The Omen by David Seltzer


The Omen, David Seltzer, 1976

My favorite quote: “It happened in a millisecond. A movement in the galaxies that should have taken eons occurred in the blinking of an eye.” 

Most interesting characters: Jeremy Thorn, the coldly ambitious United States Ambassador to England and adoptive father of the sweet-faced, cherub-cheeked antichrist; Katherine Thorn, the scowling-one-minute-and-manic-the-next mother to said sweet-faced, cherub-cheeked antichrist; Damien Thorn, the sweet-faced, cherub-cheeked antichrist himself; Father Tassone, a priest who tries to put a stop to Damien’s master plan

Opening scene: Jeremy Thorn is waiting in a room at a hospital in Rome where his wife, Katherine, is having a baby. Eventually, the hospital chaplain comes in and basically says, “Look dude, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is, your baby’s dead. BUT … your wife doesn’t know that because we didn’t tell her! And as luck would have it, we just happen to have a brand-spanking new baby whose mother died in childbirth in another room, so why don’t you just take this one and we’ll call it good?” To which Jeremy reluctantly replies, “Sure, why not?” (I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the idea). So Jeremy and Katherine go home with their new son who isn’t actually their son (but Katherine doesn’t know that) and they name him Damien  

The gist: Damien isn’t like other children. I mean, he kinda is — he’s annoying and bratty like other children, but he’s, like, extra, extra rude. Probably because he’s evil — a fact that his adoptive father Jeremy Thorn, slowly begins to realize after Damien causes the death of his nanny, and later, his mother’s unborn child. Also, he throws tantrums when he gets close to a church, zoo animals are terrified of him, his real mother was a jackal, and the only person who can stand him is his new nanny, Mrs. Blaylock, and that’s only because she’s an agent of the devil. Come to think of it, he really isn’t all that different from other children, but the point is, he’s the antichrist, and as Jeremy — along with a twitchy photographer and a stalkery priest — try to put a stop to his plans of world domination, humanity hangs in the balance and it’s really stressful for everyone involved. Except Damien. He’s got 99 things to do today and giving a fuck ain’t one of them 

Greatest strengths: David Seltzer’s prose is sharp and clear. Unlike that little shit, Damien, who thinks he can do whatever he wants, you can tell David Seltzer is disciplined and put some pretty hard work into The Omen. I say that because simplifying complicated plots and situations is not an easy task. David Seltzer makes it look easy 

Standout achievements: With the exception of the endless plethora of “The Exorcism of (insert random girl’s name here)” books and movies out there, I’m a sucker for religious-themed horror, and The Omen is one of the reasons why. David Seltzer did it right. The Omen is intriguing, imaginative, and above all else, actually pretty scary. Especially Damien. As someone who is repulsed by children in general, I may not be the best judge, but that was one seriously effed-up little dude 

Fun Facts: David Seltzer may like writing about evil little bastards like Damien Thorn, but he also has a soft side. His credits include Lucas, the 1986 teen movie starring Corey Haim, Charlie Sheen, and Winona Ryder, Punchline with Tom Hanks and Sally Field (who used to be a flying nun — a fact that’s just a little too coincidental for my taste) and Shining Through with Melanie Griffith and Michael Douglas, which I don’t think anyone’s ever heard of

Other media: Okay guys … gird your loins because this is going to take a minute … *ahem* … The Omen was first adapted into a film in 1976 starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick (Mmm … Lee Remick …)  which spawned the sequels Damien: The Omen II, Omen III: The Final Conflict, and Omen IV: The Awakening. In 2006, The Omen was adapted into film again, this time starring Liev Schreiber, Mia Farrow, and Julia Stiles (if there’s one actress who leaves me cold, it’s Julia Stiles — but her icy, nasty, emotionally detached portrayal of Katherine Thorn didn’t bother me.) It worked in the movie because, I mean, you’d probably be a little crabby too if you were trying to raise the devil’s spawn while your husband was out gallivanting around at political lunches like he’s all important and stuff. Sometimes I go around glaring and sniping and scowling just like Julia Stiles in every Julia Stiles movie ever made and all I have is a cat, so I can’t judge. Anyway, there was also a Netflix series, Damien, starring Barbara Hershey and Bradley James in 2016, and there have been several documentaries about The Omen. (You’re probably getting as winded as I am by now, but I’m almost done, I promise.) Those documentaries are as follows: 666: The Omen – Revealed, The Omen: Legacy, and The Curse of The Omen. Long story short (too late) a lot of people have seriously cashed in on David Seltzer’s book about the antichrist 

Additional thoughts: You know, this is exactly why I don’t have children. Not only are they sticky, moist, and rather dense, but — as David Seltzer clearly illustrates in The Omen — they’re evil, too. I mean, I have nothing against a child taking out an annoying nanny or two, but I think Damien got a little carried away with this whole “I’m-going-to-rule-all-of-humanity” thing. 

What it taught me: That you should never, ever, take random babies home from the hospital  

Hit or Miss: Hit

Haunt me: alistaircross.com 

Read The Omen by David Seltzer

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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