October 6th -- Horrific Children

The Omen (1976)
Directed by Richard Donner

More successful as a mystery than as a demon horror film, The Omen relies more on the underlying history behind the demonic occurrences than actual terror for its graceful introduction. Gregory Peck is in full overarching form, toting the wonderful David Warner as a photographical sidekick alongside his political figure. It’s the film that made the triple-6 insignia common knowledge as Satan’s symbol, as well as providing one of cinema’s more frightening child entities in Damien. It’s obviously a signature Richard Donner film, complete with consistent musical stylings and cinematography -- and it’s very good as a tense mystery.

But I’ll always remember The Omen for its fantastic scene at the zoo when Damien frightens all of the animals. In particular, there’s a scene where he sends several giraffes galloping for the meadows away from the demon child. Think about it: there are not too many films that feature life-action giraffes, especially with them photographed in such close proximity and intimacy. Their quick gallop from Damien works as the catalyst to the idea that he might actually be the spawn of Satan, an idea reaffirmed by like reactions from baboons and other zoo creatures. The Omen makes itself more eerie and captivatingly mysterious by using these minor elements with grace, from the historical context revolving around Satanism to that core idea of animals fleeing from evil. But my favorite part, without question, comes in the scene where Peck's character slowly clips the hair away from Damien's head as he reveals his true "roots".

Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Directed by Roman Polanski

Ah you’ve got to love Roman Polanski’s way with human interaction. He has so much fun making his audience feel uncomfortable while they watch his characters fumble between themselves, such as with The Tenant and Chinatown. When he infuses Rosemary’s Baby -- a film riddled with equal Polanski flavors -- with the radiant Mia Farrow, it creates a warmer environment for the film’s initial moments. She’s cast perfectly as the gentle maternally-driven housewife, which really helps once Polanski’s film flies off the handle and becomes an exercise in unnerving discomfort. It’s funny how such discomfort can seem so natural and … comfortable.

Part of soaking in Rosemary’s Baby arises in taking in the rich architecture of the luxurious -- albeit echoic -- New York apartments. It’s a domestic horror film, a common thread in several of Polanski’s films, one captured in some rather beautiful set designs that craft a hauntingly tall atmosphere. It’s all a clever ploy; Rosemary’s Baby lures its audience into its mannerisms, nudging them along with developing paternal instincts towards a barrage of disturbing dream imagery. Oh, but then it begins to radiate evil as the lead grows more pregnant and less healthy with a sallow disposition, and Polanski’s horror masterwork really pushes forward with making skin crawl around the core themes of certain pagan witchcraft and birthrights. There’s something splendid about seeing Mia Farrow’s bright-eyed Rosemary as she’s sent through the gauntlet of despondency, a demeanor heightened by its gradual guidance into a world of erratic madness.


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