Damien – Omen II (1978) | Stills : Gallery
Damien the Antichrist, now age 13, finally learns of his destiny under the guidance of an unholy disciple of Satan. Meanwhile dark mystical forces begin to eliminate all those who suspect the child’s true identity.
Damien: Omen II, is a 1978 American horror film directed by Don Taylor, starring William Holden, Lee Grant, and Jonathan Scott-Taylor. The film was the second installment in The Omen series, set seven years after the first film, and was followed by a third installment, Omen III: The Final Conflict, in 1981.
This was Lew Ayres‘ final film role and the film debut of Meshach Taylor. The official tagline of the film is “The First Time Was Only a Warning.” Leo McKern reprises his role as Carl Bugenhagen from the original film; he is the only cast member of the series to appear in more than one installment.
A couple of scenes from the film April Love (1957) were used.
A week after the burial of Robert and Katherine Thorn, archeologist Carl Bugenhagen (Leo McKern) asks his friend Michael Morgan (Ian Hendry) to deliver a box to the guardian of Thorn’s young son, Damien. He reveals that Damien is the Antichrist and that the box contains a warning and the means to kill Damien. As Morgan is unconvinced, Bugenhagen takes him to the ruin of Yigael’s wall, showing him an ancient depiction of the Antichrist with Damien’s face. Morgan is now convinced, but the two are buried alive as a tunnel collapses.
Seven years later, 12-year old Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) is living with his uncle, industrialist Richard Thorn (William Holden) and his wife, Ann (Lee Grant). He gets along well with his cousin Mark (Lucas Donat), Richard’s son, with whom he is enrolled in a military academy. However, he is despised by Aunt Marion (Sylvia Sidney), who favors Mark and thinks Damien a bad influence, even threatening to cut Richard out of her will if he does not separate the two boys. The same night, the appearance of a raven wakes her and causes a fatal heart attack.
Through a friend, Dr. Charles Warren (Nicholas Pryor), who is the curator of the Thorn Museum, Richard is introduced to journalist Joan Hart (Elizabeth Shephard). She was a colleague of Keith Jennings (David Warner) from the previous film. Having seen Yigael’s Wall, she draws a link to all the deaths that surrounded Damien, including Jennings’s. She tries to warn Richard, but he throws her out of his limousine. After a confrontation with Warren and Ann Thorn at the Thorn Museum, she becomes unsure as to whether Damien’s face matches the painting on Yigael’s Wall. Hart goes to meet Damien at his school, but, when she sees his face, she drives off in a panic. On the road, her car’s engine mysteriously dies. She is attacked by a raven, which pecks her eyes out. It flies away and, blinded, she wanders into the street where she is run over by a passing truck.
At Thorn Industries, manager Paul Buher (Robert Foxworth) suggests expanding the company’s operations into agriculture; however, the project is shelved by senior manager Bill Atherton (Lew Ayres), who calls Buher’s intention of buying up land in the process immoral. At Mark’s birthday, Buher introduces himself to Damien, invites him to see the plant, and also speaks of his approaching initiation. Buher seemingly makes up with Atherton, who drowns after falling through the ice at a hockey game the following day. A shocked Richard leaves on vacation. As Richard agreed to the agriculture project in principle and left him in charge of the company, Buher then initiates the plans on his own.
Meanwhile, at the academy, Damien’s new commander, Sgt. Neff (Lance Henriksen), takes the boy under his wing and warns him not to draw any attention to himself until the right moment. He also points him to Revelation, chapter 13, in which Damien reads about the beast. Finding its number, 666, scarred onto his scalp, he flees the Academy grounds in a terrified panic, distraught at being chosen as the vehicle for Satan’s will.
Another Thorn employee, Dr. David Pasarian (Allan Arbus), alerts Buher that some people were murdered after having refused to sell their land. Before Pasarian can inform Richard the next day, his is the victim of a fatal accident at work. He and his assistant are killed by toxic fumes released from machinery that mysteriously exploded. The accident injures Damien’s class, who were visiting the plant. Damien alone is unharmed, but is taken to the hospital as a precaution. A doctor (Meshach Taylor) discovers that Damien’s blood cell structure resembles that of a jackal, but, before he can report this, he is cut in half by a falling elevator cable.
Meanwhile, Bugenhagen’s box has been found in the ruins and delivered to the Thorn Museum. Dr. Warren opens it and finds the Seven Daggers of Megiddo, the only weapons able to kill Damien, along with a letter explaining that Damien is the Antichrist. Warren rushes to inform Richard, who angrily refuses to believe it and throws him out of the house. The next day, Richard confronts Anne with the letter, but she convinces him that it is preposterous.
Mark, who overheard Richard’s altercation with Warren, confronts Damien, who first reluctantly and then proudly admits to being the Devil’s son. Damien tries to convince Mark that he truly cares for him as his brother and asks Mark to join him, but Mark refuses. Damien kills Mark by introducing an aneurysm into his brain. Almost immediately, Damien is overcome with grief and horror when he realizes that he killed Mark.
Shaken by his son’s death, Richard follows Warren’s invitation to New York. A half-crazed Warren takes him to Yigael’s Wall, stored in a cargo carrier, on which a horrified Richard sees Damien’s image. Seconds later, a switching locomotive impales Charles and crushes him against the carriage, destroying the wall and convincing Richard beyond doubt that Damien is the Antichrist.
Upon his return, Richard has Damien picked up from a ceremony at the academy and argues with Ann about him. When they find the daggers in Warren’s office in the Thorn Museum, Ann uses them to kill Richard, proclaiming that she “always belonged to him”, which implies that Ann is the Whore of Babylon. Ann is then engulfed by a fire, caused by Damien who overheard the altercation from outside. Damien exits the museum and is picked up by the family driver, Murray, as the fire department arrives. The movie ends with Damien smiling down at Murray, foreshadowing that Damien is now heir to Thorn Industries.
- William Holden as Richard Thorn
- Lee Grant as Ann Thorn
- Robert Foxworth as Paul Buher
- Lew Ayres as Bill Atherton
- Sylvia Sidney as Aunt Marion
- Jonathan Scott-Taylor as Damien Thorn
- Nicholas Pryor as Dr. Charles Warren
- Lance Henriksen as Sergeant Daniel Neff
- Elizabeth Shephard as Joan Hart
- Lucas Donat as Mark Thorn
- Allan Arbus as David Pasarian
- Meshach Taylor as Dr. Kane
- Leo McKern (uncredited) as Carl Bugenhagen
- Ian Hendry (uncredited) as Michael Morgan
David Seltzer, who wrote the first film’s screenplay, was asked by the producers to write the second. Seltzer refused as he had no interest in writing sequels. Years later, Seltzer commented that had he written the story for the second Omen, he would have set it the day after the first movie, with Damien a child living in The White House. With Seltzer turning down Omen II, producer Harvey Bernhard duly outlined the story himself, and Stanley Mann was hired to write the screenplay.
After Bernhard had finished writing the story outline and was given the green light to start the production, the first person he contacted was Jerry Goldsmith because of the composer’s busy schedule. Bernhard also felt that Goldsmith’s music for The Omen was the highest point of that movie, and that without Goldsmith’s music, the sequel would not be successful. Goldsmith’s Omen II score uses similar motifs to his original Omen score, but for the most part, Goldsmith avoided re-using the same musical cues. In fact, the first movie’s famous “Ave Satani” theme is used only partially, just before the closing credits begin. Goldsmith composed a largely different main title theme for Omen II, albeit one that utilises Latin phrases as “Ave Satani” had done. Goldsmith’s Omen II score allows eerie choral effects and unusual electronic sound designs to take precedence over the piano and gothic chanting.
Richard Donner, director of the first Omen movie, was not available to direct the second, as he was busy working on Superman. British film director Mike Hodges was hired to helm the movie. During production, the producers believed that Hodges’ methods were too slow, and so they fired him and replaced him with Don Taylor, who had a reputation for finishing films on time and under budget. However, the few scenes Hodges directed (some of the footage at the factory and at the military academy, all of the early archaeology scenes, and the dinner where Aunt Marion shows her concern about Damien) remained in the completed film, for which Hodges retains a story credit. In recent interviews, Hodges has commented sanguinely on his experiences working on Omen II.
Academy Award-winning veteran actor William Holden was the original choice to star as Robert Thorn in the first Omen, but turned it down as he did not want to star in a picture about the devil. Gregory Peck was selected as his replacement. The Omen went on to become a huge hit and Holden made sure he did not turn down the part of protagonist Richard Thorn in the sequel. Lee Grant, another Oscar-winner, was a fan of the first Omen and accepted enthusiastically the role of female protagonist-later-turncoat Ann Thorn.
Ray Berwick (1914–1990) trained and handled the crows used for several scenes in the film. Live birds and a crow-puppet were used for the attack on photojournalist Joan Hart. Berwick also trained the avian actors in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963).
The movie was mainly set in Chicago and was largely filmed in downtown Chicago. The “Thorn Industries” building was actually Chicago’s city hall. Another scene took place atGraceland Cemetery. Scenes set at a New York City freight area were also shot in Chicago, with the CBOT Tower and the Willis Tower visible in the background.
Other locations included Lake Forest Academy‘s campus, which was used as the Thorn Mansion, the Northwestern Military and Naval Academy‘s Geneva Lake campus, which was used for the military academy, with real Geneva Lake students portraying most of the academy cadets, and Catfish Lake in Eagle River, Wisconsin for the skating scene, with local children playing the skaters. The Thorn Museum aka Field Museum of Natural History was also used in several scenes throughout the film including some of the movie’s final minutes.