Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Son of Satan: Sam Neill
THE FINAL CONFLICT aka Omen III: The Final Conflict/1981. Director: Graham Baker.

"Most people confuse 'evil' with their their own trivial lusts and perversions." -- Damien Thorn

Damien Thorn (Sam Neill), the anti-Christ, is now grown and still causing bloody mischief after the events of The Omen and Damien: Omen 2. Thorn becomes the new ambassador to Britain, then discovers that the Christ child has been born in London. Even as Thorn has his minions murdering male infants in case one of them is his adversary, Father DeCarlo (Rossano Brazzi) and his monks attempt to kill Thorn with special daggers -- only the little devil outwits them every time. Thorn develops a relationship with reporter Kate Reynolds (Lisa Harrow), but seems more interested in indoctrinating her teenage son, Peter (Barnaby Holm), into the ways of evil and lord only knows what else. But Damian's plans may come to nothing despite his best efforts ... The Final Conflict is a highly-enjoyable, slick and well-made horror film if you don't take it seriously, which is impossible to do for all but the sub-literate. On that mindless level the film boasts an excellent performance from Neill [Daybreakers], and a very notable turn from Don Gordon, who is Damien's executive assistant, and unbeknownst to Thorn, the father of a boy born on the wrong day. Brazzi [Summertime] doesn't seem to take anything that seriously, and probably didn't; Harrow and Holm are fine. The set-pieces in the film -- an assassin gets caught in a fiery trap while trying to kill Damien in a TV studio; the assorted suspenseful murders of the infants -- are well-done although a scene with dogs allegedly tearing a monk apart doesn't quite work because the rather cute doggies don't actually seem to be doing anything. The film is tremendously bolstered by a near-operatic score by Jerry Goldsmith, who has delivered an epic and beautiful theme with demonic undertones, and embellishes every scene with a sweeping and majestic backdrop. When Kate is, to all intents and purposes, raped late in the movie, she has virtually no reaction! But then the filmmakers have no more compassion for the assorted victims than Damien does.

NOTE: This was followed by the TV movie Omen IV, and just this year A and E had a series entitled Damien detailing the further adventures of Damien Thorn; it lasted one season.

Verdict: Comparatively empty but engaging and rather clever horror flick. *** out of 4.


angelman66 said...

LOL, Bill, agreed, this is not a masterpiece, but it is in my collection and I watch it over and over. Sam Neill is evil-sexy-perfect as Damien, and thank you for giving props in your review to Don Gordon, who plays the assistant. You are right, there is something going on between Damien and young Peter!! The scene where Lisa Harrow makes love with Damien, who wants to do it a "different way," is priceless.

David Seltzer, who wrote the original, was a guest professor and alum at Northwestern while I was there; the 1976 version is really one of my all-time favorite horror films.

William said...

I agree -- The original Omen is very creepy and effective with a great score and fine performances -- one of Peck's best ion my opinion.

Seltzer got some attacks because he said the whole story of "Omen" was hogwash-- just like the Wolfman and vampires -- I guess some people were annoyed that he didn't actually believe in devil worship and little kids with evil powers and so on!

All the film version was disappointing, I've always loved Seltzer's novel "Prophecy."