The Omen (1976)

Clearly a response to the mainstream success of 1973’s “The Exorcist,” “The Omen” is one of the classiest horror movies imaginable. There’s the A-list cast (beginning with a dignified Gregory Peck), the ominous operatic score, the luxurious sets, and the effective, self-serious tone. But really what makes the movie work as well as it does is its gleeful use of shocking violence: It’s not a consistently gory or aggressive movie, but when the violence happens, it’s graphic and abrupt enough to jolt even a seasoned horror fan. As Damien, Harvey Stephens has an effectively ominous presence, but the movie’s real VIP is Billie Whitelaw as Mrs. Baylock, who fills the screen with menace in each shot.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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