Scary movies are just that -- movies. They are fictional. However, the Omen has some horrifying elements that are not very fictional at all. In fact, many go as far as saying that the Omen movie set was cursed.
Back in the 1970s, horror movies were all the rage: The Texas Chain Saw Metro, Jaws, The Hills Have Eyes, and the Exorcist, and, of course, The Omen. The Omen was directed by Richard Donner, written by David Seltzer, and largely filmed in the UK (with brief shooting in Israel and Rome). Filming began, funny enough, in October 1975 and wrapped in January of the same year. It was released in 1976 and received acclaim from the general public and critics alike.
However, the production wasn’t necessarily the easiest few months.
It all began with Robert Munger, a born again Christian who pitched Hollywood on the idea of an antichrist movie in the wake of Rosemary’s Baby. Harvey Bernhard agreed and signed on to make The Omen a reality. However, once the idea began gaining steam Robert Munger seemed to backtrack on the idea. In fact, he said “I warned Harvey at the time. I said, ‘If you make this movie you’re going to have some problems. If the devil’s greatest single weapon is to be invisible and you’re going to do something which is going to take away his invisibility to millions of people, he’s not going to want that to happen.”
He wore a cross throughout production.
The beginning of filming started off with a bang...literally. When Gregory Peck took off in October 1975 to begin filming, his plane was struck by lightning, an ominous start to the Omen. The lightning strike caused an engine to catch fire and the plane came dangerously close to crash-landing in the Atlantic. Just a few weeks later, Mace Neufeld, a producer, was on his way to film and his plane was ALSO struck by lightning while crossing the Atlantic. And, because all things happen in threes, screenwriter David Seltzer also was riding on a plane towards the set as well...and, you guessed it, he also had a non-fatal lightning strike.
This wasn’t the only aerial issue the Omen production had. The crew was on the list to hire a local small plane to get some aerial shots for the Omen. However, at the last minute the plane’s crew decided to ex the film production and rented it to a group of tourists. Some, unsupported, gossip says that it was several people on a business trip who paid a better price. The Omen crew was told they could have the plane...but that they’d have to wait until later in the day to film. The plane the crew was supposed to be on? It crashed. Upon take off, it flew into a flock of birds. The birds disoriented the crew and obstructed the view and the plane crashed through a fence and crashed into a car.
The IRA also seemed to play a part in the curse. When Mace Neufeld and his wife were staying at the Hilton Hotel in London the Irish Republican Army blew up the building. Thankfully, neither of them were in the hotel at the time. Just a few days later, the IRA struck again! Several producers, Neufeld, and Gregory Peck were headed to a restaurant that the IRA bombed just minutes before their arrival.
The stunt people, unsurprisingly, had it worst of all. In the escape from the cemetery scene, Gregory peck has to work with rottweilers. These dogs were trained to attack a stuntman and avoid Peck. However, when the dogs were set lose for filming...the dogs began viciously attacking him. They attacked him so viciously they decimated the protective gear and ignored their trusted trainer who they were normally obedient to. The stuntman did survive, although he did not escape unscathed. Alf Joint believes the curse followed him. Like John Richardson, who we’ll talk about soon, he also went off shortly after The Omen to begin work on A Bridge too Far. In one shot he had to jump off a tall building and land on an airbag - for an experienced stuntman like him, it was something he had done a thousand times before. However, he jumped in an awkward, seemingly mistaken way, and landed on the ground. After regaining consciousness in hospital following treatment, he immediately told others it felt like he had been pushed by an unseen force.
After wrapping on the special effects for the Omen, designer John Richardson shortly began work on designing for another film - A Bridge too Far. While on-location in Holland he and Liz Moore (a talented special effects designer in her own right) were driving along a scenic, but empty, road one night. Shockingly, they hit another car head-on. Richardson, the driver, was knocked unconscious but Moore was decapitated when one of the front wheels viciously tore through the floor. If this isn’t gruesome enough in its own right, if you saw the Omen you might be making another connection. Richardon, just months before, had designed a gruesome decapitation scene in The Omen. Richardson also noted a road sign for the own, Ommen...guess how far away it was? 6.66 kilometers away.
Whether these events were just some strange accidents or actual works by the devil, it is impossible to say that the Omen production wasn’t, at the very least, an unlucky time in many of the cast and crew’s lives.
The above image is unrelated to the story and is entitled 'Many crows in a dark tree at New Orleans Square in Disneyland' by Jesse Weinstein (JesseW) - Own work. (ID# 16a) and is liscensed under CC2.0