Saturday, July 31, 2010

Something different

I don't go in much for horror. Not my cup of tea. But I recently ended up watching some anyway. Funny how that happens!

First there was Rosemary's Baby. I wanted to see this one mostly because John Cassavetes was in it. Unfortunately, this was a couple months ago now, and I forgot to write it up at the the time, so I've lost most of the impressions and comments I wanted to write down about it. I remember it felt long though it didn't lose my interest, was creepy in a few sections (the telephone booth!), John Cassavetes had some great lines, Mia Farrow is just plain strange. The supporting actors, particularly Ruth Gordon and Patsy Kelly, were hilarious... and creepy. I know I'm never eating chocolate mousse again unless I make it myself! LOL! The ending grew on me after I thought about it later.

This week, I watched remake of The Omen, and then the original again. I'd seen the original a long time ago, and watching the remake I kept thinking, doesn't this happen just like this in the original? So then I had to watch the original again to confirm. Remakes seem to fall into a couple different categories, and this one was basically a replica of the original, just with a different cast. So imagine my great surprise, when I found I actually rather liked the remake! Not something I ever expected to do, but parts of it worked really well, in some ways better than the original, in others, not so much.

The best part of the original (besides Jerry Goldsmith's score) is Gregory Peck. What makes the movie work so well is that he's one of the last actors you expect to find in a horror film. He's so upstanding and solid. But that's also exactly what the movie needs. You need a hero who doubts what he's being told until he has the proof himself. And hearing Gregory Peck shaking with rage and affrontry when he says "He wants me to murder a child!" Well, nobody does that kind of verbal anger better than Gregory Peck.

Lee Remick is also perfect as his wife, she has that fragile edge that just fits. The remake has Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles. I really liked Liev, but Julia Stiles seemed miscast. I like her a lot as an actress, but not in this film. She seemed far too young, and lacking... something. Not quite sure what.

From a casting aspect, I have to admit... the remake has the most delightfully brilliant bit of casting, putting Mia Farrow in as Mrs. Baylock. It's just too perfect, after her turn in Rosemary's Baby! I really am not fond of her, but she was just perfect and I genuinely liked her in it. The strawberry scene.... eeeeeeek! Freaky.

I think, ideally, I'd like a combo of the two versions. Combine the cast: Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, but David Thewlis and Mia Farrow. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore David Warner... and he's great as Jennings, but I liked the vulnerability of David Thewlis better. As for Damien, the original kid is far more creepy, though I had no problems with the second one either.

The new movie has a long winded beginning that really needs to go. I'd definitely keep the original's opening and cut to the chase... but I like the new movie's finale better. The way Liev played it really got to me, made it more emotional and personal. The cemetery scene in the original is vastly superior. The new one wimped out there. And as for the deaths... well both movies are just about equally gruesome, so either works -- with the exception of (SPOILERS!!!! highlight to read) Mrs. Thorn's death in the hospital. The new movie made that scene truly and utterly frightening, so I'd take that version.

For the score, obviously, I'll take Goldsmith's score any day, though the remake wasn't bad, particularly as it pulled in a couple themes from the original in places, and the Ave Satani made a welcome, albeit short, appearance in the end credits. (And I know it probably sounds weird, it being horror and all, but that song will get stuck in my head for damned near weeks at a time. Like now.)

I also watched Damien: Omen II, which I had only seen the first half of before. It's a waste of time. It simply repeats the plot of the first film -- adoptive parents discover they're raising the anti-christ -- and does nothing new with it. Been there, done that, folks, what's the point here? It could not have been more predictable, and they clearly have no idea what to actually do with Damien. Very shoddy world-building. The one idea that would have made it interesting (Damien's genuine friendship with Mark) doesn't go anywhere. The bad guys supporting Damien do nothing, the good guys do nothing, the people who know the truth are all incapable-of-speaking-coherently raving lunes who have no idea how to actually tell anybody what they've found out, and the entire film seems just an excuse to kill people in new and exotically gruesome manners. No, thank you. This middle movie just needs to vanish, even if William Holden is in it. Speaking of which, the actors were all fine in this film (love Leo McKern and Sylvia Sidney!), they were just given nothing interesting to do. Quite a shame, actually, as it could have been a good movie if they'd tried something original.

And I think that's enough horror films for me for awhile.


  1. Ever seen the third Omen film? It's definitely better than the second, but that's damning it with faint praise... It's mainly fun to see Sam Neill chew the scenery with gusto.

    1. Hi Michael - yep, I've seen the third one. Actually, I saw the third one first, so I sort of watched the trilogy backwards. But I'm a huge Sam Neill fan, so it was watched many years ago. Definitely better than the second. I should watch it again one of these days.