(Pic from hollywood.dcealumni.com)
OK, cheesy might be a little unfair, because when I say "cheesy horror films," you (likely) say "Jason!"*
*When I say "sportz," you say "nutz" ...
But there's a difference between the truly, icky, awful, terrified feeling you get when you watch an unrelenting piece like Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the original ... duh) or Alien. Those are small, contained situations -- a house in the middle of nowhere, a space ship -- and neither has grand ideas nor many supernatural qualities.
Typically, when you enter the realm of Satan or 666*, there must be some sort of suspension of disbelief, since the concept of EVIL incarnate is, well, slightly silly.
*Episode 666 is an exception here.
So here we go, with The Omen, a 1976 offering (again, not the remake) from Richard Donner and Atticus Finch himself, Gregory Peck. Peck plays Thorn, a politician whose son, Damien (Harvey Stephens), is no more his son than I am. Instead, their relationship spawned from an under-the-table adoption ... and it ain't workin' out so hot for our protagonist. Because, well, Damien is the Antichrist, and Thorn (with the help of a suspecting photog played by David Warner's incredible accent) must stop the little devil (haha) by killing him. Which kinda makes dad a little uneasy, what with the moral repercussions of offing a kid and all.
The film has its share of unintentional comedy, but it seems to know it ... if just barely. Everything is played straight, but you get the sense that, deep down, everyone's winking at you (or smiling, as it were ... if you've seen the ending, you know what I mean).
Then there's the film's strongest quality, and I'm not talking about the totally badass decapitation scene (yeah, don't click on that one, all you squeamish types). IMDB's trivia section for The Omen says the following:
Director Richard Donner credits the success of the film to composer Jerry Goldsmith, whose music made the film scarier than it would have been had he not been involved.Totally. Agree.
Goldsmith won an Oscar for his work here. In a cheesy horror movie. That's how good the score is.