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The Omen - David Seltzer

”...And then shall arise a contemptible one whom royal majesty has not been given. He shall come by counterfeit means and obtain the Kingdom of flatteries. Armies shall be swept away before him and broken...and he shall act deceitfully and he shall become strong with a small people. Without warning he shall come into the richest parts; and he shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers’ fathers have done, scattering among the people plunder, spoils, and goods. He shall devise plans against strongholds, he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every God, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of Gods. He shall prosper until the indignation is accomplished, for what is determined shall be done.”

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The movie poster for the 1976 version starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick.

Jeremy Thorn and his wife Katherine have been struggling to conceive. Katherine teeters on the edge of the precipice of insanity. They believe that if only they could have a child it would give Katherine something more to focus on than her own unhappiness. They have miscarried a couple of times and now finally a pregnancy is coming to term. Katherine is hospitalized in the 8th month and the fears of losing yet another child are gnawing at their already shattered nerves.

She loses the child…but wait.

Father Spilletto pulls Jeremy Thorn aside and said “do I have a deal for you” (and the devil deals the cards). A child is presented to Thorn. A cherub, healthy, and the wife doesn’t ever have to know. Thorn overwhelmed with emotions and realizing what losing another child will do to his wife...accepts. I could almost hear the whisk whisk of the priest rubbing his hands together with satisfaction over another bargain made. 

The child is in place. His name is Damien.

Haven’t we all at times wondering if our child was the spawn of satan? Those moments when their head starts spinning around on their shoulders and for a moment I am amused and even enthralled... well until the fish start falling from the sky and a cloud of locust descends. Grilled grasshopper as a side dish to fried fish is fine for a while, and better yet if the damn wine hasn’t been turned into blood, but it doesn’t take long for me to want them to officially declare themselves Demon or just an annoying little twerp. If they are a DEMON I can turn them over to a priest or make a call to Sam and Dean Winchester, but if they are just an annoying little twerp?

*Sigh*...then I have to keep trying to find ways to communicate and coexist with this entity.

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Sam and Dean are on my speed dial.

Damien is an odd little fellow. 

”He’s like a little man from Mars,” Horton once remarked to his wife. “Like he was sent here to study the human race.”

His first nanny hangs herself as an act of devotion to Damien. A Mrs. Blaylock appears and declares herself the new nanny. Jeremy and Katherine are suspicious, but not suspicious enough. Damien seems to like her and her devotion to his welfare is without question, but when she starts to push Katherine aside the Thorns find themselves locked in a battle with the “hired help” for time with their son. 

A priest named Tassone arrives at Thorn’s office spouting gibberish and really he is too desperate for the salvation of his own soul to appear as anything other than a lunatic. He was for lack of a better term “the cleaner” for Spilletto. He has much to atone for. He has very little time to convince Thorn that his son is not what he seems or actually that he is exactly what he seems. The forces around Damien are starting to circle Tassone. 

Jeremy soon finds himself on his way to Rome hoping for answers to explain what and who Damien is. What bargain did he really make with Father Spilletto? Who are those people in the grave North of Rome protected by dogs that could have stepped out of the script of a Resident Evil movie? 

”The bushes began to rustle and another dog’s head appeared; this one gray, its muzzle disfigured and dripping. Then another appeared, and another, the cemetery coming alive with motion as the darkened figures emerged from everywhere, a pack of at least ten, insane and ravenous, their mouths dripping in a continual drool.”

A Devil Child’s best friends. 

The dying words of a priest send Thorn to Jerusalem to track down a man named Bugenhagen, the last of a long line of exorcists. He is living underground at the heart of the beginning of Christianity in the City of Jezreel, town of Meggido. It is the only place where he is safe. He explains to Thorn what he must do. 

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The 2006 remake of The Omen stars the lovely Julia Stiles, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick and Liev Schrieber

This book launched a franchise of books and movies. Even though I had a good idea of the plot it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. I will certainly be on the look out for signs of the Diabolical Trinity. ”The Devil, The Anti-Christ, and The False Prophet. If your children or your grandchildren are born with a full head of hair find a reason to shave their head and look for a trinity of numbers that will send a shiver down to your toes...666. I hope you don’t find them. This is another entry in my 1970s nostalgic horror tour.