Richard Donner’s typically impersonal, unimaginative megging works nicely in setting up the devilish doings in the first half of this influential pic. It grounds the horrors in the realm of the possible. But it's not long before you start to notice that gruesome doings is all the film's got going for it. (Like waiting for the next car crash at a sub-par car race.) Luckily, Jerry Goldsmith’s stupendous score (with all those tasty Stravinsky flavorings) works wonders in racheting up the tension. Gregory Peck’s natural gravitas added commercial respectability to the anti-Christ humbug (the film was surprise smash), but in many ways the dopey sequel looks better and has more fun with the same basic ideas.* Here, the one thing you can't quite shake off is Billie Whitelaw's nanny. She's like REBECCA’s Mrs. Danvers on speed, and darn scary.
DOUBLE-BILL: *As mentioned, DAMIEN: THE OMEN 2.