The Omen



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Directed by Richard Donner and written by David Seltzer, The Omen (1976) is perhaps the best in the devil-child cycle of movies that followed in the wake of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. Released to a highly suggestible public, The Omen became a major commercial success, in no small part due to an elaborate pre-sell campaign that played and preyed on apocalyptic fears and a renewed belief in the Devil and the supernatural. Since polarising critics and religious groups upon its release, The Omen has earned its place in the horror film canon. It’s a film that works on different levels, is imbued with nuance, ambiguity and subtext, and is open to opposing interpretations. Reflecting the film’s cultural impact and legacy, the name ‘Damien’ has since become a pop culture byword for an evil child.
Adrian Schober’s Devil’s Advocate entry covers the genesis, authorship, production history, marketing and reception of The Omen, before going on to examine the overarching theme of paranoia that drives the narrative: paranoia about the 'end times'; paranoia about government and conspiracy; paranoia about child rearing (especially, if one strips away the layer of Satanism); and paranoia about imagined threats to the right-wing Establishment from liberal and post-countercultural forces of the 1970s.

Author Information

Adrian Schober is a Melbourne-based film writer and scholar with a PhD in English from Monash University, Australia. He is the author of Possessed Child Narratives in Literature and Film: Contrary States (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), and co-editor (with Debbie Olson) of Children in the Films of Steven Spielberg (Lexington, 2016), Children, Youth, and American Television (Routledge, 2018) and Children, Youth, and International Television (Routledge, 2022). He is Senior Editor on the board of The Journal of Children in Popular Culture.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Chapter 1: From the Eternal Sea He Rises28
Chapter 2: The Devil Delusion38
Chapter 3: Until Man Exists No More72
Chapter 4: Satanic Anti-Hero80