerry Goldsmith:42
6."The Dog" Jerry Goldsmith:24
7."I Was There" Jerry Goldsmith2:24
8."Have No Fear" Jerry Goldsmith:36
9."Broken Vows" Jerry Goldsmith2:12
10."Safari Park" Jerry Goldsmith3:21
11."A Doctor, Please" Jerry Goldsmith1:43
12."She'll Die" Jerry Goldsmith1:43
13."The Killer Storm" Jerry Goldsmith2:55
14."The Fall" Jerry Goldsmith3:45
15."Don't Let Him" Jerry Goldsmith2:48
16."The Day He Died" Jerry Goldsmith2:14
17."Father Spiletto" Jerry Goldsmith1:09
18."The Dogs Attack" Jerry Goldsmith5:53
19."Mother's Death" Jerry Goldsmith:48
20."A Sad Message" Jerry Goldsmith1:44
21."Beheaded" Jerry Goldsmith1:48
22."The Bed" Jerry Goldsmith1:08
23."666" Jerry Goldsmith:46
24."The Demise of Mrs. Baylock" Jerry Goldsmith2:54
25."The Altar" Jerry Goldsmith2:04
26."The Piper Dreams"Carol GoldsmithCarol Goldsmith2:39
27."The Omen Suite" Diego Navarro, Tenerife Film Orchestra10:52


Box office[edit]

The Omen was released following a successful $2.8 million marketing campaign inspired by the one from Jaws one year prior, with two weeks of sneak previews, a novelization by screenwriter David Seltzer, and the logo with "666" inside the film's title as the centerpiece of the advertisement.[31] An early screening of the film took place in numerous U.S. cities on June 6, 1976.[32][33][34]

The film was a massive commercial success, opening in the United States and Canada on June 25, 1976 in 516 theaters.[35] It grossed $4,273,886 in its opening weekend (a then record for Fox)[35][36] and $60,922,980 in total, generating theatrical rentals of $28.5 million in the United States and Canada.[37] Worldwide it earned rentals of $46.3 million from a budget of $2.8 million.[38][3] In the United States, the film was the sixth highest-grossing movie of 1976.

Critical response[edit]

Richard Eder of The New York Times called it "a dreadfully silly film" but "reasonably well-paced. We don't have time to brood about the sillinesses of any particular scene before we are on to the next. There is not a great deal of excitement, but we manage to sustain some curiosity as to how things will work out."[39] Variety praised Richard Donner's direction as "taut" and the performances as "strong", and noted that the script, "sometimes too expository, too predictable, too contrived, is nonetheless a good connective fibre."[40] Roger Ebert gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4.[41] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune also awarded 2.5 stars out of 4, lauding the "firepower sound track" and several "memorable" scenes, but finding the story "goofy."[42] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "an absolutely riveting, thoroughly scary experience, a triumph of sleek film craftsmanship that will inevitably but not necessarily unfavorably be compared to The Exorcist."[43] Tom Shales of The Washington Post declared, "It's probably the classiest Exorcist copy yet, but as a summer thriller, it can hardly challenge the human appeal and exhilarating impact of last year's Jaws ... Seltzer, busy justifying his baloney premise with Biblical quotations, forgets about narrative logic or empathetic characters."[44] Gene Shalit called the film "a piece of junk", and Judith Crist said it "offers more laughs than the average comedy."[45] Jack Kroll of Newsweek called it "a dumb and largely dull movie."[46] Duncan Leigh Cooper of Cineaste wrote, "Despite its improbable story line and abundance of gratuitous violence, THE OMEN does succeed in its attempt to frighten, terrorize, and just plain scare the pants off most of the audience. Impressive performances ... plus a chilling mock-religious score by Jerry Goldsmith and the skillful direction of Richard Donner, all contribute to the suspension of disbelief required to draw the audience into the film's web of terror."[47] Richard Combs of The Monthly Film Bulletin described the movie as "[a] matter-of-fact exercise in Satanic blood and thunder, both less grandiloquently and less pretentiously put together than The Exorcist ... In fact, the narrative is so straightforward, and so mundanely concerned with developing ever more ingenious ways, at a rapidly increasing clip, of disposing of its starry cast, that the spiritual torment is skimped."[48]

In 1978, two years after its release, The Omen was included in Michael Medved and Harry Dreyfuss's book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time. It was the most recent movie featured.[45]

Retrospective reviews of the film have been more favorable. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 86% based on 49 reviews and an average rating of 7.25/10. The site's consensus reads: "The Omen eschews an excess of gore in favor of ramping up the suspense -- and creates an enduring, dread-soaked horror classic along the way".[49] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 62 out of 100 based on 11 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[50]

The Omen was ranked number 81 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Thrills,[51] and the score by Jerry Goldsmith was nominated for AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores.[52] The film was ranked #16 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.[53] Similarly, the Chicago Film Critics' Association named it the 31st scariest film ever made.[54] It has also been ranked as one of the best horror films of 1976 by[55]


Institution Category Recipient Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Original Score Jerry Goldsmith Won [56]
Best Original Song Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Supporting Actress Billie Whitelaw Nominated
British Society of Cinematographers Best Cinematography Gilbert Taylor Won
Edgar Allan Poe Award Best Screenplay David Seltzer Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Actress Billie Whitelaw Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Acting Debut – Male Harvey Stephens Nominated [57]
Grammy Awards Best Album of Original Score Jerry Goldsmith Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Horror Film The Omen Nominated
Best Actor in a Horror Film Gregory Peck Won
Writers Guild of America Best Original Screenplay David Seltzer Nominated

Home media[edit]

The Omen was released on VHS by 20th Century Fox Home Video in 1980.[58] A VHS reissue was released by Fox under their "Selection Series" in 2000. The same year, a special edition DVD was released by 20th Century Fox Home Video as a standalone release[59] as well as in a four-film set that included its three sequels.[60] A newly restored 2-disc collector's edition DVD of the film was issued in 2006, coinciding with the release of the remake.[61]

The film had its debut on Blu-ray in October 2008 as part of a four-film collection, featuring the first two sequels—Damien: Omen II and The Final Conflict—as well as the 2006 remake.[62] The fourth sequel, Omen: The Awakening, was not included in this set.[62] On October 15, 2019, Scream Factory released a "Deluxe Edition" box set—featuring the original film, along with all three sequels and the remake—and featuring newly commissioned bonus materials.[63] The Scream Factory release features a new 4K restoration of the original film elements.[63]

Related works[edit]


A novelization of The Omen was written by screenwriter David Seltzer (the book preceded the movie by two weeks as a marketing gimmick). For the book, Seltzer augmented some plot points and character backgrounds and changed minor details (such as character names — Holly becomes Chessa Whyte, Keith Jennings becomes Haber Jennings, Father Brennan becomes Father Edgardo Emilio Tassone).

Sequels and remake[edit]

The Omen was followed by three sequels: Damien: Omen II (1978), Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), and Omen IV: The Awakening (1991).[63] A remake of the same title was released in 2006, starring Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles in the roles of Robert and Katherine, and Mia Farrow portraying Mrs. Blaylock.[64]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Omen (1976)". British Film Institute. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Fishgall 2002, p. 290.
  3. ^ a b "Box Office Information for The Omen". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d The Omen Interviews with Gregory Peck 1976 at YouTube
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  • Fishgall, Gary (2002). Gregory Peck: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-85290-4.
  • Duren, Brad (2017). "Reckoning the Number of the Beast: Premillernial Dispensationalism, The Omen, and 1970s America". In J. Miller, Cynthia; A. Bowdoin Van Riper (eds.). Divine Horror: Essays on the Cinematic Battle Between the Sacred and the Diabolical. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-1476629841.
  • Lacey, Robert (1981). The Kingdom. San Diego, California: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0151472602.
  • Medved, Harry; Dreyfuss, Randy (1978). The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (and how they got that way). Popular Library. ISBN 0-445-04139-0.
  • Wyatt, Justin (1998). Lewis, Jon (ed.). The New American Cinema. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2115-7.

External links[edit]