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Omen IV: The Awakening
It was Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist that proved moviegoers were itching to have the wits scared out of them by Old Scratch hisself -- the original bogeyman who has pervaded our collective fear for all of time. And Hollywood didn't have to look any further than The Bible itself for truly horrific inspiration, as the pages of Revelation are chock full of garish descriptions of Earth's end times, about the rise of the Anti-Christ and all the really nasty stuff he's gonna do. So, what if the apocalyptic prophecies are true? What if Satan's child WILL rise to rule the world? And what if your rosy-cheeked, newborn son WERE the Anti-Christ? That's exactly what The Omen pondered and would laboriously explore through THREE sequels -- Damien: Omen II, Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981, 108 minutes) and Omen IV: The Awakening (1991, 97 minutes). All are presented in a groovy new box set from Fox called The Omen Collection, with the fourth feature currently only available in the set.
The movie: This is great. Fox Television decides a fourth movie would be a hoot, and pays Omen producer Harvey Bernhard enough to sell his artistic soul. Now, pay attention: Damien got kilt with one of those magical Ginsu knives in the last flick, but not before he had a chance to diddle a frisky TV reporter. An unsuspecting, wealthy, politically influential couple, Gene and Karen York (Michael Woods and Faye Grant), adopt the newborn daughter of the Anti-Christ from a Catholic orphanage, where the nuns know more about the child than they let on. All that seems pretty straight forward, but wait, at the end of Omen Numero Three-o ... CHRIST CAME BACK!!! The world as we knew it ENDED! We're talking about the thousand-year reign of the J-Man on Earth. Oh well, since when did plot holes matter in Hollywood? It's much more fun to see more demonically-caused "accidents" and how much trouble the devil can stir up as a buck-toothed, snotty girl. Turns out, she stirs up quite a bit. Delia (Asia Vieira) roughs up a school-yard bully. Scares the chakra out of her new-age hippy nanny and makes a REAL mess of the psychic fair she's dragged to. True to the previous installments, Karen thinks Delia just MIGHT be evil and hires a private investigator to find out. He tracks down a nun who ran screaming from Delia's orphanage, and finds she's become a holy-rollin' snake handler. She freaks out when she sees Delia's picture and falls into a pit of rattlesnakes. The P.I. goes through her stuff, finds all sorts of newspaper clippings that reveal Delia's true father -- then, of course, he dies, but not before hallucinating some righteously wacky stuff. The flick ends with a outlandish revelation that borders on being downright CREATIVE, but certainly, um, weird. And yes, gentle Omen fan, there's an expansive opening for yet another sequel. Someone get Rupert Murdoch on the horn.
Notables: No breasts. Nine corpses. Sandwich stomping. Head tumbles. Lunch box to the cranium. Barbie abuse. One juggler. Psychic fair fireball (with fire-suit stunts). Demonic loogie. Two clowns. Snake handling. Scalpel through the hand.
Quotables: Karen's friend can't believe Delia has supernatural powers, "Like Carrie setting-fire-to-the-prom powerful?" Karen snaps at her politician husband, "Not everything is up for a vote, Gene."
Time codes: Peeping on the senator polling a constituent (11:53). Close-up pants wetting (21:13). Worst nightmare of the Jehovah's Witnesses (51:03). Hilariously unstable appearance of a undead street choir (1:17:35).
Audio/Video: This film was made for television, so some cropping may have been done to achieve a widescreen (1.85:1) ratio. It's also been enhanced for widescreen TVs. Presented with a new Dolby Digital Surround audio track, along side the original English and French tracks.
Extras: Slick-looking animated menus featuring Satanic imagery and the Omen chant. Trailers for The Omen, Damien: The Omen II and Omen III: The Final Conflict, plus these additional Fox titles: The Abyss, The Beach, Commando, Die Hard, Fight Club, Independence Day, Lake Placid, Marked for Death, The Planet of the Apes, Towering Inferno and The X-Files: Fight the Future.
Final thought: Brilliant trash. The first half is gleeful fun with Delia causing havoc -- sort of a demonic Problem Child. The last half drags, but be certain to wake in time for the pseudo-science finale. Recommended.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.