2017 Year in Review – Hitchcock and Carpenter

Movies by two different directors monopolized my home viewing experiences from 2017. That’s not to say I didn’t watch a lot of other movies, but I did see a decent amount from the catalogs of Alfred Hitchcock and John Carpenter. Prior to 2017, I had already watched several films from both directors, but never pooled so closely together. Some of the films have been re-watches and some I’ve watched for the first time. In this post I will discuss my thoughts on both directors.

Alfred Hitchcock was truly a master of suspenseful storytelling. What impresses me most about Hitchcock is that he had a clear vision of how to make a movie-goer react, and could translate it to the screen seamlessly. Further, I don’t find his films to be dated, especially when it comes to his pacing. In my opinion, pacing is one of the major detractors for the modern viewer of most films from the Classical Hollywood Era. The other, in my opinion is acting-technique.

hitchcockcameo

Another great thing about Hitchcock films is the cameos.

Here are the Hitchcock films I watched in 2017: Psycho, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, North By Northwest, Rope, and The Birds. Every one of these films is a solid 8/10 or more for me, and are truly worth a watch for anyone with a remote interest in watching classical pictures.

The best of the lot, in my opinion, was probably North By Northwest. It had all of the grandiose scope, wit from a leading role, and suspenseful action of the best James Bond films from the following decade. If you’ve seen the Connery Bond films, you’ll immediately spot their inspiration in this Hitchcock classic. You want to root for Cary Grant, who plays protagonist Roger Thornhill. He never fails to make a sly remark on his current situation, which is constantly in flux. Unlike most other films of the era, North by Northwest unfolds quickly, and you don’t want to divert your eyes for a moment. The airplane scene is iconic, and is one of my favorite scenes in all of cinema history.

What impressed me most in all of the Hitchcock films though, more so than anything related to the story-telling or presentation, was Grace Kelly’s ability to steal every second she was onscreen. I can’t name any other actor or actress with the screen presence of the Pennsylvania-born Princess. Perhaps the only others I can name with that level of on-screen charisma that even come close for me are Sean Connery or Harrison Ford.  While it’s a shame for us that her film dossier is so short, good for her for pursuing the life of her choosing outside of Hollywood. I am eager to watch To Catch a Thief, but I almost don’t want to anytime soon as I enjoy having a Grace Kelly film to look forward to.

I was also able to watch and enjoy some films by John Carpenter during 2017. Among the Carpenter films I watched this year are: Escape from New York, Escape from L.A., The Thing, They Live, and Big Trouble in Little China. Apart from Escape from L.A., they are all quality without taking themselves too seriously. Escape from L.A. has some merit, but was poor overall, unless you’re into campy CGI surfing scenes, Do-or-Die basketball challenges, or another movie with Steve Buscemi in the ’90s. (What movie was Buscemi not in in the ’90s though?)

escapesurfing

Don’t go around high-fiving each other for a job well done on the CGI. Chances are, it’s going to look terrible in a few years.

Carpenter’s scores ooze ’80s awesomeness, and his world-building is near unparalleled for me. I feel like there’s a strong desire for more of this ’80s aesthetic which can be seen in the success of properties like Stranger Things, Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy, or the It remake. While nostalgia always sells, there’s something apart from nostalgia that is mystifying and appealing about ’80s sci-fi and horror created in the vein of John Carpenter. I think we’re set to see more movies and TV shows looking to cash in on this audience desire in 2018.

escapebasketball

Oh, it’s not just CGI surfing either. You’re probably better off to not include that leather-clad basketball to the death scene either.

Unfortunately, The Thing prequel made in 2011 (that Carpenter did not direct or give his blessing to) did not satisfy the thirst for more Carpenter awesomeness or ’80s nostalgia. I find it to be far worse than Psycho II (A film that Hitchcock was not around to give his blessing to). It’s rare that I just stop a movie without finishing, but that’s just what I did with The Thing (2011). And when I say rare, I mean like <.01% of films I’ve watched rar, as the only other movie I think that I haven’t finished on purpose is De Palma’s Black Dahlia. I even made it all of the way through Pixels, a movie that I think made me physically ill. At least it didn’t kill me, like Rotten Tomatoes just tried to do to John Carpenter.

carpenterdead

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

Thanks for reading. Sorry I didn’t connect the dots between the two directors, but their end- products really couldn’t be more different in many ways. I just happened to enjoy both at the same time. In upcoming posts I plan to give some superlatives for films I watched in 2017 and finally vent my frustrations for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the most disappointing film in my life, even taking recency bias into account.

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2017 Year In Review – Marvel Movies & Comics

I recently got back on the horse and started writing about movies again. My last blog post highlighted changes to my viewing habits and additions to my collection. It was far less snarky than previous entries. In this post I will discuss the three Marvel films released in 2017, and take a moment offer my take on Marvel comics in 2017.

I don’t get to the theater much anymore, but I was able to watch several movies in the comfort of my own bed. In fact, I only went to the theater four times over the course of the whole year. I’m actually surprised I went that often, as I enjoy spending free time with my baby and wife, and I am pleased with my home viewing setup and patient enough to watch most films in their home-release phase.

Three of the movies I watched in theaters were Marvel films: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. I thoroughly enjoyed all three from an entertainment perspective, and I feel that the Marvel movies have hit a balance that pleases moviegoers and fans alike. (The fourth movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi will not be discussed in detail here in this post, but in short, I hated it.) Since I don’t attend the theater often, when I do go, I want to see something I know I will savor, that will also be diverting.

Domhnall-Gleeson-Star-Wars-The-Last-Jedi-General-Hux

Making a Sequel 101: Don’t take a menacing villain portrayed by a great actor and have him flop and flail around over the duration of the film, and definitely don’t have him be on the butt end of ‘yo mama’ jokes.

While some are cynical about comic book films dominating the current movie-going climate, I don’t agree with the argument. I can appreciate both the entertainment-oriented flick alongside the thinking-man’s film, and have a separate set of expectations for entertainment than art. I think many movie-goers fall into this category. Going to the cinema is about entertainment, and it is easier to digest an artistic film in the comfort and quiet of your own home. I also think part of the cinema experience is about spectacle, so I don’t think these superhero films are going anywhere anytime soon. The formula that these movies follow is just like a good pop song. It may use the same chords as the last one, but the lyrics are different and it is catchy nonetheless. In some ways, they are the perfect form of the modern blockbuster.

If I had to pick a favorite of the recent Marvel bunch, it would be Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, though the other two aren’t far behind. I’ve fell in love with the dynamic that James Gunn has brought to the Guardians. Maybe its overwhelming success can in-part be attributed to the fact that there are no preconceived notions on what these characters should be or how the story should be approached. They’re a fantastical and colorful approach to the comic genre, which has very much tied to “realism” for most of its existence.  Either way, I eagerly await the third installment of the Guardians franchise. The inclusion of new characters like Adam Warlock, and other unique potentials like Bug, Jack Flag, and Moondragon to the third film can give the franchise a lot of room for creative license.

Bug-3

Call up the ol’ Loverbug. He’s a perfect fit for the film franchise. I think the Guardians can use some self-deprecating humor.

Moving on to Marvel comics, 2017 wasn’t such a great year for Marvel in print, as it seems they have alienated a lot of their fanbase and lost a lot in sales as a result. I’ve read that they’ve dropped an estimated 10% in print sales (mostly due to a decrease in sales from their overpriced floppies), whereas DC Comics have grown by about the same number.

Some will point to needless rethinking of established characters at their core being a driving factor in the slump. I think the problem is more simple. Marvel insists on yearly overarching events interrupting comic runs and, more importantly, they charge too much for mediocre physical comics. I’m a fan of comics in print, but it’s hard for me to justify spending $4-5 and issue, especially when I can get Marvel Comics Unlimited for the same amount every month. Plus, I like being able to have comics on demand, versus visiting a comic book shop, where I’ve typically felt unwelcome. I think we are going to see many comic shops go the way of Blockbuster Video if they can not adapt to new trends.

I’m not of the belief that print is a dying format and I think this is reflected in DC Comics recent growth. I merely think Marvel’s pricing does not reflect its quality, as it is more expensive than DC, and DC readers seem to be more satisfied with the product. I bring this up is because I’m interested to see if this downturn in sales and disinterest in current releases has any long-term affects on future Marvel movies releases. Since many of the films are drawn from comic stories at a basic level, having a disappointing recent set of stories to choose from may reflect negatively on the films. Also, I want to see how comic book retailers adapt, as Marvel commands a serious presence in these stores. (Basically 40% of the entire market is Marvel)

captain-america-agent-hydra

Marvel in 2017 summed up: Take an established character who has spent 75+ years grappling with Nazis, retcon your stories to make him a secret Nazi all along just to sell comics, then end it all by acting like nothing happened. I don’t know what’s worse, that or taking a Holocaust survivor and making them a Nazi.

That’s not to say that I haven’t read some excellent Marvel comics for the first time this year, but they’ve all been at least a few years old. Some of my favorites have been Beta Ray Bill’s introduction in Thor by Walt Simonson, Cable & Deadpool, Spider-Man: Blue, and Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy run to name a few.

Overall, it has been an up and down year for Marvel. I don’t expect to see so much success at the box office while Marvel in print struggles. Something will have to change as they’re two sides of the same coin at this point. With Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp all on the horizon, I don’t see the comic book blockbuster going anywhere any time soon. (Funny enough, none of these titles would have had audiences buzzing a decade ago.) With nothing to get me engaged with print comics or setting foot in a comic store, I think something will have to change in 2018 for Marvel comics in print. Or perhaps we are seeing the end of the comic book store.

 

2017 Year in Review – Updates to My Movie-Watching Habits and Collection

With billions and billions of pages across the web, you somehow stumbled across mine. This site was created so that I could review a movie a day for the month of October in 2014 and 2015 and failed miserably both years. Watching a movie a day is an incredibly daunting task. When my wife and I had a baby and I didn’t even attempt to try my review marathon during the last two years.

Now, I’m back behind the keyboard and I want to write about movies again. In this post I am going to talk about changes to my watching and collecting habits in 2017, new additions to my movie collection, and films I am looking forward to add to my collection.

For most of 2017, I was adjusting to parenthood. Irregular sleep due to teething and stomachaches and anything else the baby was dealing with didn’t allow me a long attention span for the first half of the year, but by the second half of 2017 watching movies became an almost daily ritual. The baby has started to sleep better and for longer bouts and I’m not so exhausted that I pass out the instant I have a free thought.

Two other major changes to my movie watching habits include my starting a monthly subscription plan at Orbit DVD in West Asheville and joining the subreddit /r/dvdcollection.

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Festive view of Orbit DVD from Haywood Rd. over the the Christmas break.

Paying less than I do for Netflix, I can watch anything in Orbit’s extensive catalog of Blu-Rays and DVDs one disc at a time. It’s a far better deal than any available streaming service, as the cost is lower and the collection is more extensive. Plus, I enjoy going in a physical location to browse through movies to rent or pruchase, retro games (my other hobby), and any merchandise they may have. I appreciate Orbit DVD as they fervently support the Haywood community and local Asheville businesses.

The other major change for me and my movie watching habits has been regularly following the goings on at /r/dvdcollection on Reddit. Members of the community post and discuss their collections and pickups, and review packaging and special features on different new releases. Moderators post daily deals from major outlets, which has enticed me to expand my collection with very the deep discounts that have been brought to my attention there. There is also a forum for the buying, selling, and trading discs and digital codes. Some folks are kind enough to give away their digital codes there, since they don’t use the format, but I am never quick enough to claim them.

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The Bridge on the River Kwai Steelbook – Awesome cover art for the classic military film. Edit: Fry’s cancelled my order on this without warning or apology. Screw Fry’s and their crappy business practice.

Some notable additions to my collection from /r/dvdcollection include National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on Blu-Ray for $3.99, The Bridge on the River Kwai Steelbook for $3.99, Band of Brothers on Blu-Ray for $9.99, and the Star Trek: The Next Generation Film Collection for $14.99 on Blu-Ray. I was able to purchase several digital films and trade a few as well. Currently, I’m sitting at 342 films and TV shows in my collection give or take a few. It’s hard to list everything, as my collection increased by about 50-75 films and television shows, despite culling a number of films I don’t care to own anymore. Among the titles I shed myself of were Jackie Brown, Heroes Seasons 1 and 2, and a Austin Powers. I don’t think I will miss them.

targetspidey
My favorite Blu-Ray Release from the year. The cover felt like a labor of love and less slapped together than most.

A few other additions to my collection that I am especially excited about are the James Bond Complete Collection Blu-Ray set that my wife bought for me for my birthday, The Toho Godzilla Collection and the Godzilla Criterion Blu-Ray, and the amazingly packaged Spider-Man: Homecoming Target Special Edition Blu-Ray. Like prior releases of Community on DVD, the notebook doodles bring me back to a time where I was sitting in the back of the class doing the same thing. My wife even surprised me and bought me the Royal Tenenbaums on Criterion Blu-Ray after I discovered that my Royal Tenenbaums DVD had gone missing months prior. I think it was stolen over half a dozen years ago when I was in college like a handful of my other belongings and I only just noticed as my collection was never in order like it is now.

I also completed my collections of four of my favorite shows as a child, with the hopes of showing them to my daughter when she gets older. They are X-Men the Animated Series, Batman: The Animated Series, DuckTales, and Darkwing Duck. Interestingly enough, several DuckTales and Darkwing Duck episodes still have not been released officially on DVD, but I have the remaining downloaded and burned onto DVDs until they are out to the public. I don’t see any reason Disney would want to distance themselves from these properties like they would something like Song of the South, which was even considered too racy for Disney even back in 1970. (Despite Disney saying they would never re-release this film in 1970, they did so on a few other occasions) I feel like releasing these shows to the public in their entirety would essentially be printing money. There’s a lot of 90s-era TV shows from Disney that are yet to be released, but for me those are the most notable. Here’s a more extensive list.

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I’m all about a great steelbook, but Target’s exclusive releases for recent Marvel Comics Universe Movies have been awesome.

Discs that I am looking to add to my collection in the coming year are the Terminator Anthology Blu-Ray Set, The Transformers Animated Movie Steelbook, AVGN X, Animaniacs Volume 4, Ghost World Criterion Blu-Ray, and the not yet released Thor: Ragnarok Target Exclusive Blu-Ray Set. While my Xbox One does play 4K movies, I am not yet ready to make the jump to the improved format, as I do not have a 4K setup on my television.

So that’s where I am right now. I have a lot more movies than ever before. I’m grateful to be able to collect like I can, and part of that is because I am able to find the things I want at a much better price than before. I promise that the next two blog posts will be more interesting. They will include my reviews of a few notable movies I watched in 2017 and a look forward to films I will (and definitely won’t) be watching in 2018.

Rubber (2011)

First, let me air out the laundry. Rubber is the worst movie that I have ever watched taking everything in to consideration. I have no doubts and I don’t envision a change of heart any time soon. Previously the title of worst movie was held by Dragonball: Evolution, but Rubber is considerably the more rotten of the two. It’s not because I don’t get what they’re going for with this film. I get it, and I don’t like it.

Visionary filmmaker my ass.

I feel that it’s safe to say that the title of “visionary filmmaker” was a self-appointed one by Quentin Dupieux, who sometimes calls himself “Mr. Oizo” in an effort to be the most ostentatious asshole on the planet. His name can only be all over this trash in big bold letters for his own vanity, because “Quentin Dupieux” certainly doesn’t sell tickets. The only other possibility is that he is a possessive child who likes to write his name on his toys.

Rubber is a film that makes another banal attempt of mocking the monstrosity that is Hollywood. It’s a film with a mantra of “No reason.” In a fourth wall breaking opening monologue, the film’s lead actor rams the “No Reason” doctrine down your throat out of your digestive system and back again. In the monologue, the lead actor reaches Insane Clown Posse levels of philosophizing by asking speculative questions like, “Why is E.T. brown?” and “Why is Kennedy assassinated in the film JFK?” and only offers the answer of “No Reason.” He even asks why characters don’t go to the bathroom in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, when they actually do reference having to go in the beginning of the film. Rubber starts with a major oversight and only continues in mediocrity throughout.

Magnets, how do they work?

Rubber includes a chorus, much like a Classical Greek drama. They comment on the goings on throughout the film and have all sorts of meta conversations about the tire having sex and how one shouldn’t pirate movies. In the case of Rubber, the chorus is distracting and unfunny. The chorus is like a laugh track in a comedy. I don’t need to be reminded to laugh if something is funny. I just do. The chorus eventually dies because a stereotypical ’80s nerd kills them with poisoned meat. Cue laugh the laugh track.

The dialogue was written by someone who has never had a human conversation before. Instead of showing emotions through a multitude of established visual devices, the filmmaker has actors say “I’m mad” or even “I’m very mad” if they have passed the point of just being regular mad. The writing in this film will have your eyes looking like slot machines because they will be rolling in the back of their sockets so much. The worst line in the film? When attempting to find the tire, one character asks “Is it black?” – I’m sure the writer is still laughing about this one to himself.

Rubber is the type of movie that reminds you that you need to floss, and when you do, you find that your flossing was more enriching and entertaining.

The thing is, I get what the filmmaker is attempting to do. It doesn’t escape me. A humanized tire? Yeah, I can suspend my belief there. A film critical of Hollywood? I like The Player. What the filmmaker is going for, I totally get it. The thing is, it’s a lazy attempt, and poorly executed. The most bleak part of it all, is that the director can hide behind his adolescent nihilism as an excuse for his disastrous creation and just say “No Reason.” If you want to see this philosophy in full effect, watch American Beauty of A Clockwork Orange. Those are true efforts in the genre, and explore the philosophy thoroughly. This is arthouse filth and only those devoid of real world experience who are seeking to be different will admit to enjoying it. The director can blame his existence or society all he wants for this garbage, when in the end he is solely at fault.

Near the end, when the tire is reincarnated as a tricycle, Rubber reaches a point of immaturity that makes you ask yourself, “Can this movie get any more juvenile?” The answer is yes. The tricycle and all of its tire buddies roll up to the Hollywood sign and just sit there. “Look everyone, I am mocking Hollywood,” – Quentin Dupieux.

I am Quentin Dupieux and I just learned metaphors.

A turd in a box with a bow on it isn’t a present. It’s a turd in a confined space. Rubber is a turd in a confined space. Even in an infinite number of timelines, with an infinite number of possibilities, I can’t imagine ever liking Rubber. It’s the Superman 64 of movies. If Hell exists, it’s watching Rubber on repeat for eternity. No, Hell is watching Rubber once. Watching Rubber for eternity is worse than eternal damnation.

What could have made Rubber niche and interesting is making a horror film about a tire. The premise alone gives so much room for quirkiness and spoofery. Instead, the director is too interested in reminding people just how clever he is by cutting to all things uninteresting throughout the film. Rubber is the obese, pimply fedora wearing neckbeard of movies. The only fitting end to this saga is for the director to make his eventual exit in a massive tire fire.

I give it no severed LEGO arms out of five. It’s that awful.

Cronos (1993)

Cronos, the first full-length feature film by Guillermo del Toro from 1993 is the fifth film in my 31 Movies, 31 Days challenge. I’m back outside of the United States with a second Mexican-inspired horror film in a row.

It's time for Cronos.

It’s time for Cronos.

Cronos was the highest budgeted Mexican film at the time, at an estimated $1.5 million in total, and went about $500,000 over budget, a sum that was covered personally by del Toro, bringing the total cost to somewhere around $2 million. The budding Mexican director was worth the risk, and has gone on to make two of my most adored films in Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim.

Perhaps the best choice by del Toro was to scrap the idea of Ron Perlman be a Spanish speaking Mexican and instead be an expatriated American who is waiting for his uncle’s death and his chance at a nosejob. Perlman is impressive in the role, and its really no wonder he has made a great career for himself. Also, I couldn’t stop thinking that he looks remarkably like a Will Ferrell doppelganger in Cronos.

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

I also enjoyed the performance by lead-man and del Toro darling Federico Luppi. He went through so many transformations in the film, and was able to bring the humanity out in each one of them. It’s not every day you’re asked to go from an old antique shop owner to a vampiric zombie, but he was up to the task. From start to finish I enjoyed every bit of his screen-time. One scene especially threw me for a loop:

I won’t spoil the scene, but it’s one of the stronger ones I have seen in some time.

Cronos is unique, clever, and somewhat high-brow in comparison to most horror films. It brings a bit of gore and surreality without being too over the top. The Cronos device is a clever one, almost reminiscent of the puzzle box from Hellraiser, but distinctive in its own right. (They certainly must have been desirable, as all of the Cronos Device props were stolen after filming).

Vampire zombies are not a trope you see often in film, surprisingly, but this makes you want more. It’s no wonder that American studios tried to get the rights to make a Hollywood version of the film given the property. del Toro denied them the rights, and while I feel that Hollywood may have made a mess of it, it would have been interesting to see what they would have turned out.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Cronos from beginning to end. I felt like it lulled just before the conclusion, but really picked up at the final two encounters between protagonist and antagonists. Between the room of hanging antique angelic sculptures and a rooftop fight scene, I thought Cronos was beautifully shot, and I am somewhat surprised it didn’t catch on more in the States. Even now, with a Criterion release, it’s not a film I hear about. Cronos is definitely worth a watch, and for me, a rewatch in the future. I give it 4 severed LEGO arms out of 5.

Who knew that LEGO arms had bones?

Who knew that LEGO arms had bones?

Planet Terror (2007)

The fourth film in my 31 Movies in 31 Days challenge is Planet Terror, part one of the Grindhouse feature from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. This will be the first film in the challenge that I have watched before and also the first based in the states. It’s also features the most gore of the films I have watched so far.

Planet Terror is the rare example of America being more weird than Japan.

Planet Terror is the rare example of America being more weird than Japan.

Planet Terror, also known as the film that spawned a thousand Machetes, was a film that I watched at release in theaters. The first of the two Grindhouse films release generated a lot of excitement among my friends both leading up to and after the release. We were left quoting it over and over again. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard: “Best in Texas” and “I’m gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge.” Planet Terror was one of the best movie-going experiences I have ever had, with the numerous fake trailers and the gritty, self-aware presentation. While Planet Terror is a good standalone film, seeing it makes me wish I could watch Grindhouse in theaters again.

Wendy Peffercorn just sits there lotioning and oiling and shooting people with needles

At the time, Robert Rodriguez was a name that generated considerable excitement, especially considering he was fresh off the heels of Sin City, one of the coolest films ever made. Sadly, I think this is the last good film that Robert Rodriguez has made. His name being attached to a film makes me question my anticipation anymore. Since Planet Terror was released, we’ve seen a slew of Machete films, a poor Sin City Sequel, and what I assume is a Jonny Quest that is going to feature Danny Trejo as Hadji. He’s gone down hill and has started making poor niche films, and something needs to change.

You’re looking at your new Hadji. Jonny Quest will be played by Rebel Rodriguez.

It’s disjointed at times, and filled with continuity errors (only some of which are deliberate), but that’s not what you’re thinking when you’re having a watch. You’re thinking about what over-the top gimmick is coming next. Planet Terror still holds up though. Every character, no matter how insignificant to the story, seemingly has an exhaustive backstory, and buckets of charm. You want to know more about them and hear their next witticism. It’s a trait not many films have. Not only are the characters multi-dimensional, but the action gives a considerable amount of fan-service too, making you not want to look down at your popcorn when you eat it.

It’s a film that’s worth watching. It’s also a sad reminder that some filmmakers lose their luster after a while. For all that it lacks, it is not a film that will leave you wanting. In my opinion, it’s Rodriguez’s second best, only to Sin City. I give it 4.2 LEGO arms out of 5.

A solid severed LEGO arm score.

I’m gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge.

The Omen (1976)

For my third film in the 2015 edition of 31 Movies in 31 Days is The Omen from 1976. It’s also the third film I’ve watched in a row set outside of the United States and the second to be remade thirty years later.

The Czech poster for The Omen with their alternate title “Satan is Coming”

There probably isn’t much to say about The Omen that hasn’t been said before. It’s brilliant. The score is masterful and terrifying all on its own. The acting is quality all around. It’s directed masterfully. It’s one of the best horror films I have ever seen.

Perhaps my favorite part of it all was that there’s always this lingering doubt among the characters that Damien was in fact the Devil. This keeps the film very grounded in reality, and makes the actions of those within the film conceivable. Once they display without a doubt in their minds that Damien is evil, that’s when they die. (The priest, the mother, the photographer, and the ambassador all did this). It does make for an interesting thought if you assume that all of the characters have gone mad (including the nanny), and Damien is in fact just a regular child.

Just a regular kid who likes bikes and dogs.

The Omen featured two excellent supporting performances from two actors that I’ve admired in other roles. The first, Patrick Troughton, best known as the Second Doctor in Doctor Who, was terrifying and ominous. Despite him being possibly my favorite classic Doctor, it took me a while to recognize him, as his appearance and performance was vastly different compared to what I know him from. The second was David Warner, from TRON, Batman: The Animated SeriesTMNT II: Secret of the Ooze, and several others. (He’s also appeared in Doctor Who, though his appearance was in the newer series.) His role was a bigger one than I expected, and he owns every bit of screen time he is present for. It’s hard to say of the two, which death was more gruesome, but neither were as shocking as the death of the original nanny.

MS Paint depiction of how it went down

My MS Paint depiction of how it went down

The film also featured one of the coolest shots I have seen in a while. In the beginning, in the nursery, the doctor, future ambassador, and nurse holding the newborn are all looking at the baby through reflective glass, and all of their faces are visible in a triangle. Man. What a cool shot. Here, look at it!

Look at how amazing this is.

My only regret with The Omen is that I didn’t see it when I was younger and more apt to be afraid. Still, it’s nice to know that there are classics all around that I haven’t made it around to watching. I enjoyed it thoroughly from beginning to end and am still running it over in my mind today. From Billie Whitelaw‘s Nurse Ratched-esque performance to legendary Gregory Peck‘s emergence from retirement, to Richard Donner convincing me yet again that Superman II should never have been taken away from him, The Omen will go down as one of my favorite horror films. I give it 4.8 severed lego arms out of 5.

That's pretty close to perfect.

That’s pretty close to perfect.