The Final Conflict was intended to be just that... FINAL! The last chapter in The Omen Legacy... and then they had to spoil it, by making something stupid like Omen IV! I'll blame Thorn Enterprises for that one. As for The Final Conflict, well it was a bit of a return to form. While Richard Donner was unable to return to direct this damned thing (that credit went to Graham Baker) due to legal troubles with the Salkinds (the jackasses who fired him from Superman II) Donner was able to return to the fold as Executive Producer. What could match the coolness of Donner? Jerry Goldsmith returns to compose a sequel to the soundtrack that won him the Oscar. Anybody else? Well, I'm thinking it would be a pretty spewing bad idea to shoot for an OMEN sequel without Producer Harvey Bernhard! Good thing he's back too!
Guess what else is back... those crazy Daggers, the only things that can harm the Son of Satan, have been found by miners (thankfully not by Minors) and promptly hocked. This is, of course, quite the stroke of luck for the Catholic Church, seeing as how they finally have another shot at getting medieval on Damien's ass. And none too soon, either. Just as original The Omen writer (and character creator) David Seltzer later did in his NBC Miniseries Revelations (not to mention the 2006 remake of The Omen), writer Andrew Birkin lays out a series of coincidental penultimate fulfillments of varied prophecies to increase the tension of the plot. The stars are aligning to herald the Second Coming of Christ, Damien is named the American Ambassador to England (after a quick and easy dispatch of the existing Ambassador) and Damien's Minions (like Don Gordon's Dean) begin to exterminate recently born baby boys to prevent "the Return of the Nazarene". Just about everything seems to be part of one conspiracy or another. I half-expected the Romulan Star Empire to be blamed for a few things, by the half-way point.
Damien's rise includes his submersion into the British social scene, his courtship of Lisa Harrow's Kate Reynolds (whom we see naked) and the seduction of her young son (another creepy little kid). Before long, Damien has an entire international Boy Scout troop of little snot-nosed satanists and an entire coven of really silly followers who seem to respond really well to threats.
Threats, that is, from Damien's silly "Scary Voice". Look, I dig ol' Neill and everything, but I've been to neighborhood haunted houses around Halloween where the area Lawn Mowing kid's Dad did a less humorous "Scary Voice". I kept wondering if he was going to start an uncontrollable hacking cough, go back to normal and say "Sorry, folks... little... uh... frog in my throat there... anyway, YOU MUST DESTROY THE NAZARENE!" They totally buy it, though, man... I'd be cracking up laughing like mad. "YOU MUST DESTROY THE... Ah, come on, J.C., take this seriously, man... this is... ah, crap!"
This is where The Final Conflict doesn't quite make the grade. Where there are some truly frightening and creepy moments in this movie, more often than not Birkin and Baker rely on blasphemy and the discomfort of the audience to succeed in being "Scary". A certain exchange between Neill and a distorted looking Crucifix is a case in point. The language used is most certainly edgy (even offensive) but the delivery is so melodramatic and cheesy, it hardly calls for my reaching for the old Rosary. Well, I mean no more than usual.
At the same time there are a few original, and even stunning moments here and there. The sub-plot of the Seven Monks rushing to poke Thorn manages to be pretty interesting, especially as the inevitable happens in various original ways one by one by one by one by one by one by one. A certain two-hundred foot backward fall stunt is a keeper! Further, The Final Conflict broke with the other films by offering up a more spiritual and uplifting final act than previously seen. Oh, it's still Bleak as hell, but hey, this ol' Catholic boy is happy. And then they had to spoil it, by making something stupid like Omen IV!
Man, what an idea Omen IV was.
Anyway, The Final Conflict is still pretty decent, very scary in places, with interesting special effects and makeup work. However it's also unintentionally funny and super-silly in other places. By that path, I can't get myself to be particularly worked up about the coming of the antichrist, even if he did exist. Seriously, the guy grows up to be such a dink, it's hard to really picture him posing much of an unholy threat! "NOW THIS WORLD BELONGS TO ME AND TO MY FATHER! Hey, dudes, stop laughing... this is prophecy... you take over the world with the antichrist you have, not the antichrist you might want. Hey, don't leave... come on, guys, this is it, this is my mission... please, come back! Seriously, guys! Ah, Phooey!"
Well... the son of 666 gets 3... 3... 3 Stars out of Five! It's good, it's scary, it's fun... but as cheesy as this is, is it any wonder that The Final Conflict was primarily filmed in Wisconsin? Was that the point? Were they like "OOO-Kay, there, Misterrrrr Donnerrrrrr, you can film herrrrrre and all, but you got to promote the CHEESE, there and all. Dollarrrrrrs and Tourism, Don't ya Know? Make it Cheesy, Don't ya Know?" Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm going to have some gouda right now, man. Antichrist indeed! See you in the next reel, Don't ya Know?
But that doesn't mean you have to be so rude, dude!
Your bullcrap, it... it out Herods Herod!
You need to chill, you know, think about what you've done...
Click HERE for more reviews, take off your shoes, have some booze... take a snooze!