The Omen appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Given the nature of the source, this felt like a good representation.
Overall, the movie seemed crisp and well-defined. Occasional interiors looked a little soft, but some of that resulted from the style of photography. The film never came across as indistinct as it presented good delineation.
I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering. Edge haloes remained absent, and outside of a small speck or two, print flaws failed to appear.
Colors leaned toward an earthy feel, and the Blu-ray replicated them well. Nothing jumped off the screen but the hues appeared natural and full.
Blacks also were deep and firm, while low-light shots offered nice definition and opacity. The transfer lacked any serious problems and presented the movie well.
The Omen featured the movie's original monaural soundtrack plus a remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. The soundfield for the 5.1 version was fairly innocuous but it helped spread out the image.
Music showed very good stereo imaging, and effects occasionally broadened the track’s horizons. This usually came up via general environmental material, though a few louder scenes created greater involvement.
Storms and the baboon attack were the most prominent examples, and the 5.1 track even managed to present some split-surround material at times. This could feel a little awkward, but the mix usually offered a fairly smooth impression.
Audio quality showed its age but sounded pretty positive. Though speech could be a little thin, the lines lacked edginess and were always easily intelligible.
Effects suffered from only a smidgen of distortion, and they showed decent definition and punch. The louder parts kicked out fair range and power.
Music fared best, as the score was clear and reasonably dynamic. This was never a particularly impressive mix, but given the age of the source material, it did well for itself.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2006 Collector’s Edition DVD? The lossless audio added a little pep, but the two remained fairly similar due to the limitations of the root material.
Visuals showed format-related improvements, so the Blu-ray looked better defined and had stronger blacks/colors. The Blu-ray turned into a nice upgrade.
As we begin with the set’s extras, we find three separate audio commentaries, and the first comes from director Richard Donner and editor Stuart Baird. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion.
Donner can be engaging and entertaining, as he showed during the track for Lethal Weapon 4, but this piece largely falls flat. Unfortunately, there are plenty of silent spots, and when the two do speak, too many of their statements fall into the "remember him/her/that?" category.
Most of the discussion relates to general production info. The most interesting elements connect to a change in the film’s title, story alterations, and a few run-ins with Gregory Peck.
Occasional useful tidbits appear, but for the most part, I find this commentary uninteresting. There’s a lot of praise for the film and all involved. Donner and Baird seem to be old friends, and it sounds like they used the session to get reacquainted instead of telling us good tales about The Omen.
For the second commentary, we hear from Donner and screenwriter Brian Helgeland. Both also sit together and create a running, screen-specific chat.
Why is Helgeland here? I don’t know.
Helgeland had nothing to do with the creation of The Omen or its remake, though he did work with Donner on Conspiracy Theory. I guess he and Donner just like to hang out together, so someone thought Helgeland might bring out the best in the director.
Unfortunately, this commentary doesn’t work a whole lot better than its predecessor. In truth, it covers much of the same material, and you’ll hear many of the same stories and tidbits.
A few notes come with more detail, as we hear an extended version of the baboon story. However, little fresh information appears.
Helgeland offers some story dissection, and that helps keep him involved, though he occasionally overreaches. For instance, he reads the fact that David Warner’s character wore scarves as foreshadowing, while Donner explains he did so to cover a skin condition.
This commentary doesn’t provide much that we don’t hear in the prior track, but it does so in a more engaging and complete manner. It still suffers from too much praise, but at least it gives us reasonable detail.
For the final commentary, we hear from film historians Lem Dobbs, Nick Redman and Jeff Bond. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific view of music, cast and crew, story and characters, filmmaking elements and genre domains.
This becomes a fairly good chat but not one that excels. We get some good insights – especially related to composer Jerry Goldsmith – but the overall package never quite becomes better than average.
Another audio feature comes via an Isolated Score. This delivers Jerry Goldsmith’s work via Dolby 5.1 audio. It’s too bad the score isn’t lossless, but this still becomes a nice addition.
Alongside the film, you can enable the BonusView/Trivia Track option. This comes with two components.
As expected, the “trivia track” part presents text throughout the movie. Alas, it does so with woeful infrequency. We learn a few decent tidbits but we simply get far too few notes to gain much knowledge about the movie.
In addition, “BonusView” boasts 16 video segments that fill a total of 24 minutes, eight seconds. Across these, we hear from Baird, Donner, religious advisor Robert Munger, writer David Seltzer, pastor George Bonsangue, composer Jerry Goldsmith, and special effects supervisor John Richardson.
The “BonusView” clips look at story/characters, cast and performances, music, stunts, effects and working with animals, and Biblical areas.
The text and the videos can be viewed together via branching on enabled players, but if yours doesn’t support BonusView, you’ll be fine. You can run the trivia track with the movie and check out the featurettes separately, which is what I did. I hate branching interruptions so I prefer to watch the clips on their own.
Given the nature of the presentation, the “BonusView” clips come across as disjointed when viewed as one big package. Still, we get some good notes, so the segments merit a look.
We find a one-minute, 55-second Introduction by Director Richard Donner. He tells us a little about problems getting the film made and its legacy.
Donner also talks about how terrific the 2006 DVD is. As with most introductions of this sort, nothing particularly interesting happens here, though he makes a funny comment toward the end.
Next comes Curse of Coincidence?, a six-minute, 19-second featurette that covers some of the spooky events that surrounded the production of the film. Though it duplicates some of the stories from the commentaries, it becomes fairly interesting and entertaining.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find Jerry Goldsmith on The Omen Score. This gives us a mildly in-depth look at his creation of the film's music during which we see interview snippets with Goldsmith in which he talks about four different pieces of the score, and each of these is followed by the music in question.
The program lasts 17 minutes, 41 seconds total; the segments can be watched individually or as one running piece. Goldsmith doesn’t offer great detail, but he manages to give us some good notes.
After this we get 666: The Omen Revealed, a 46-minute, 15-second documentary about the movie. This show combines circa 2000 interviews with Donner, Baird, Goldsmith, Seltzer, Munger, producer Harvey Bernhard and executive producer Mace Neufeld.
On the negative side, this program doesn't offer a very coherent telling of how the film came to exist. It touches on the important issues but does so in a fairly haphazard manner.
I also think it provides too many scenes from the movie, as these go on too long for my liking and seem unnecessary. I would have enjoyed some behind the scenes footage or stills from the production, and the absence of any actors seems odd.
Lee Remick died in 1991, but Gregory Peck was still kicking in 2000. David Warner also was – and is – alive, and since he does a cameo in the 2006 remake, that spooky little kid obviously was around somewhere.
Despite those flaws, "666" provides a generally interesting and entertaining piece. The various anecdotes we hear offer the most pleasure, as there are some good stories involved.
I also really like the moments in which Donner and Baird detail the unusual editing used in one scene. It's an inconsistent program, and it certainly could have been better, but it's definitely worth a look.
New to the Blu-ray, Richard Donner on The Omen goes for 14 minutes, 36 seconds. Here Donner discusses his career and how he came to Omen as well as story elements, cast/crew and aspects of the production.
Despite all the other programs on this disc, Donner manages a good array of fresh details here. While we get a little repetition, this becomes a largely solid show.
This set packages a documentary entitled The Omen Legacy. Produced in 2001 for the AMC cable channel and narrated by actor Jack Palance, this one-hour, 41—minute, 38-second documentary covers all four flicks: 1976’s The Omen, 1978’s Damien: Omen II, 1981’s , and 1991’s Omen IV: The Awakening as well as an ill-fated TV series pilot. However, don’t expect equal time for the quartet, as Omen remains the king of the hill.
After a quick introduction, Legacy launches into its discussion of The Omen. Like most documentaries, Legacy uses a standard format that alternates movie clips, archival materials and interviews. For the 47-minute Omen segment, we hear from Seltzer, Neufeld, Donner, Bernhard, Munger, Richardson, Church of Satan high priestess Blanche Barton, minister Reverend Doug Posey, former Fox studio executive Alan Ladd Jr., professor of theology Dr. Felix Just, , and actors Martin Benson and David Warner.
We hear of the film’s inspirations from the Bible, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Exorcist. The participants also go over the religious tenor of the era, the growing popularity of Satanism at the time, the evolution of the story and the film, writing the script and shopping it to the studios, obtaining Donner as the director, getting it to Fox and refining the project.
From there we go through casting and the need for a major star, finding a kid to play Damien, the eerie atmosphere on the set, the director’s take on the story, visual effects, anecdotes from the set, studio issues with the ending, and marketing and reactions to the film.
That synopsis makes the program sound more informative than it actually is. To be sure, these portions cover a fair amount of ground and give us a reasonably decent examination of the flick’s creation.
Unfortunately, scads of film clips appear, and these heavily retell the story. It also covers a lot of territory examined elsewhere in this package, so don’t expect anything particularly new. Ultimately, this part of “Legacy” offers a decent but somewhat thin and superficial look at the making of The Omen.
Next we learn about Damien: Omen II in an 18 minute segment. This includes remarks from Seltzer, Bernhard, Barton, Just, film critic Leonard Maltin, and actors Lee Grant and Lance Henriksen. They chat about Seltzer’s refusal to pen the sequel, issues related to the story, casting, spooky production problems, the firing of the original director, story concerns, escalated gore, its ending, and the negative critical reception accorded the flick.
I liked the negative reactions to the film, and we get some surprisingly honest comments about it. That said, the Omen II piece concentrates too much of movie clips and a short version of the story, so we really don’t learn much about it.
Matters deteriorate more for the 18-minute look at Omen III: The Final Conflict. This presents statements from Bernhard, Posey, Just, Barton, Munger, and actor Lisa Harrow.
They chat about the story casting, the real-life romantic relationship between Sam Neill and Harrow, more about the gory content, the second coming of Jesus factor, difficulties coming up with gruesome deaths, more examples of “The Omen Curse”, protests conducted by Satan worshipers and a real-life controversy tagged to the first flick, and the film’s reception.
The majority of the piece simply retells the plot, and the elements that attempt to examine the movie really reach for information. Comments about the gore are pretty useless and seem like thin stabs at content.
Next we get 12 minutes that examine the TV film Omen IV: The Awakening. We hear from Bernhard, Munger, former Fox network executive Paul Nagle, and actors Faye Grant and Michael Lerner.
We learn why the flick existed, the development of its story, more examples of the “Omen Curse”, the execution of some of its effects, the replacement of the original director, and the lack of ratings success. Once again, we learn little about the making of the film and find out mainly about its story. Don’t expect much useful content here.
The last portions of the show look at NBC’s attempts at an Omen TV series and various valedictory comments about the series. This area includes statements from Donner, Benson, Bernhard, Munger, Grant, and Henriksen. Donner’s criticism of the series – which never made it past a pilot – seems interesting, but the rest is little more than fluff.
Unfortunately, the same goes for “The Omen Legacy” as a whole. As I noted earlier, it’s an odd movie series to examine since only the original film enjoys any real “legacy”.
That fact seems implicit in the flat and uninformative notes about the various sequels that don’t tell us much more than just their plots. Absolute Omen die-hards might enjoy this documentary, but I find it to offer little of interest.
Fans will be more interested in a Deleted Scene. Called “Dog Attack”, this clip lasts one minute, 26 seconds and comes with commentary from Donner and Helgeland.
This isn’t optional commentary; you can’t deactivate it since the segment lacks its original audio. Donner basically just narrates the scene and doesn’t tell us much about it.
Is the clip interesting? Yeah, I think so. It’s a pretty frenetic sequence toward the end of the movie, and it might’ve been too much in the final product. On its own, it’s pretty fun to see.
Screenwriter’s Notebook goes for 14 minutes, 51 seconds and presents notes from Seltzer. He tells us that he did The Omen because he really needed money and goes through his research and story development.
Seltzer then relates cinematic inspirations, challenges of the horror genre, and the script’s path to the screen. He also chats about title changes, Donner’s approach to the flick, the impact of post-production, what he would have done with the sequel, and the film’s legacy.
After so many prior programs, I wasn’t sure what new material “Notebook” could bring to the table. Happily, it gives us lots of details we don’t hear about elsewhere.
Seltzer presents many nice notes with elements that don’t appear in the other shows. For instance, we learn that Charles Bronson almost did the flick at one point! (The anti-Christ wouldn’t have lasted too long against Old Death Wish.) This is a tight and informative little show.
For the perspective of a horror bigwig, we get An Appreciation: Wes Craven on The Omen. The director chats for 20 minutes, 17 seconds as he offers his appraisal of the movie.
Craven views it in the context of the genre and gives insight into various aspects of the flick. Inevitably this leads to some happy talk, but Craven brings out more than enough depth and introspection to make the program useful.
Finally, a Still Gallery presents 297 images. These mix behind the scenes shots, snaps from the film, and publicity elements.
We find some good photos here, but the format doesn’t work well. The disc should break up the stills into subdomains to make them easier to access. As it stands, it mixes up the different topics and makes it tough to re-examine favorite images later.
Despite its status as a horror classic, I can’t say The Omen does a whole lot for me. It occasionally seems decently spooky, but it can't maintain these moments over the long haul. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and extras along with pretty positive audio. While I don’t love the movie, this becomes a nice release of it.
To rate this film visit the original review of THE OMEN