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Monday, July 10, 2006

Anagrams, pentagrams, whatever

UPDATE 2: Seeking further answers to this ancient mystery, I re-watched the 1976 original again on DVD. Purely for research, of course. It's not like I'm getting obsessive or anything. Two interesting pieces of trivia...

1. Bob Munger, a Hollywood producer credited as the film's "religious adviser", mentions in the DVD bonus material that he's a born-again Christian and he sold David Seltzer on the plot of The Omen as a way of getting the [W]ord out.

So maybe Omen does have more in common with Left Behind than I first thought; ie, Omen is to Left Behind as The Passion of the Christ is to The Jesus Video.

2. Originally the Thorns were called the "Thorpes", because Seltzer, an American, wanted to make the family a UK political dynasty and he said "There was this guy in the British Parliament at the time, named Jeremy Thorpe..." Indeed there was. He was also indirectly commemorated in "Dr Who", in one episode (screened while JT was leader of the UK Liberal Party) where someone refers to the UK Prime Minister as "Jeremy". Which makes two links between these two great British low-budget monster sagas.

Correction: Actually there are three links. Not counting "naff mid-Seventies tufts-over-the-ears hairstyles" and "waa-waa background music that's meant to be frightening".

UPDATE 1: O-o-o-ka-a-a-ay.... Sounds like The Omen might yet get pulled from cinemas, like other Liev Schreiber remakes:

"She talks about a prophecy," [defense attorney George] Parnham said. "These children of hers needed to die in order to be saved," he added, "because Andrea Yates was such a bad mother that she was causing these children to deteriorate and be doomed to the fires of eternal damnation". Parnham said that Yates believed she had the sign of the devil, 666, burned on her scalp, and she begged therapists to look at her head. What they found, Parnham said, was not the sign of the beast, but scabbing from where Yates had tried to pick away the numbers she thought were there...

-- Lisa Sweetingham, "Defense: Yates killed kids to save them", CourtTV (27 June 2006)

Just saw The Omen (2006 remake) at the cinema. A few random thoughts...

1. Cinema foyer still festooned with posters for The Da Vinci Code. If I were the Pope, I'd be tempted (NPI) to take Dan Brown to a private screening of O-06 and then at the end quiz him: "So! Now you do want us to send out secret order of Darth-Maul-style assassin monks around Europe, no?"

2. The Pope is played by an actor named Bohumil. Which has got to be one of the funniest movie-credits ironies since Richard Marx performed the main song for a film about deposed Romanov tsarina Anastasia (1997) -- or since Frida Kahlo, an unrepentant Marxist, was played by the world’s second-most-famous Hayek.

3. Given the film's plot, it's more than a little disturbing that star Liev Schreiber's name is an anagram of "SHEER EVIL CRIB". And that no one else on the planet seems to have spotted that before me.

4. Also that writer David M Seltzer's name is an anagram of "DMZ DEVIL STARE". And that no one else has realised this either.

5. But Julia Stiles' name only anagrams to SAT JUL LIES. Ummm... okay... maybe one could link that to "Tues 6 Jun 2006" at a stretch. A big stretch.

6. And "Damien Thorn" is only an anagram of "MADE IN NORTH". Although given how (according to the original Omen III: The Final [sic] Conflict [1981]) ThornCorp plots to take over the world by controlling its food production, maybe this is a, you know, North/ South First World/ Third World thing.

Okay... Enough with the anagrams, before I start plastering the walls and ceiling of my priest's hole with them. So dark the con of man...

7. In Omen I, Damien seems to know what he's doing. But in Omen II, he's [SPOILER ALERT] shocked -- shocked! -- when Neff tells him his true origin and destiny. Soloviev handled this side much better, a century ago.

8. Ironies... Mia Farrow did play the mother of Satan's child in Rosemary's Baby, but this time [SPOILER ALERT] there is no, uh, human mother.

9. Is this, like, international year of not using the most obvious Rolling Stones song for the movie theme? We at Father Mackenzie strongly endorse this, deeply opposed as we are to all cheap hijacking of Sixties/Seventies cultural icons.

10. David Seltzer was a lucky man in Hollywood. He was given that rarest of mercies, a second chance. An even better second chance than George Lucas had: Seltzer got to re-write and re-film his big mid-'70s 20th Century Fox hit on a fresh canvas, not merely tinker with CGI editing to insert images of dragon-like creatures and to clarify who fired the first gunshots. So what does Seltzer do with this chance? He still spells Damien's surname as THORN, with no E. Strewth, David, heaps of people spell it with an -E on the end. It's like "Clark/e". You can spell it either way. The problem is, if you spell it without an -E, the Antichrist's name "Damien Robert Thorn" is only 665, one short. (Hey, my names are also 665...). So Damien still misses the mark (so to speak), leaving Ronald Wilson Reagan as the leading contender.

11. Re Damien’s visit to the zoo. (1) Why is it that Talking Beasts in Narnia can’t recognise the Antichrist walking among them, but Dumb Beasts in England can? (2) Shouldn't Damien be off chatting with the Burmese (or Brazilian) python? (As well as thanking the huge, mysterious black dog for watching over him, and trying to hide his distinctive head scar under his thick hair?).

12. So are they now going to re-make Damien: Omen II and The Final Conflict as well? The final scene of O-06 [SPOILER ALERT] may have eliminated the need for the second movie in the trilogy. The problem is, The Final Conflict just wasn't credible. I can suspend disbelief enough to allow magic daggers and jackal surrogate mothers; but the idea that a man can get to the White House despite a long string of mysterious and unresolved deaths of those around him is too fantastic.


Adam Crowl said...

Utterly pointless movies and utterly pointless series of books ("Left Behind" I mean) as JC already came back in 70 CE 'with the clouds' in Judgement against faithless Jerusalem.

Or so the Preterists would have us believe. In context of their times both John the Baptist and JC were prophesying to avert a national disaster, 'foreseen' by the popular interpretation of 'Daniel' and other prophecies. That three Gospels end his public preaching with the punchline of JC's prophecy should be a big clue.

Tom R said...

Thanks, Adam. Bob Munger's evangelistic (in both senses) role in the Omen movies, or at least the first thereof, surprises me because by the time of Episode III, the trilogy veers off into heresy, yea, gross heresy. The idea that Jesus would be re-born as a baby in 20th-century England seems more like some weird offshoot of British Israelism. And the idea that you can avert the Tribulation by killing the Antichrist (or at least his physical body) seems as hard to reconcile with Rev 13:3 as the idea that you can avert the Tribulation by running around the Montana hills in SUVs and combat fatigues.

I mean, it's hard to argue that any particular reading of the Apocalypse is "not textually plausible", but these two franchises seem to have found one each.

Plus, the Omen trilogy leaves out the Four Horsemen! Just as The Rapture leaves out the Two Beasts and the Dragon! Dammit [NPI], doesn't this fall under the anathemata of Rev 22:19...?

Anonymous said...

Julia Stiles anagrams to "Sea Just Ill"

Anonymous said...

...but "Genesis" is "See Sign"