Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
Many horror franchises focus on the kills and recycle material to make a quick cash grab. Very few of them attempt to evolve the central terrorizer and deepen the mythology.
Rated R (or not rated), about 533 minutes.
Available for purchase through Scream Factory.
The Omen series ventured into new territories with each chapter, especially the first three films. While the results are relatively mixed as a whole, it at least made grand efforts to keep from being stationed.
There have been five films in The Omen franchise — the original trilogy, a barely related fourth film and the 2006 remake (mainly made so distributors could release it on 6/6/06). This isn’t the first time the collection has been released in bulk fashion, but Scream Factory certainly gives it some shelf appeal and sprinkles some new features to make any horror hound bark.
The 1976 original film, starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, is considered one of the most chilling horror titles of all time. When you consider its story about a (secretly adopted) child who is the Antichrist, all the death scenes (“Look at me, Damien! It’s all for you!”) and the parents’ fear of who they are raising, it is damn scary. Maybe not in an in-your-face kind of way, but it will haunt you. The famous decapitation scene alone will burrow in your brain.
As a parent, I may question the logic of the characters (like why the hell would you allow a mysterious nanny watch over your child when you don’t know their full story?). However, director Richard Donner (The Goonies and Superman: The Movie) deserves credit for maintaining a consistent mood (balancing horror and drama). He assembled a first-rate cast and gave the film staying power.
Even 1978’s Damien: Omen II manages to be an adequate sequel. It details the larger religious mythology and chronicles Damien as a troubled teen at a military academy. You could sum it up as a coming-of-age film about a kid who discovers his malicious purpose. Strange things start to happen, and people become suspicious. Some challenge Damien while others support him. (His relationship with Lance Henriksen’s sergeant character is frighteningly captivating.)
How things wrap up, particularly what transpires between Damien and his cousin, feels like you’re getting an origin story of an iconic supervillain. It may take some time to generate speed, but once it finds its footing, Omen II runs and chases you to your nightmares.
The third film, 1981’s The Final Conflict, might be the most ambitious of them all. Damien (portrayed by Sam Neill) is now all grown up and looking for his place in the political hierarchy. He’s following in the footsteps of his father but has a whole other agenda.
Circumstances cause Damien to fear the second coming of Jesus Christ, so he starts killing newborns who entered the world on a particular date. There may be a lot of political chatter, but this is a concept that terrifies. All the Final Destination-like scenarios are fun to anticipate. Although The Final Conflict doesn’t close the book on Damien’s arc excitingly, it concludes one of the better horror trilogies out there.
The made-for-TV reboot, 1991’s Omen IV: The Awakening, is not even worth a try. How difficult it must have been to follow what came before and box it into a new product with a downsized budget. The Awakening is simply lazy and silly. The musical score (which is pretty close to the ridiculousness of Halloween 5) and the shot composition are frankly embarrassing.
The 2006 remake is competently made (aside from all the frantic editing), but it doesn’t add anything fresh to the original. It’s just a modern polish. A lot of the dialogue is the same, and the performances (including Liev Schriber and Julia Stiles) lack believability. It feels like they are reading the original script word for word and are afraid to contribute anything of their own. Only the death scenes have been punched up, as one would expect with a remake. But it’s not enough to raise your pulse.
Overall, the collection is an opportunity to watch and own three exceptional horror offerings in their best presentation. The other two films are there to complete the set but not push the boundaries. So, if you’re looking for some high-class thrills as we inch closer to Halloween, Scream Factory’s set is a must for high-def horror enthusiasts.
Extras: The Scream Factory Deluxe Edition (available through shoutfactory.com/shop) includes an impressive candy shell. It fits quite nicely with Scream Factory’s thick-cased collector’s editions of Halloween, Critters and The Amityville Horror series. The original artwork for the glossy cardboard box (with illustrations by Laz Marquez and the package design by Mindy Kang) is a magnificent work of art. Rather than package everything together in one booklet, each film gets its own Blu-ray case to be individually unique.
The collection features all-new interviews with various talents of the series, including actors Lee Grant, Robert Foxworth, Holly Palance and Elizabeth Shepherd. There are also sit-downs with author and writer David Seltzer, director Graham Baker (The Final Conflict), writer Andrew Birkin and production assistant Jeanne Ferber, among others. The information is boundless and will compel you to explore the series’ mythology further.
Additionally, there are two killer documentaries (The Omen Legacy Documentary and 666: The Omen Revealed Documentary), still galleries, audio commentaries, trailers and other marketing materials, and vintage featurettes from previous releases. Trust me. You’ll stay busy with all of what Scream Factory delivers.