The set of ‘The Omen’ was apparently cursed: Everything to know
Horror movie classic The Omen was a cause of many nightmares for its viewers when it was released in 1976. Today, it’s one of the rare films that still lives up to its label as a horror classic.
Apparently fans of the film weren’t the only ones subjected to its evils, as cast & crew may have been exposed to something more real than the fictionalized portrayal of a demonic child – a cursed set.
The Omen: Cursed from the beginning?
The Omen follows an American diplomat named Robert (Gregory Peck), who along with his wife Katherine (Lee Remick), adopts a young boy named Damien (Harvey Stephens). Robert grows suspicious that his new son may be the Antichrist, after death and misfortune fall upon anyone that crosses the boy’s path.
The brainchild of an executive and born-again Christian named Robert Munger, he pitched the idea for The Omen to be the next blockbuster horror opportunity following the success of films like The Exorcist (1973).
Shortly after, Munger was quick to warn everyone involved that although he hadn’t had a change of heart, he knew that a movie set involving the son of the Devil was sure to be cursed, welcoming evil events.
Misfortune struck swit and soon, falling first upon The Omen’s protagonist played by Academy Award-winner Gregory Peck. Peck reportedly canceled a flight he planned for reasons unknown. Some reports claim that the crew hired the plane to use for the cast but ended up not needing the craft.
Either way, Peck was thankful he never got on. The plane crashed the same day, killing all passengers on board. More chilling? When it hit the ground, it landed on a vehicle with members of the pilot’s family inside.
The flying incidents didn’t stop there. While Peck was heading to England to shoot scenes for The Omen, his airplane was struck by lightning. This time around, no one was hurt.
Peck wasn’t the only member of the production who appeared to have a “curse” travelling with him. David Seltzer – the film’s writer – took a separate flight to England to join the cast and crew two days after Peck. Seltzer’s plane was also struck by lightning in an incident that strikes us as too coincidental – but thankfully not with lightning.
The Omen: Curse or explosive coincidence?
More unpredictable instances followed the crew off the set, bringing some explosive violence with them.
Mace Neufeld – The Omen’s executive producer – had an encounter he dubbed “more than coincidental” when he, Peck, and others planned to dine out at a restaurant one evening. Before the group was to appear at the restaurant, the building was reportedly destroyed in a violent explosion.
Neufeld may have felt victimized by a curse again when he and his wife checked out early from their hotel in London. It was a short time after that the hotel was leveled by yet another explosion.
Reports from the time insisted the IRA had been responsible for several explosions around London at the time, even if others attributed the violence to a curse set forth by the Devil himself.
The Omen: Curse targeted anyone from the set
The special effects designer responsible for designing The Omen’s chilling decapitation scene fell victim to one of the most creepy and tragic events. After moving on from the film to begin his next project, he was in a head-on car crash that decapitated his wife.
He drew the comparison to the film in hindsight, and even claimed there was a road sign to the side of the crash pointing travelers to a town called Ommen – 66.6 kilometers away.
Even The Omen’s animal trainers couldn’t escape the invisible wrath. In the unsettling “baboon attack” scene, the crew reportedly put a live baboon in the back of the car with Lee Remick (Damien’s mother) to antagonize the ones meant to attack the vehicle.
Instead of reaping havoc on the baboons, the curse of The Omen targeted their trainer. The animal trainer hired to assist in the scene was killed the very next day. Producer Harvey Bernhard detailed the harrowing death: “ was killed by a tiger. grabbed him by the head and killed him instantly.”
Before filming concluded, another animal incident ensued – but this one left death out of the equation. When Gregory Peck’s stuntman was attacked by trained rottweilers in the iconic cemetery scene, they went into a frenzy. The dogs ignored commands from their trainer and – for reasons unknown – were able to cause some heavy injuries.
Revisiting The Omen in 2020
A 2020 documentary series called Cursed Films recently reminded us of some of the strange and maybe not–so-coincidental occurrences that can happen on the sets of horror productions.
Episode 3 of the five-part series tackles The Omen and the string of tragic events surrounding the film’s making – ones that raised concerns the film “might be cursed by the Devil himself.”
Experts in fields ranging from the supernatural to film production feature in the documentary, and speak about the various “accidents” that seemed to accompany the making of The Omen; They enter a heavy debate on whether the circumstances are more likened to curse or coincidence.
The Omen debate: Curse or coincidence?
For a film tackling the creation of the Devil’s son from the moment of his birth, it’s no surprise that rumors of a possible curse and the Devil’s wrath were common topics surrounding production.
Adding more tangible matters into the mix, there were very real and traceable threats made by a vocal minority who decried the film for its depiction and inclusion of the Antichrist. The Omen’s director, Richard Donner, described receiving “ a lot of crackpot threats” and even “terrible letters” that incited explicit violence against anyone involved.
Is it possible that all of the outside pressure fueled a self-fulfilled prophecy of misfortune? Or maybe some of the “misfortune” was deemed more coincidental than it should’ve been.
Either way, it can’t be denied some very awful events plagued the specific individuals working on The Omen, and whether you believe in curses or not, we’re just glad the incidents weren’t enough to deter the cast & crew from finishing such an iconic film.