Earlier this week, the announcement was made that former Walking Dead show-runner Glen Mazzara is penning a script called Damien for Lifetime, which will serve as a made-for-TV sequel to the 1976 version of satanic masterpiece The Omen. The film will center on an adult Damien, who is coming to grips with the fact that he is the Antichrist.
As we await the return of Damien Thorn and his devilish ways, today we reflect on a very controversial aspect of the film that brought him into our lives – an aspect that suggests that maybe, just maybe, the very making of the film placed a curse on all involved.
It’s not uncommon for horror movies dealing with the Devil to have alleged curses attached to them, and previous films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist both have numerous behind the scenes stories that would perhaps lead you to believe the Devil himself was on set. But no horror film has a more convincing curse history than The Omen, with many cast and crew members being injured and even killed, before, during and after the production.
Is The Omen truly cursed? Let’s recap the horrifying events and then I’ll let you decide.
Though it’s likely that this first piece of evidence is unrelated, it’s nevertheless worthy of noting that star Gregory Peck‘s young son Jonathan, a television news reporter, killed himself in 1975, a mere two months before filming was to begin on The Omen. Peck of course played Damien’s father Robert in the film, and many have suggested a connection between his taking on of the role and the death of his son. According to reports, Jonathan Peck shot himself in the head, with no clear reason given for his suicide.
The first piece of truly eerie evidence of an Omen curse came when the planes of Gregory Peck, executive producer Mace Neufeld and screenwriter David Seltzer were all struck by lightning, while producer Harvey Bernhard narrowly avoided being hit by a bolt, while standing on the ground. Thankfully, nobody was injured in any of the situations, though it’s undeniably pretty damn strange that four different members of the cast and crew in four different areas were hit/almost hit by lightning at around the same time. Cue Twilight Zone theme.
Directed Richard Donner was also targeted by the so-called demonic curse, as a hotel he was staying in was bombed by the IRA. Donner was also struck by a car at one point while leaving the office of producer Harvey Bernhard. And speaking of bombings, it’s alleged that the IRA also bombed a restaurant Neufeld and Gregory Peck were scheduled to eat at, right around the same time Donner’s hotel was hit.
At one point during the filming, a plane was chartered for the purpose of taking aerial shots, though a last minute change of plans led to a different plane being used by the crew. The original plane had engine trouble at takeoff and ended up crashing, killing everyone on board. Similar reports indicate that Gregory Peck had also cancelled a flight that ended up crashing, leaving no survivors.
In addition to many of the rottweilers used in the film attacking their handlers, which is fairly unusual considering they’re trained not to do so, a tiger handler who was a part of the crew was killed just two weeks after filming wrapped. He was allegedly pulled headfirst into a cage, and eaten alive by one of his tigers.
The string of bad luck connected to the production continued in the months after everyone moved on with their lives, and perhaps the most horrifying aspect of the entire curse reared its ugly head when special effects artist John Richardson was involved in a gruesome car accident in Holland on August 13th of 1976, which beheaded his female passenger. Oddly enough, Richardson is the man who designed the memorable decapitation scene for The Omen, and it’s said that the real-life accident was eerily similar to Jennings’ death scene.
It’s also rumored that when Richardson emerged from the car, after the accident, a road sign up ahead informed him that he was 66.6 kilometers away from a town called Ommen. Though there indeed is a town in the Netherlands that goes by that name, it’s likely that this part of the story was made up, in an effort to make the chilling story all the more chilling – as if it needed to be any more chilling that it already is, right?
Omen stunt coordinator Alf Joint nearly lost his life around the same time on the set of A Bridge Too Far, which was filmed shortly after The Omen. During a stunt that involved Joint jumping off a building onto an inflatable surface, he was apparently pushed by some sort of unseen force, falling off the building and landing on the ground, rather than the inflatable safety net. The stuntman survived the fall, and no explanation has ever been provided as to who or what pushed him to his near-death.
Is this string of events mere coincidence or evidence of something much more sinister? I’ll let you decide. Let’s just hope the so-called ‘curse’ doesn’t continue, now that Damien is being brought back to life…
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