Damien: Omen II (1978) – Don Taylor, and Mike Hodges

After the success of Dick Donner’s The Omen in 1976, the company was eager to deliver a sequel, and we see a story that gives us a teenaged Damien (Johnathan Scott-Taylor), living with his uncle, Richard Thorn (William Holden) and aunt, Ann Thorn (Lee Grant), while attending a military academy.

As strange deaths begin to once again pile up, Damien begins to learn his true nature, and those working with him, and those working to stop him. I was delighted as I watched the film to see both Allan Arbus, who was appearing as Dr. Sidney Freedman on MASH show up in the film, as well as one of my all time favourite character actors, Lance Henriksen!

There are deaths aplenty throughout the film, though the elevator sequence one is probably my favourite, but there isn’t a lot going on in this film that makes it different from the first, though Dick Donner is undenibaly the stronger director here. They’ve simply taken a lot of the same beats from the the first film and transposed them into a new film centered around a slightly older antichrist.

Scott-Taylor is a solid Damien, especially as he begins to struggle with who he is, while Lance Henriksen seems to ge the short shrift and is completely underused.

And while there are some fun momemnts throughout the film, it doesn’t stand up to the original, and my real memories of the film, aren’t even tied to the movie itself.

I remember going to my grandparents’ home, my father’s parents, and my grandfather was a huge reader, he always had at least one book on the go, and there were piles of novels everywhere, rooms full of them. Not in a hoarder kind of way, simply in a I’ve got tons of books to read and get through, and I need to organise piles accordingly.

So whenever I finished the book I had started the trip with, I would go through the piles of books to find something to entertain myself with. So, despite the fact that it wasn’t really scary, the novelisation of Damien: The Omen Part II was my first horror novel.

I remember going through the book, and being a little freaked by some of the pictures featured in the eight page inset, but I also remember flying through the book itself, even though I was only about eight or nine. I was a voracious reader even then.

So even though the movie may not have been as exemplary as it could have been, there’s always going to be a tender spot for it in the nostalgic corners of my heart because it lets me recall those visits to my grandparents, and delving through the books to find something cool to read.

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