December 22, 2023


Starring Sam Neill, Lisa Harrow, Rossano Brazzi, Don Gordon, Barnaby Holm & Robert Arden as the U.S. Ambassador who loses his mind (literally). Directed by Graham Baker. (108 min).
Essay by D.M. ANDERSONđź’€

If you haven’t seen Omen III: The Final Conflict, I’ll state upfront that the following contains spoilers. 

Originally, the film was simply titled The Final Conflict, and it wasn’t until later home video releases that it was rebranded Omen III with “The Final Conflict" relegated to a subtitle. I suppose that was out of necessity, since this one is probably the least-remembered (and arguably the least loved) chapter in the original trilogy…at least until the 1991 made-for-TV turd, Omen IV: The Awakening, came along.

The Final Conflict isn’t actually all that bad. Like most sequels, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original film, but features more of the memorable death scenes the franchise was known for, another evocative Jerry Goldsmith score and America’s introduction to Sam Neill (who’s quite menacing here). Additionally, it’s the only Omen chapter that can also be enjoyed as a Christmas movie. It might even be the ultimate Christmas movie.

For those unaware, the Omen series chronicles the rise of Damien Thorn, the Antichrist as foretold in the Book of Revelations. The Omen featured him as a young boy adopted by American ambassador Robert Thorn and protected by Satan’s disciples. In Damien: Omen II, he's a teenager beginning to discover his powers and accept his destiny. By the time of The Final Conflict, he’s in his thirties and head of Thorn Industries. 

Handsome, charismatic and powerful, Damien is viewed as a philanthropist and trusted by politicians around the world, enough that the President offers him an ambassadorship. But privately, he’s not a happy man because the Bible has also foretold the second coming of Christ, which threatens his rise to power. As three stars align on March 24, Jesus is born in England, but Damien doesn’t know where. His solution is to order disciples to kill every male child born that day, thus depriving the world of two Christmases. In reality, would that plan really be so bad? I can’t speak for everyone else, but I spend a good portion of every year paying-off one Christmas…two of ‘em would fucking bankrupt me.

The reality of two Christmases.
Meanwhile, a group of priests led by Father DeCarlo (Rossano Brazzi) are still trying to kill Damien with the Seven Daggers of Megiddo, most of them failing in spectacular fashion (though none of their deaths are as gloriously grisly as the sitting UN ambassador jerry-rigging a shotgun to blow his own brains out). Speaking of death, a shitload of newborns are indeed killed at the hands of Damien’s disciples, and despite the film’s overall seriousness, these sequences are almost darkly comedic in tone, such as when two boy scouts arrive at a mother’s house to “do our good deed for the day.” 

Rest assured, Damien ultimately fails to prevent the second coming and is killed by his girlfriend with one of the daggers. The final shot of The Final Conflict looks like it was lifted straight from a religious Christmas card…that of the Messiah, bathed in heavenly light and accompanied by Goldsmith’s swelling choral score, along with the kind of “Jesus wins!” Bible quote you might read when you open the card. 

If one believes the true meaning of Christmas is not to make Jeff Bezos richer, but to celebrate the birth of their lord and savior, then it stands to reason Jesus’ re-birth would be celebrated with another holiday (in this case, March 24th). My family isn’t remotely religious, but the kids would certainly love another day off so late in the school year, especially one that is celebrated with gifts. 

“Yay! Two Christmases! And Mom & Dad didn’t have to divorce for us to get them!”

"I must stop Christmas from coming...but how?"
In a way, Damien Thorn’s agenda is the same as The Grinch’s…only he wants to keep a second Christmas from coming. Of course, How the Grinch Stole Christmas ends with the Grinch’s epiphany: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store…maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” The ‘more’ isn’t specified, but one could infer that the message is for everyone to remember it’s all about Jesus. 

Conversely, The Final Conflict doesn’t trifle with ambiguities. The Grinch is defeated! Jesus is back! Just like we were promised! Bring on the new Christmas! It’s a message even the dumbest evangelical can wrap their tiny, pointed head around. In that respect, it could be argued that The Final Conflict is one of the most faith-based Christmas movies ever made…even with the booming baby body count.

Is The Final Conflict a great horror film? No, but it ultimately evokes the true spirit of the holiday season. Besides, if people can still call Die Hard a Christmas movie (like that joke hasn’t been beaten to death), then why not this one? And if it were retitled yet-again to something more relevant, like “The Christmas Conflict,” maybe it could appeal to the same Christian gorehounds who flock every Easter to watch The Passion of the Christ.

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