In the comment thread for “Five Things” (5.14), which was all about the superhack career of Richard Donner, someone mentioned The Omen (’76) and I jumped in with the following:

The Omen is a good creepy film of its type. The best thing about it is Jerry Goldsmith‘s score. I would have drowned Damian after realizing what he is, but that’s me. I realize, of course, that unless Gregory Peck and Lee Remick remain in a denial cocoon for years on end there’s no movie.”

Because of that posting I re-watched this 1976 film last night, and almost immediately I was scolding myself for calling it “a good creepy film of its type.” It’s not — it’s actually a very stupid film that was made in a lazy, half-assed manner with mostly awful dialogue, and was burdened by idiotic plotting.

The Omen‘s success was based upon a general audience belief in mythical religious bullshit, and it launched itself upon the lore of The Exorcist (’73), which was and is a much better film. So please accept my apology for saying what I said. I don’t know what I was thinking.

With the exception of three good scenes — the nanny hangs herself during Damian’s birthday party, the dogs in the graveyard scene with Peck and David Warner, and Warner gets his head sliced off by a flying pane of glass — The Omen is a painfully mediocre effort.

Almost every scene summons the same reaction: “Why isn’t this better…why didn’t they rewrite the dialogue?…God, this wasn’t finessed at all.”

I came to really hate the tiny, beady eyes of that young actor who played Damian — Harvey Spencer Stephens (who’s now 51 years old).

The middle-aged, warlock-eyed priest who gets impaled by a falling javelin of some sort — why did he just stand there like a screaming idiot as he watched the rod plunge toward him?

Why didn’t Peck and Remick simply fire that awful demonic nanny (Billie Whitelaw)?

Why didn’t Peck just buy a pistol and shoot that demonic Rotweiler right between the eyes, and in fact shoot all the other Rotweilers in the graveyard?

As I mentioned Friday, The Omen depends upon Peck and Remick refusing to consider the obvious during most of the running time. Refusing to reach for an umbrella, wear a raincoat or take shelter during a thunderstorm…that kind of idiocy.

During his career heyday (’45 to ’64) Peck mostly played one smart, restrained, rational-minded character after another. (His roles in Spellbound, Duel in the Sun and Moby Dick were the exceptions.) The Omen was the first time Peck was called upon to play a stuffed-shirt moron — a denialist of the first order. Okay, he starts to wake up during the final half-hour, but it’s truly painful to watch an actor known for dignity and rectitude and sensible behavior undermine the idea of intelligent assessment at every turn.

For some odd reason the footage of Rome made me almost weep with nostalgia for that city — I haven’t been there since ’17.

I could watch The Exorcist once a year for the rest of my life, but I’ll never watch another Omen film again…ever. I was truly angry at myself for wasting 111 minutes of my life.