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Richard Donner’s The Omen doesn’t make parenting look easy. In fact, it makes it look like a living hell. First, imagine you, Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) stand to possibly become US Ambassador to the UK (and if you have rich parents, this might come easier to you). Things seem to be going well, right? You even get your wife Katherine (the beautiful Lee Remick) pregnant — which you likely didn’t mind doing, especially when you aspire to be a loving father. However, about nine months later, things start going wrong.

Imagine Katherine loses the child at birth, then the hospital chaplain secretly offers you another child, so your wife doesn’t have to know. If you accept such an offer, how would you feel about it? Well, chances are you’d have mixed feellings already. However, let’s say that, over time, you get strange feelings about this replacement kid, who you have named Damien (Harvey Spencer Stephens). Curiously, he never gets sick or seems to have headaches. Then, your hired nanny (Holly Palance) then makes a rash decision at your son’s birthday party (to put it nicely), permanently weirding you out about birthday cakes.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-omen-scared-1024x435.jpg
Goodness gracious! Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox

It doesn’t stop there, however. You’re being pestered by some warped old Priest (Patrick Troughton). Damien freaks out about attending a wedding ceremony at a church, fighting his mother violently before he can be brought onto the steps of the cathedral. Your wife also finds out that zoo animals are terrified of your boy, with giraffes fleeing and baboons threatening to attack her car in the safari park.

What the hell is going on? Also, what does that weird photographer guy (David Warner) want? Between him, that Priest, your wife’s depression, and this new nanny (Billie Whitelaw) who’s too obsessed with her dog, you must emphatically ask again: What the hell is going on?!

Wait For It…

Hell is exactly what is going on! It seems your wife is right to regard Damien like an alien presence. He’s not just a bad boy, a slacker, or a struggling musician. As “The Omen” presses on, much of the subtlety disappears, and the happy family seems lost for all time. The mood of this film also lends weight to it. For example, its haunting score, provided by the brilliant Jerry Goldsmith. As the choral voices chant in a sinister fashion, you really don’t need the words translated into English to sense the foreboding of evil (Goldsmith won his only Oscar for this score, by the way).

This movie has been identified for quite some time as a horror classic, and it conveys a lot of traditional horror moods. Nevertheless, “The Omen” doesn’t provide some masked, hulking villain at a campsite or a beast who comes out only under a full moon. Sure, this film has some far-fetched elements, but its somber tones and incrementally evil atmosphere are hard to match.

In fact, it’s so hard to duplicate that, if you really think about it, The Omen hasn’t really been touched much by parodies. It’s like even dumb-ass horror-comedy goofballs are like, “Nah, we should just leave that classic film alone.” It doesn’t help that the film’s production was considered to be cursed.

Overlooked Political Details of The Omen?

Okay, okay, I might be building this movie up too much for first-time viewers. But why the uproar? Well, with The Omen, there’s a little more than meets the eye. There are little subplots you might find, if you’re careful enough to look. For example, this movie actually does delve into politics, ever-so-slightly. Or is it all subtle? Actually, The Omen strongly suggests that evil arises from the world of politics. In fact, Peck’s character is right alongside it, and he actually seems like a relatively good, normal guy. It’s even suggested that the evil nature of his position is practically inevitable. It will lead to turmoil.

Granted, Damien exists as sort of a symbolic element, but this hardly even qualifies as a “crazy fan theory” regarding the first film. There are other hints of underlying political strain. Robert and Katherine are generally on the serious side, and they often end up in some needlessly tense conversations. While this could be a commentary on the characters themselves, and their unique situation, it no doubt also comments on the high-stress nature of his position. Though it initially seems they’ll have it easy, it seems the two are never quite happy. Reality keeps raining on their parade, and Damien’s hidden nature also represents the dark secrets people keep.

Also, let’s be real: Katherine seems like the type who ends up shouting at her servants, especially when her husband is away. She might not be a villain, but she seems to have disdain for people below her “station” in life. This aspect of the story isn’t exactly prominent, but you can see how she regards the nanny during that one key scene. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that such an exchange occurred.

The Great Dilemma and What Wouldn’t Have Worked in the Story

At one point in The Omen, Robert almost walks away from his newfound and terrible responsibility. Damien initially had a loving adoptive family, but now that Robert knows the truth, can he do what he knows must be done? Now, obviously, a movie could be written about a zillion different ways. David Seltzer could have introduced so many elements making this movie far less serious and impactful.

Imagine, if you will. Mr. Thorn getting a little help from a cocky vampire named Andy before he runs out of time. Now that addition would suck, right? My suggesting that could make you roll your eyes, ask, “What in the hell is he thinking by introducing that idea?!” Well, that’s exactly my point. It would’ve been absurd to make this movie any less serious.

The story was very enjoyable for what it was, and part of the drama is the horror, and vice versa. There’s also no movie quite like it. Perhaps it’s not the greatest horror film of all time, but you can’t quite say it’s predictable, and in some ways very interesting. It seems the average first-time viewer will be curious to find out what happens next. It’s safe to say there’s still a lot of mystery in this one, too. Fortunately, it’s safe to rewatch this every so often, too, although it’ll never have the same impact as that first viewing.

What arte your thoughts on The Omen? It’s all for you in the comments!

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The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine Special Live Watch Party February 10th!

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The sweet putrid stench of love lingers through the air which can only mean one thing…Valentine’s Day and its annoying little winged cherub mascot, Cupid, is fast approaching. Soon, partners will be spoiling one another with extravagant bouquets of roses, heartfelt Hallmark cards, obnoxiously large teddy bears, glistening diamond jewelry, and heart-shaped candies or boxes filled with assorted mediocre chocolates. You know? Normal things couples do. I tend to prefer my chocolate boxes filled with bleeding hearts, à la ‘My Bloody Valentine’ but, beggars can’t be choosers, right? All jokes aside, Valentine’s Day is special for many couples, however, there are also many others who find themselves celebrating this day without a significant other. Luckily, Shudder, along with drive-in king Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) will graciously be keeping us lonely mutants’, and yes, all you horror fanatic couples’ company on Friday, February 10th as they return with The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine, premiering live at 9pm EST.

Love Spells Abound…

Back in 2021, Joe Bob and Darcy invited us to a gruesomely passionate night of spell-binding love witches and animatronic dinosaurs infused with teenage human brains during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You. Many, including myself, were introduced to the tantalizing 70’s inspired retro throwback ‘The Love Witch’ and the graphically goofy cult classic ‘Tammy and the T-Rex’, providing the perfect viewing pleasure to mend any broken heart. While the two films for this year’s morbid love-induced special have yet to be announced, as a special treat, Briggs has announced for the first time on The Last Drive-In, he will be marrying one lucky couple during the live showing. We here at HauntedMTL are eagerly awaiting the return of the ghoulish duo so, as is tradition, we will be proudly hosting a watch party on Twitter during the broadcasting of The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us  @hauntedMTL as well as @shudder@therealjoebob, and @kinky_horror to partake in this night of unholy love.

Drawn image of Joe Bob Briggs pouring  a drop of pink liquid into a clear glass potion bottled filled with a glowing red substance. To his left lies a book a magic spells with a golden pentagram necklace resting on top. Also on the books rests a human skull with heart shaped pupils for eyes hiding behind a pair of clear glasses. In bold white letters a text reads "Join us on February 10th as we live tweet The Last Drive-In Valentine's Day Special".
Follow @hauntedMTL for live tweets and replies!

What started off as a one-time special premiering on Shudder July 13, 2018, ‘The Last Drive- In’ was originally meant to be Brigg’s swan song; one last special before hanging up the bolo tie in retirement. However, due to so many mutants, excuse me…viewers tuning in and breaking the Shudder servers, it was only natural to announce an official full season of ‘The Last Drive-In‘, which would make its explosive debut March 19, 2019. Since then, Darcy and Briggs have spawned many exclusive holiday specials, have graciously donated to many charities within the community, and have accumulated 4 seasons of ‘The Last Drive-In’, with a fifth currently in production premiering on Shudder’s 2023 schedule sometime this year, let’s hope sooner rather than later.

Picture of Joe Bob Briggs, Darcy the Mail Girl, John Patrick Brennan and Yuki Nakamura standing together dressed in medieval costumes. A cardboard cutout of Tom Atkins stands between Darcy and Yuki. Darcy is seen drapped in a beautfiul elegant princess dress, satin white with gold trim. Yuki is seen holding a small wreath of purple, white, and yellow flowers that match his loud medieval king costume. Resting atop both their heads are golden crowns. Joe Bob Briggs is seen standing to the left of Darcy, as he smiles whilst wearing a half-put together jester costumer. Lastly, we see Brennan with two wooden recorders in his hand as he mimics playing them both dress clad in a bright yellow dress.
An unexpected ceremony during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You (2021) special.

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Movies n TV

Horror Noire, a Film Review

Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”

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Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.

As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.

The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.

Woman and man wearing a vote for candidate shirt, scared of something off screne
Image from “Sundown” Directed by Kimani Ray Smith

What I Like

Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.

My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.

However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.

Woman listening to a preacher amidst a crowd
Image from “Fugue State” directed by Rob Greenlea

What I Dislike

As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.

Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Dahmer, Silenced

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Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.

Rodney Burford in Dahmer

And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.

Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.

Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship. 

Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.

Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar. 

At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.

Then, of course, things go bad. 

One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.

If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.

This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today. 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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