Graham Baker, 1981
Starring: Sam Neill, Don Gordon, Rossano Brazzi
After the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. commits suicide, he is replaced by Damien Thorn, now a 31 year old CEO who has continuously grown in power throughout the last few years. Aware that he is the son of Satan, Damien is preparing for the Apocalypse. He soon learns that a second Star of Bethlehem will appear, which heralds the second coming of Christ. To prevent this, Damien orders his disciples to kill all male children in Britain born on a specific date in March. While he is mostly successful, one of his followers hides that his own son was born that day. Damien is also distracted by his budding relationship with Kate Reynolds, a journalist who happens to have a young son, Peter. Peter and Damien bond and he takes Peter as a young disciple.
Damien is also being hunted by seven priests, led by Father DeCarlo, who each have one of the seven daggers of Megiddo (from The Omen and Damien: The Omen II). These are the only tools that will kill Damien. The priests are almost all killed off by Damien, but one survives for an ultimate show down where the son of Satan must face off against the infant son of God. It's as ridiculous as it sounds.
If you consider that The Omen was made in 1976 and Omen III was made in 1981, it’s pretty incredible that Damien went from five years old to 31 in just five years, but continuity is really the least of the film’s problems. Though Richard Donner (The Omen, Superman) was supposed to return to direct, he was unable to due to issues with Superman II and serves as producer here. Sci-fi/fantasy director Graham Baker (Alien Nation, Beowulf) replaced him, though I can’t say he did a lot for Omen III, which is a dull and routine affair. Much of this seems to be the fault of screenwriter Andrew Birkin (The Lost Boys, The Name of the Rose, The Cement Garden), which is a shame, because Birkin - brother of more famous actress and singer Jane Birkin, long time partner of Serge Gainsbourg - scripted a number of excellent, entertaining films. Granted he had little to work with by this third attempt at The Omen series.
The only conceivable reason to watch this movie is Sam Neill. Still relatively unknown at this time, he was a great choice to play the adult Damien, but unfortunately could not overcome the script. Allegedly his good friend James Mason helped him get the role over actors like Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando, who were considered. He has some nice speeches - or turns silly dialogue into something likable - and glowers convincingly at the screen. It was also here that he met actress television actress Lisa Harrow (From a Far Country). She also did a decent job with her role as Kate, Damien’s journalist love interest. If it seems like they had good chemistry together, it’s because Harrow and Neill began dating during this period, a relationship that would last throughout the ‘80s.
There aren't a lot of positive things I can say about Omen III. Overall it is a cheap affair only made somewhat interesting by Neill's appearance. There was stock footage used from both The Omen and Superman II and relatively little visual effects compared to the first two films. Much of the violence is implied and takes place off screen, though there is a nice scene where Damien orders the murders of several new born babies. Granted this could have been a lot more graphic and mostly comes across as unintentional comedy. In general, the death scenes are absolutely ridiculous. The seven monks that try to murder Damien fail miserably and generally succeed in killing themselves in the most absurd ways possible.
Very little about the film is shocking or horrific, aside from a surprise sex scene between Neill and Harrow, where anal sex is implied. There’s a slow pace and an anticlimactic conclusion, despite the fact that the film’s title is The Final Conflict and, let's face it, Larry Cohen is the only person who has convincingly pulled off a confrontation between an adult and a baby. I can't recommend Omen III, but if you really love Sam Neill, it might be worth checking out as a curious part of his early career. The film is available as part of The Omen Collection. This was preceded by The Omen and Damien: The Omen II and followed by a made for TV movie, Omen IV: The Awakening (1991).