Damien: The Omen Part II was a sequel to a fairly effective horror film that dispensed with the best part of the original – the creepy kid. Nothing in film is more unsettling than children, even if they are not meant to be repulsive or malevolent. The idea that a bundle of joy will kill both his adoptive parents was bothersome for me as a child, but as a father and generally paranoid person, I view him with an unhealthy amount of suspicion. When my son plays around in my parked car, I wonder if he is tampering with the brakes. At the close of The Omen, Damien has seen his foster father gunned down by policemen as he lay helpless on an altar, and it is suggested he is then adopted by the President of the United States. In 1976, this was considered the most powerful position in the world. These days it would have been the President of Kraft or Exxon, which would make for an awesome trilogy. In Part II, Damien has been sent to military school, and the creepy kid factor is replaced by the less effective whiny bitch-faced teenager factor. He is learning the truth about his diabolical pedigree, and coming to terms with what he must do. The actor is terrible, and annoying, and witnessing the angst of the Prince of Darkness is not gripping cinema. Heroes are more interesting when they are conflicted, but when one learns that their father is Satan, a good cry just should not be in the cards.
There is a whole lot wrong with Part II, starting with the whole thing being ridiculous and the storytelling awkward at best, and facepalming at worst. The ominous AWOO… HOOTIE HOO… of the original is replaced by a brooding synthesizer track, so clearly there is something amiss. Damien as a snotty adolescent is introduced walking towards the camera, which pans left to superimpose a burning pile of leaves in front of Damien. Subtle stuff… the demon of landscaping is upon us! Infodumps occur so as to lay the groundwork for building Damien’s empire, but it is presented in such a tedious way that we fear the rise of the Antichrist only to avoid the apocalyptic boredom. The whore of Babylon, with 10 heads for 10 kings, each granted power on Earth by Satan. The Thorn family industry is poised as one of these ‘kings’. Their business manufactures crop lines and fertilizers, as famine is good business. In addition, they buy farmland to control the means of production and deny people the ability to provide for themselves. So they are Monsanto. Damien is discovering his talents for inducing fear, but the actor is so bad that his threatening presence comes off as goofy as fuck. In one scene, he simply stares at another kid and he runs screaming into the nearest wall, prompting horror in my heart. No wait, that was hilarity. He is surrounded by apostate protectors, including a completely wasted Lance Henriksen and a creepy fucker with ear to ear carpeting that demanded a razor. Part of what makes The Omen work is that the devil is everywhere and nowhere, a ubiquitous and fearsome presence. This is scary if you were brought up Catholic, but this also destroys the series, because one cannot be omniscient and unaware. Some of the devil’s enemies are able to get very close to his son before they are dispatched, so He is either stupidly overconfident or a lazy sack of shit. Not a good movie by any stretch – in fact the story sucks and the characters are only lined up to be knocked down.
Still, this is an Indefensible article, so there must be something redeeming therein. As with The Omen, the real draw was the occasionally startling means by which the enemies of the devil are aced. In this way, Damien: The Omen Part II excels. The plot is shit, so we shall skip to the meat, so to speak.
Buchenhagen, the exorcist from the first film, is racing like a motherfucker through the streets of Judea, and when he gets to his destination, we can see what the big hurry is. A catacomb is unearthed that reveals the face of the son of Satan. And so we see the face of Damien as a child, and then as a young adult. Daddy doesn’t dig this spoiler, and so he pulls in the ceiling, and dumps the entire desert into the catacombs. A slow burial is a bad way to go, and we see him solemnly suffocate. Though an expert in the field of devil stuff, he neglected to use a camera. His last words – “The antichrist is with us…”. That’s a terrible thing to realize. Not a flashy kill, but it gets better.
2. The eyes have it
Now we are getting into it. A reporter is made aware of Damien’s identity; she used to work with Bootyhiggy. She reveals to the uncle acting as Damien’s guardian that her boss’s body has been recovered, and that blearghlblag starts yammering about the Bible, and not surprisingly is thrown out for being a lunatic. Or a terrible actress. Either way, the bitch has to go. So a crow is Satan’s form du jour, and birds are very good at attacking the eyes. While on an isolated country road, she is enucleated. Dizzy with pain, she wanders onto a road and is smacked by a Mack truck, and tossed against the trailer, then rolled over by all 18 wheels. The only way to make the minge deader is to have her devoured by ants, but in the interest of time, we shall move on. Because it gets better.
Damien is at a birthday party, so per tradition somebody must get killed off. This time it is an old guy at Thorn Industries who is concerned about ethics. Really, he was just introduced; you see better character arcs in Friday the 13th. He is playing hockey and goes through thin ice. He is sucked in by the current and he hammers at the underside of the ice until he drowns. This is one of the worst ways to go that I could imagine. Okay, not so great, but since the film must sustain interest with a steady stream of corpses, there is inevitably a macabre padding.
4. Going Down
A scientist notices that Damien’s blood is that of a jackal. Why this would be evident under a microscope on routine examination boggles the mind, but let’s give the guy a break, because he is a black guy in a white man’s horror film. He takes the elevator, and it turns out to have failed an inspection or two. It shoots up to the top floor, stalls, then drops like a greased pig on stairs. It hits bottom… and the guy is okay. Well, that was a disappointment. Just when our erection starts to subside, the counterweight cables bust free, and shoot down at what appears to be terminal velocity to shear the fucking elevator in half, as well as our scientist. The worst of this is that the descending aorta was probably cauterized shut, so the guy has time enough to contemplate that he is, actually, 3/5 of a man.
Another executive with the Thorn Museum (they own a museum which is acquiring Satanic artifacts including the wall upon which Damien’s face is engraved) shoots his mouth off about the son of the devil. These people tend to talk a lot, as if it takes a shouting match to awaken Satan. Damien’s cousin Mark overhears this, and is convinced with one read of the Bible. After a walk in the forest, he is cornered by Damien, who demands his loyalty as he declares himself The Desolate One. Mark refuses and Damien force chokes him to death. Not an interesting death, but kind of a cool power to have. Which brings us to the executive who shot his mouth off. He is standing in a railroad yard, and a train bearing evidence of Damien’s identity is about to leave the station. He is hit from behind by a train coupler, which pushes him along, and he hangs on for dear life to avoid being cut in two like the bum from Emperor of the North Pole. Alas, this does not save him, as the train couples with another car, pinning our friend in between. In reality, this could takes hours to kill a person as there would be only slow blood loss with the major vessels under clamp. No survival would be possible, as there is no practical surgical way to cut the body in half. There would only be the slow and agonizing death while realizing you have failed to stop Satan’s dorky offspring.
This, and the death of his only son, convinces our protagonist, played by the overqualified William Holden as a complete pussy, to kill Damien the brat. He arms himself with the sacred daggers to kill the Son, and is compelled to tell his harpy of a wife exactly what his plans involve. Even when in danger he is unable to so much as take a piss without his wife’s approval. And so she takes the daggers and stabs him in the balls. It might have been the chest, but maybe they failed to descend in the first place. Damien incinerates the entire museum including the foster mother who protected him. Okay, that was boring, but once a load is shot, it cannot be reloaded so quickly.