Saturday, October 31, 2015

THE OMEN (1976), VIDEODROME (1983)

The Omen
A Couple of Horror movies I just never got around to seeing before...

I heard a lot about The Omen when it came out in 1976. I even got the book (a novelization technically). The book had pictures of the highlights of the movie, like the nanny hanging herself or the priest getting speared or the young devil child Damien looking menacingly into the camera. I also saw clips of most of these scenes on television. But I never got around to seeing the actual movie! I even saw the sequel Damien: Omen II! So The Omen is one of those movies I feel like I've seen even though I've never seen it.

So it was an interesting experience finally watching it, because of my perceived familiarity with it.

 The plot: A well-to-do couple (An ambassador and his wife) lose a baby. The father replaces the baby with an adopted baby without the mother knowing. The problem is is that the replacement child turns out to be the devil incarnate! (What parent hasn't called their unruly child Damien at some point since this movie came out?). It is interesting that the movie is set exclusively in Europe with an American couple...Anyway, weird things start happening. Damien's nanny hangs herself. Damien gets a new nanny who turns out to be in league with Damien. (Doesn't anyone check references anymore?)

Damien does all sorts of satanic things like making mommy fall off a balcony. She survives for the time being only to fall to her death out of the window of her hospital room later. The photographer played by David Warner who supplies exposition and helps dad Gregory Peck discover the truth about Damien is one plot point I didn't know about. The photographer meets with a graphic death (If Damien had the power to kill the photographer when he wasn't even in the same country, why didn't Damien just kill dad to get him out of the way and be done with the whole deal?). But dad does come back and takes Damien to sacrifice him in the local church. The police arrive and kill dad to prevent him from killing Damien. The funeral arrives for mom and dad and Damien stares blankly into the camera.

The Omen is worth seeing for horror fans. I'm not sure it would quite make my 1001 movie book, but if I was listing 100 horror movies you must see before you die, The Omen would be in there somewhere.

I heard about this weird movie called Videodrome when it came out in 1983 and went out with the intention of seeing it. It was playing at Phiipps Plaza in Atlanta, I believe. But I had trouble finding a parking space! So I ended up getting there late and decided not to go see it. Thirty years later I still hadn't seen it...until now.

It's the story of Max (James Woods), who runs a UHF station that shows a lot of strange shit on his channel. He gets hold of a weird pirated program called Videodrome that he plans to show on his channel. He gets involved with a psychiatrist/talk show host played by Debbie Harry that likes sex and likes to play it rough! It turns out Videodrome (the show), is even weirder than Max first thought. It is apparently shot out of Pittsburgh! And is part of a political  movement!

The movie keeps getting weirder and weirder. All that view Videodrome (the show) begin to have strange hallucinations, especially Max whose stomach turns into a VCR presumably to watch more episodes of Videodrome! The movie goes on from there to uncover a big conspiracy that finds that Videodrome is trying to ruthlessly control the hearts and minds of the viewing public...which doesn't sound so sinister when you phrase it that way.

Videodrome (the movie) is something to see if you're looking for something off the beaten path. The real star of Videodrome, (still the movie) has to be Rick Baker, whose pre-CGI special effects are scary, gross, creative and effective. Obviously, the 1001 editors thought so since it is in the 1001 book...

Like The Omen, Videodrome took me awhile to get to, but there you have it, but I don't think it's gotten any easier to find a parking space at Phipps Plaza.

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