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  Final Conflict, The We All Scream For NazareneBuy this film here.
Year: 1981
Director: Graham Baker
Stars: Sam Neill, Rossano Brazzi, Don Gordon, Lisa Harrow, Barnaby Holm, Mason Adams, Robert Arden, Leueen Willoughby, Marc Boyle, Milos Kirek, Tommy Duggan, Louis Mahoney, Richard Oldfield, Tony Vogel, Arwen Holm, Norman Bird, Hazel Court, Ruby Wax
Genre: Horror
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Damien Thorn (Sam Neill) has risen to the very top in his company, one he inherited from his late father, but he's unsure of where to take it now, and the marketing campaign that has been dreamt up for the business is not one which satisfies him as it emphasises the perilous state the world has been brought to instead of the benefits Thorn can offer. Perhaps Damien would be better moving into politics, as he learns of an opening in the field of British ambassador - well, he would, as his actual father, Satan himself, has organised the death of the previous ambassador...

So this is what happened when Damien from The Omen, that audience-worrying blockbuster of the seventies, grew up and began implementing the schemes of Beelzebub. As it turned out, the interest in the original had dissipated to the extent that nobody was too bothered as while the first sequel had done respectable enough business, most people saw this as a sequel too far, especially when word got out that the climax of this one was less than spectacular. This was meant to be Neill's breakthrough role for the international box office, but he would have to wait for later movies to exercise his talents in more successful projects.

So while most still knew him as a promising actor from television at the time this was released, surely he didn't embarrass himself otherwise? Not exactly, but the character he was required to play was one note, much given to speechifying when he's not looking smug at his supposed superiority over humankind. This was also one of those films which felt the need to have little nuggets of trivia dropped into conversations, all to make the lessons here come across as wiser than they actually were, so you find out in passing that Alexander the Great commanded the Macedonian army at 16 years of age and whatever, but this does little to advance the plot.

You can see through Andrew Birkin's script in its attempts at literacy in the hope that the silliness of the rest of it wouldn't show through, but after all he was simply taking the cue from David Seltzer's source material, and in this case it was all getting too hackneyed to truly be chilling. Something else drawn from the first instalment were those novelty deaths, but here mainly confined to the group of monks led by Rossano Brazzi, all of whom own a collection of sacred daggers which we're informed are the only things that can bump off Damien. Needless to say, they don't succeed on their first go or it would be a far shorter movie, and the invention - and lunacy for that matter - failed to attain Final Destination levels.

Damien's big plan to ensure that he prevails is to bump off a bunch of babies who he believes could be the Second Coming, and so he assembles a couple of hundred acolytes on a beach one night and orders them to go forth and start making like the troops of King Herod. One of those infants happens to be the offspring of Damien's second-in-command, Harvey (Don Gordon), which leads to scenes that show memorable nastiness was something the filmmakers were yet capable of, but the sense of been there, done that, was simply too overwhelming. They even introduced a Damien junior in the teenage son of the reporter (Lisa Harrow) Damien is romancing, but that was overfamiliar too. Watched now, divorced from the bored complaints that greeted the film at the time, it is possible to appreciate its grim stylings, though only to a point as that ending is truly anticlimactic. However you do get to see Ruby Wax dubbed with a scream that you would never credit her with ordinarily. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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